Having a distended stomach and feeling bloated all the time is SO uncomfortable. Simple shifts like drinking water away from meals & not mixing fruit with other foods offer dramatic improvements for most. Others notice significant changes from reducing alcohol & caffeine and adding probiotic-rich foods to their routine.
Seventy percent of the body’s immune system is centered in the digestive tract; this means that maintaining digestive health is crucial to the body’s overall well-being. If your digestion is not at optimal levels, the body will have difficulty absorbing all the nutrients from the food and, therefore, the body will be provided with less nourishment for energy.
The following steps help to alleviate unwanted bloating while supporting optimal digestion and boosting the immune system.
Drink plenty of water (between, not with meals):
It’s best to drink water 15 minutes before you eat and 30 minutes to 1 hour after you eat. Drinking during meals dilutes digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid, slowing down the digestive process. Drinking away from meals helps to reduce excess gas and bloating. Shoot for ½ your body weight in ounces daily.
Eat fruit alone or leave it alone:
Try to eat fruit on an empty stomach, not with or directly after a meal as it ferments in the stomach & can disrupt the digestive process. Vegetables can be eaten with just about anything, and their high fiber helps to support digestion. Add a side of greens or a green salad to any meal to boost nutrient absorption.
Caffeine is highly stimulating to the nervous system, and overconsumption increases cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline production. This adds an extra layer of stress-induced bloating to the abdomen. Do your best to consume any caffeine in the morning, and try to stick to no more than 1 cup a day or just see how you feel without any at all for a while!
Regular meal times:
Keep a routine of when you wake, exercise, eat and sleep. This will “train” your body to release certain hormones, digestive enzymes, and other chemicals to make your day run smoothly. Example: if you always wake at 6am and eat breakfast at 8 am, over time your body will begin to get hungry just before 8am, telling you that it is time to eat. Eating at regular times throughout the day also stabilizes blood sugar and heightens metabolism.
Consume bitter & probiotic-rich foods:
By eating bitter foods, you will enhance digestion by stimulating the release of digestive enzymes, bile, and stomach acid. You can also try taking bitters (I like urban moonshine) before meals or incorporate bitter greens & veggies into your meals. Eating high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, supports digestive health by increasing stool bulk and softness. Load up on probiotic-rich foods & fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, organic miso, tempeh, and coconut yogurt & kefir. These foods help establish a healthy environment for your gut flora.
*Try skipping garlic & onions for a couple of weeks & see if your bloating improves. Those with impaired gut function often have trouble with the allium family.
Rest and Digest:
Ever eat on the go? Turns out it’s not beneficial to your digestion when you are in fight or flight mode. When you are stressed, and in a hurry, your body shuts off digestion. By sitting down and relaxing your body, your nervous system will send the signal that it is time to eat and shift into parasympathetic mode. This diverts the blood to your digestive tract for proper absorption and assimilation of nutrients. Try to chew each bite 30-50 times before you swallow. Digestion begins in the mouth; saliva contains enzymes that help break down food particles before entering the digestive tract. The longer food is exposed to saliva (through chewing), the easier it moves through your intestines and the less gas it creates.
Herbs that reduce bloating:
Ginger: – Helps speed digestion, which helps the stomach empty faster to relieve discomfort and bloating. Sip ginger tea between meals!
Dill – Helps stimulate the production of bile, soothes the stomach and helps bring relief to gastric heartburn and acid indigestion.
Chamomile-Calms inflammation such as gastritis and helps prevent ulcers.
Peppermint- Helps relieve stomach gas and bloating and prevents flatulence. Sip peppermint tea between meals.
Basil- Relaxes the stomach and improves how gas moves through the intestines. Lessens the effect of heartburn. Relieves inflammatory bowel problems as well as stomach cramps, indigestion, and unwanted gas
Parsley- Stimulates digestion and the kidneys. Helps to eliminate toxins and kidney stones. Prevents formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract, relieves water retention, bloating, indigestion and flatulence.