5 Strategies on How to Reduce & Manage Your Bloating
You may recognise that familiar feeling after eating, your stomach starts to feel a little uncomfortable, your jeans may feel a little tight and you can't sit comfortably. By the end of the day you pretty much don't recognise your bloated belly and all you want to do is lie horizontal to let it pass.
Bloating occurs in roughly 25% of us which actually makes it pretty common. Not all bloating is a sign that something isn’t quite right in your digestive system, it can happen to all of us and and in some cases is perfectly normal. Bloating does become a problem when it becomes persistent, occurs after eating certain foods or is coupled with pain, discomfort and irregular bowel movements.
What could be the cause of your bloating?
This is where the topic of bloating can get a little confusing. There is no one cause of bloating and it could actually be the result of multiple conditions or imbalances in the body. This makes finding the root cause a little tricky. On top of this we are all unique, meaning that the cause of your best friends bloating might not be the same reason as you. Bloating can also come along with other digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhoea, distention (when you see visible expanding of the abdomen), pain and excessive gas.
Bloating can be a symptom of other conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, indigestion, constipation… the list goes on. Bloating can have a huge impact on your wellbeing and quality of life. It can interrupt social events, cause anxiety around going out for meals or not being near a bathroom.
Bloating is not something that you have to put up with as a normal part of your life. Making small changes at home can work to help relieve your symptoms and remove the anxiety and pain around bloating or other tummy issues.
Where to start
Considering that there is no one cause of bloating, means that you have to work through a bit of trial and error. There has been research into what you can do to reduce severity and occurrence and the best way to know what works for you is to try out different strategies.
Start paying attention to the signs, what you eat, have you exercised, is there anything else going on in your life when you are feeling bloated. Some people find it helpful to keep a journal of these events and try to find a pattern. This is also definitely helpful if you decide to work with a Nutritional Therapist to understand what is causing your bloating and how to reduce and manage for the long term.
Here are my top 5 strategies to reducing your bloating:
1. Up your fibre and water intake
Fibre helps to move everything along in your digestive system and adds bulk to your stools. If you are constipated or don't have a bowel movement every day, think about adding more vegetables and wholegrains to your meals. Water is also really important for sluggish bowels so make sure you are drinking 1.5-2 litres of liquid per day.
2.Nourish your microbes
It has been well researched that altering your gut microbiome (the ecosystem of bacteria and fungi that live in your digestive tract) can have a positive influence on gut related symptoms.
Introducing fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso, tempeh and natural yoghurt with live cultures can be an excellent way to get your daily dose of fermented foods. Just be wary of other fermented foods such as commercially available kombucha or kefir which can be quite high in sugar, which is not so good for reducing bloating.
You also need to focus on feeding your gut bugs. Eating a colourful and varied diet with lots of vegetables, beans, legumes, wholegrains and fruit will keep them happy.
3. Exercise and yoga
Exercise has shown to help with bloating by encouraging movement through your digestive tract. This is said to help excess gas out of your body and can also encourage regular bowel movements. Gentle to moderate is enough and we should be aiming for 30 minutes per day.
Yoga has also shown benefits for reducing bloating and helping to expel excess gas. Gentle movements can help to relieve built up gas and if you are struggling with bloating and wind, this could be a great practice to add to your daily routine.
4. Keep a food diary
Write down what you are eating and drinking and whether you experience any bloating (or other symptoms) after the meal. Take note if your bloating is more severe after certain foods.
You could even start to remove triggering foods for a while and then reintroduce. This is a good test to know what foods may contribute to your bloating however it is best to do this along side working with a Nutritional Therapist. This information collected can be really helpful in narrowing down the root cause.
5. Working with a nutritionist
If you have tried these strategies and are still feeling bloated, now is a good time to start working with a nutritionist. As I mentioned before, bloating could just be a symptom of another condition or multiple imbalances. Working out what the root cause of your symptoms can be an effective way to reduce and manage, or in some cases become free of your bloat for life.
When you look for a nutritionist to work with, make sure they create a nutrition plan that revolves around you, your health history and not something that is an off the shelf plan.
If you would like to find out more on how to reduce your bloating and digestive symptoms, get in touch.