Bloating is a common digestive complaint I hear in my clinic. Whilst a little bloating can be a normal part of digestion as the food is broken down and fermented by the bacteria that reside in our digestive tract, constant distention and discomfort is not. Here are 10 tips to help reduce bloating and support healthy digestion.
Please note that if you are experiencing severe bloating and digestive discomfort, please seek some further advice from a health professional as it could be something due to bacterial imbalances, a parasite infection, food intolerances or something else that needs to be treated more professionally.
1. DRINK LEMON IN WARM WATER
20mins before your meal. This stimulates hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, needed to break down food.
2. THINK ABOUT FOOD
This initiates the digestive process, whereby your mouth starts to water with saliva containing digestive enzymes that also break down food.
3. EAT SLOWLY & SITTING DOWN
Eating on the run means we’re eating in the stress state called fight & flight. In this state, blood flow & energy is directed at stress coping mechanisms instead of digestive functions such as releasing digestive enzymes & stimulating muscle contractions to move the food through the digestive tract. This impairs digestion and causes bloating.
4. CHEW & CHEW & CHEW
This mechanically breaks down the food, whilst also producing saliva & digestive enzymes further helping to break down the food. It also takes the pressure off the stomach acids further down the tract.
5. EAT BITTER FOODS
Such as grapefruit, radicchio, fennel, rocket & raw cacao to stimulate bile production. Bile breaks down fats & also removes toxic waste from our body.
6. EAT PREBIOTIC FOODS
Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, beetroot, asparagus, bananas, legumes & oats contain prebiotic fibres. These fibres stimulate the growth of the good bacteria living in our gut called probiotics which aid in digestion & nutrient absorption. This can cause bloating and gas due to fermentation so don't be alarmed if you experience these symptoms. Just eat in small quantities as you build up a tolerance. Not all bloating is bad!
7. EAT FERMENTED FOODS
Such as a good quality all natural probiotic enriched yoghurt, kefir & sauerkraut which contain strains of gut loving good bacteria that help digestion.
8. EAT PAPAW & PINAPPLE
These fruits contain the enzymes papain & bromelain respectively, which helps break down proteins. Perfect before a protein rich breakfast such as eggs.
9. COOK FOODS HIGH IN INSOLUBLE FIBRE
Such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, green beans & onions. This breaks down the fibre into a more easily digestible form, causing less digestive upsets.
10.AVOID MINDLESS SNACKING OR PRACTICE INTERMITTANT FASTING
When we stop eating and give our digestive system a break, our body starts to heal and repair itself. Try to avoid mindless snacking and leave at least 3 hours between your meals and 12 hours between breakfast and dinner. Practicing intermittent fasting or time restricted eating (e.g. 16/8 hour for 5:2 fast) has also shown to have very favourable effects on digestion. If you want to learn more, read my introductory guide to intermittent fasting.