Bloating is that awful beast that rears its ugly head in an unavoidable form…the dreaded ‘6-month-pregnant-with-a-food-baby’ look. That’s not even to mention the discomfort and crippling pain bloating can cause – usually at the most inconvenient times (think- post lunch business meeting OR after dinner when you want to socialise). So, how can you reduce, alleviate or better still, avoid bloating all together?
Firstly, what exactly is bloating?
Bloating is caused by the gas produced when we eat or drink. This gas being produced is a normal by-product of the bacteria in your gut that works hard to digest your food. This gas is supposed to move through your colon to be absorbed or emitted (yes, that’s right – don’t hold it in!). But when the gases are trapped in the small intestine you end up with bloating. For some, this bloating is merely uncomfortable, but for others it can be painful and prolonged. Either way, it’s safe to say we’d rather live without it!
So, here are 7 tips to help with your belly bloat:
1.Manage your meals to avoid bloating
Keep track of the specific foods you eat and subsequently cause you to bloat. Some known culprits are dairy, chocolate, and coffee. Jaclyn Reutens, Active8me dietician, suggests “Avoid oily and fatty foods as these take a longer time to digest and create more gas in your digestive tract”. Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can then avoid them or try alternatives!
2. Avoid excess sugar AND artificial sweeteners to reduce bloating
Highly processed foods that contain large amounts of sugar can cause bloating. Sugar, including fruit juices, form excess gas when they ferment. Don’t think that using artificial sweeteners is the answer either! Sugar substitutes such as sorbitol and mannitol are not fully absorbed by the body and ferment in the intestinal tract, causing gas to build up. The answer – learn to read your food and drink labels. Avoid foods where the percentage of carbohydrates is mainly from ‘added sugar’. Even better, as we often talk about, stick to simple, natural and unprocessed wholefoods!
3. Maintain a balanced diet to avoid the belly bloat
Too much of anything is NOT a good thing. High fibre foods are great for digestion, keeping you feeling fuller for longer and essential for healthy bowel movement. But too much fibre can also cause you to bloat and feel abdominal discomfort. Some vegetables, such as onions, cauliflower, cabbage, lentils and beans produce a lot of gas when they’re broken down in the gut. Of course, we’re not saying that you should avoid them completely. Instead just ensure that you control your portions in each meal. Additionally, you can reduce your bloating with a consistent pattern of meals, chewing your food slowly and eating until you are satisfied (as opposed to completely ‘stuffed’).
4. Exercise to alleviate bloating
Exercise can work two-fold. Alleviating the bloating you feel now and also preventing belly bloat from occurring. Even though exercise is the last thing you feel like doing when you’re bloated, a light walk or rhythmic activity will help move the gases through your system and ease the pain.
Plus, regular exercise will keep your bowel movements regular. If you are not ‘regular’ with your bowel movements, you risk constipation, which also leads to bloating. “Constipation is one major cause of bloating,” explains Jaclyn. “The longer food remains in your intestinal tract, the more bacterial fermentation occurs.” This is the cause of the excess gas that leads to bloating.
5. Drink more water (not fizzy) to reduce bloating
Drinking carbonated or ‘fizzy’ drinks adds unnecessary gas to your digestive system. Drinking water in place of these drinks will help both your waistline and your bloating. “Consuming adequate amounts of water can also help prevent bloating caused by constipation, since dehydration is a cause of constipation” says Jaclyn.
6. Practice yoga to improve that bloated feeling
Certain yoga poses can also help with digestion, thereby alleviating bloating. The rhythmic breathing and focused movements can stimulate bowel activity by increasing blood flow to the area. It’s best not to do yoga straight after a meal, however a couple of hours later try the Cat-cow, seated twist or updog poses for improved digestion and to reduce bloating. Plus you’ll get all the relaxation benefits of yoga too. Win / win !
7. Stress less for less bloat
Have you ever felt that ‘knot in your stomach’ from stress? Well, that makes sense given stress can disrupt the muscular contractions that move gas through your system. Feeling bloated can be a symptom of stress and anxiety. Check out these easy tips to reduce stress and thereby help reduce your bloating.
More than just bloating…
There you have it, 7 ways to banish your belly bloat. Taking care of your gut health is an important part of your overall health and well-being. But, of course any of the 7 tips mentioned above have benefits that go beyond just bloating. At Active8me we’re here to inspire and equip you to live a healthy, active life. So let us be part of your journey to help you. Choose one of our customised programs that is right for you and your goals. Whether you want to lose weight, become fit, lean & toned or prevent diabetes Active8me has something to suit your needs. A simple, convenient an expert solution to make your life easy. It’s like having a personal trainer, dietician and lifestyle coach in your pocket!
Please note: If implementing these methods have no impact with your bloating then it’s best to seek medical advice as you may be experiencing food intolerances or other underlying medical conditions.