Bloating has become so normalized these days that it can almost seem normal to need to unbutton your pants after a meal. Though bloating may be common, it's an indicator of certain imbalances going on internally.
Unfortunately more often than not we reach for the quick fix to provide immediate symptom relief yet we don't get to the root of the matter. When we continually ignore the signs and symptoms from our bodies, we don't allow for true healing to occur and most often symptoms only get louder and louder.
It's important to get to the root of the issue in order to achieve long term relief from symptoms and live comfortably.
Though some scenarios may be more complex, the good news is it often only takes just a few simple dietary and lifestyle shifts to make a difference in how your belly feels.
5 nutrition tips to beat the bloat
Increase your fiber intake
Consuming plenty of fiber rich foods in your diet is one of the best ways to promote a favourable microbiome.
This is because fiber acts as fertilizer or fuel to the gut flora and can help to increase the beneficial microbes in the gut. When there are imbalances in the amount and type of gut bacteria this can lead to digestive issues like gas and bloating but also certain diseases (1)(2).
It's important to nourish our beneficial microbes so they can thrive and keep any pathogenic bacteria in check.
That being said, fiber follows the goldilocks formula; not too much and not too little, teetering at a recommendation of 25-35 grams per person.
Just beware, if you increase your fiber intake too fast this can also promote uncomfortable symptoms like bloating. Eating raw vegetables such as cruciferous vegetables are also common causes to bloating as they can be trickier for the body to break down. Try upping your intake gradually, avoid eating large amounts of raw veggies, and opt for cooked vegetables to help ease your digestion.
Research is showcasing just how effective probiotics can be to promote and maintain a healthy gut environment while also reducing symptoms like bloating.
They can do so in a variety of ways:
- Promoting microbial diversity and healthy gut function (3)
- Fighting harmful bacteria and their toxins (4)(5)
- Lowering inflammation in the gut (6)
- Supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria (7)
Unfortunately the standard western way of eating as well as many lifestyle factors can contribute to a state of dysbiosis or lack of beneficial microbes. Whether you are adding them in food or supplement form, probiotics can help to restore good gut health and even sort out bloating symptoms if they are related to dysbiosis.
New to probiotics? Check out our guide on everything you need to know.
Chew your food more
What was once a community gathering that took hours has now become an inconvenience that we may even skip due to increased responsibilities, longer work hours, and too little time. Meal times have become rushed and if we don't skip them altogether we more than likely overlook the chewing part and forget that our stomachs don't have teeth.
It's not just what you are eating that can affect your digestion system, it's also how you eat. In order to properly kickstart the digestive process we need to chew our food properly for salivary enzymes to be released and start breaking it down. But it doesn't end there. If your food isn't broken down enough at this stage, this will create more strain on your stomach which can in turn zap your energy and increase the likelihood of bloating.
The first step is becoming aware of your eating habits. Take more time with your meals if you can, pause between each bite, and chew your food until it's liquid and you'll be sure to feel the difference!
Drink plenty of water, between meals
Dehydration can be a cause of bloating and water retention while staying sufficiently hydrated can help to move food through your system more quickly, helping to relieve symptoms.
What many people don't realize is that taking big gulps of water with your food can actually disturb digestion. This is because water intake can dilute the stomach juices and enzymes needed to break down your food.
Of course it's important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water everyday, just avoid larger intakes before your meals and opt for small sips instead which will help to support your digestive fire.
Herbs have been used traditionally since antiquity for a number of health benefits including to stop the bloat, decrease stomach upset, and support digestion (8). These may include peppermint, fennel, ginger, and turmeric.
Peppermint has a cool and refreshing flavor that is soothing to the digestive tract. Peppermint has been shown to provide a relaxing effect on gastrointestinal tissue which may help to relieve intestinal spasms as well as bloating (9). Most research showing relief from digestive symptoms have been done on peppermint oil in particular however peppermint tea may be just as potent though more human studies are needed (10).
Fennel is not only rich in fiber but it also possesses antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties that can be particularly relieving for the treatment of gas and flatulence symptoms (11). This herb is often chewed after a meal to reduce any digestive discomfort such as gas or bloating.
Teas are the most popular form of consumption of these herbs but you can also add them to your cooking to support digestion while enhancing the flavour of your meal.