If you are experiencing bloating—that sensation of fullness, pressure in your lower abdomen, your pants just fitting a little bit more tightly than they should be, you are not alone. 10-30 percent of people admit to feeling bloated more than a quarter of the time! Sometimes bloating can be painful, almost like menstrual cramps, sometimes it can be physically noted, as in a descended belly and other times it can simply come and go like pains associated with gas. Here’s what is important to note…Bloating can sometimes be a sign of something serious going on with your health and if you feel in your “gut” (get what I did there?!) that your experiencing something serious, I encourage you to be checked out by your Dr. The good news is that it’s far more likely that the causes of your bloating are less serious; think over production of gas in the intestines, constipation, an intolerance to a certain food such as lactose or even water retention.
I’ve found through the years that bloat is pretty easy to beat if you follow a few simple guidelines. Here’s what I tell my clients when they ask how to get rid of the bloating and how to prevent it from coming back….
Water! Drink more water than you even think is humanly possible. When you’re not taking in enough fluids, your body actually retains water to prevent hydration. That water retention materializes itself in bloating. Drinking water also flushes your system of yucky toxins and waste keeping you more regular, preventing constipation and therefore reducing bloating. I always include slices of lemons, limes and cucumber in my water. Not only do they add a refreshing flavor but they are all known to help with decreasing bloating. For an added benefit, add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in your water. It really aids with digestion. Water, it’s called nature’s miracle beverage for a reason!
Reduce your salt intake. Never ever shake extra salt on top of any of your meals and if you are currently, stop eating packaged foods now.
Take a probiotic. Ingesting good bacteria helps your gastrointestinal system digest and absorb food properly. If you’re not into purchasing one more “thing” to take, start eating yogurt daily. It’s packed with good probiotics. Just make sure the yogurt has no added sugar.
Ginger. Figure out a way to incorporate fresh ginger into your daily diet. Ginger contains a digestive enzyme called zingibain, which helps the body break down protein and its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties work wonders on diminishing bloat. I like to make fresh ginger tea at home!
Fennel seeds. Just like ginger, chewing on half a teaspoon of this herb has been a remedy for gas and bloating for thousands of years. It contains many anti-inflammatory properties that relax intestinal muscle and allow trapped gas to dissipate.
Go Bananas. Bananas happen to contain extremely high levels of potassium (which you probably already knew), but you might not have heard that bananas are great for belly flattening. That’s because the potassium in them helps regulate your sodium intake—deflating your bloat!
Peppermint. For years peppermint has been associated with the soothing of the stomach. That’s because peppermint has relaxant and antispasmodic properties that can relieve cramps and spasms in the gastrointestinal tract, bile duct and gallbladder.
Lastly, physical activity is crucial here. Not only does exercise stimulate digestion, research actually finds that people retain much less gas and are less likely to feel bloated during and after moderate exercise.
I suggest to all my clients that before they turn to medicinal solutions like Gas-X, Amitiza and Xifaxan (two commonly prescribed medications for gas and bloating), that they turn to some of these natural healers first. They’ve been tried and true for thousands of years which is good enough reason for me! Xx Janine