We’re all about sharing information and ideas that’ll lead to happier, healthier bodies. So here’s an area we think deserves some attention – our tummies and the subject of stomach bloating.
A swollen stomach can be really painful, uncomfortable and embarrassing. And so many of us seem to be affected by it at some point.
Experts say that everything from our sedentary lifestyles and what we eat, to the sheer amount of food we can consume may be to blame when it comes to bloating. And if you’re concerned, you should definitely check in with your doc. But in most cases, a few simple lifestyle adjustments can work wonders to create healthier tums says Gabi Heyes, a naturopath and herbalist who lectures at the CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine).
We asked Gabi to identify the most common causes of tummy troubles and how to treat them. Here’s what she says:
1. Increase the insoluble fibre in your diet. Constipation or irregular bowel movements are big bloating offenders. Insoluble fibre helps to encourage regular bowel movements. TRY THIS: Flax seeds or psyllium husks (find them in most health food shops) can help. Soak 1 tbsp of seeds overnight in a glass of water so that they absorb the fluid, and then drink the whole lot in the morning upon waking. Also up your intake of insoluble fibre-rich foods such as oats, beans, lentils, nuts and apples.
2. Keep hydrated throughout the day. Without enough water, your body cannot produce enough of the enzymes needed for digestion. TRY THIS: Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water or herbal tea each day, and try to drink a glass of water half an hour before meals to provide the fluids needed to create digestive enzymes.
3. Eat in a relaxed environment. Stress can interfere with your digestive system and can cause acid to increase which leads to indigestion. TRY THIS: Avoid eating on the hoof or at your desk. Try to sit in a place where you’ll be in a calm state of mind, with fewer distractions, making sure to chew food thoroughly before swallowing.
4. Start your evening meal earlier. This is especially important if you wake up with bloating and wind. Sleep is your body’s time to repair and heal, not digest a heavy meal. Also, when we’re tired, digestion slows down, so food won’t move around your system as effectively as it would when you’re more awake. TRY THIS: Eat your last meal at least three hours before bedtime.
5. Rethink your food choices. As a general rule, if you’re waking up with a flat tummy that bloats as the day progresses, it is likely to be the food that you’re eating that’s causing you problems. TRY THIS: Minimise processed foods such as deli meats, canned or jarred foods, crackers, cereals, pre-made meals, foods with added sweeteners / preservatives and sugar intake (biscuits, sweets, chocolate, syrups etc). Processed foods contain a lot of sodium which can lead to bloating, plus many people have problems digesting artificial sweeteners.
6. Consider a food sensitivity test (which is different to allergy testing) to see if you have an intolerance to a particular food. TRY THIS: Visit a nutritional therapist, who will recommend the best course of action.
Like this article? Check out our recent article on energy levels – How to avoid the afternoon energy slump