Ah, belly bloat. As much a part of life as taxes and bumper-to-bumper traffic when you’re in a hurry.
But does bloating need to be a staple in your life?
The answer is… absolutely not!
Why Do We Get Bloated?
In order to figure out how to beat bloat naturally, let’s first look at why we get bloated in the first place.
The definition of bloating is “to expand or distend.” If your abdomen has been bloated before (and whose hasn’t?), you know exactly what these words feel like: your tummy feels full, pulled tight, and like it would pop if you stuck a pin in it.
Bloating happens when there’s a build-up of gas in the gastrointestinal system or when there’s an imbalance in the gut microbiome, making it harder for your body to process the food you eat. Most commonly, bloating comes from:
- Too much salt
- Too many simple carbs from processed foods like white breads and pastas, sugar, and soft drinks
- Too much carbonation
- Too much dairy (or even a little dairy, if you’re lactose intolerant)
- Eating too quickly
- Irregular bathroom visits
Rarely, bloating is the result of a more serious health condition, but if your bloating is accompanied by severe symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, bloody stools, or fever, you’ll want to consult your doctor.
To Toot or Not to Toot?
If you find yourself burping or farting a lot while you’re bloated, it’s best to let that gas sail right on out of you. Because while burping and farting is embarrassing and annoying if done in an inopportune time and place, it’s natural and necessary. Your body produces gas as it breaks down and processes food, and if it’s not released, it builds up and turns into uncomfortable bloating. So go ahead and toot (even if discreetly). It can actually help relieve bloating.
Fun fact: According to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, the average person passes gas 12-25 times per day. (Wow, right?)
How else can you beat bloating naturally? Here are my 5 top ways.
A good probiotic (like Synbiotic 365) can help clear your gut of bad bacteria and boost the growth of good bacteria. It may also help your gut break down and digest foods faster, leading to more efficient digestion.
Hint: You can also get probiotics through foods and drinks like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
Peppermint oil helps relax and calm the muscles in your digestive tract, allowing food to process and pass through more easily. It can also help built-up gas to pass.
Hint: If you take a peppermint oil supplement, choose an enteric-coated capsule, which keeps the peppermint oil from being released into the stomach, which can actually make indigestion worse.
Gingerols — beneficial compounds in ginger — may help relieve digestive discomfort and reduce intestinal spasms, both of which can lead to bloating. Gingerols can also help with pain, which may alleviate some of the discomfort that goes along with bloating.
Hint: Ginger is a carminative — an herb that helps soothe the digestive tract and relieve gas. Peppermint, basil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and thyme (among others) are also carminatives.
Massaging can increase blood flow to the abdominal region and get the digestive tract moving. It can also release intestinal muscle spasms, tightness, pressure, and — the topic of the hour — bloating.
Hint: Here’s an example of belly massage techniques.
As you eat, you take in air through biting, chewing, and swallowing. Eating quickly can cause you to gulp air, whereas eating slowly and mindfully — while also chewing your food thoroughly — can cut down on the amount of air you take in, which may ultimately lead to uncomfortable bloating.
Hint: Eating slowly can help you feel fuller faster, so you may not eat as much. Double win!
If bloating is something you experience regularly, you may also want to consider adding gut health-supporting supplements to your daily routine.
NatureM.D.’s GutConnect 365 and Enzyme 365 can help you process your food better so your digestive system is under less stress and is able to pull out nutrients and move food through quickly. Better digestion = less bloating. And less bloating = looking and feeling better!
To your health and happiness…
Your NatureM.D. Wellness Team