This article was originally written for the Katy Trail Weekly.
Feeling bloated is physically uncomfortable and also an uncomfortable topic. As a holistic nutritionist specializing in digestion, it is a topic that I cannot avoid, so let’s dive in.
The intestines are a whopping twenty-five, to thirty feet long. Meaning, meals have a long way to travel until they meet their exit. Feeling bloated is such a common occurrence, that we often chalk it up to being “human” but it is actually a signal from the body that something is not right.
While overeating, medications and food sensitives can certainly be at play, the most common causes of bloating are caused by stagnant pockets of gas and slow moving meals.
These simple tips can help to improve your digestion and skip the bloat.
- Hydrate. Prior to coffee, start your morning with at least one full glass of room temperature water. After a night’s rest, consuming pure water first thing in the morning, hydrates stagnant and undigested food in the small and large intestines, allowing the peristalsis muscle to more effectively do its job. Cold water causes the intestines to restrict, whereas room temperature, or warmer water, allows the intestines to relax. For less bloating and better digestion, we want “relaxed” intestines. We are obsessed with Crazy Water, which is naturally alkaline and excellent for digestion.
- Don’t skip the probiotic capsule. I always recommend a high quality probiotic first thing in the morning. Probiotics contain microbes which can help us digest food and fight harmful bacteria that can cause bloating and constipation. When the gut becomes unbalanced with unhealthy levels of certain bacteria, we become more susceptible to food intolerances and digestive issues. A high quality probiotic can be a game changer, but skip the yogurt. Unless you are consuming a raw yogurt product, most popular yogurt brands are highly processed and can contain a lot of sugar. We have a number of favorite probiotics. Pop into Sundrops and see which one might be a good fit for your needs.
- Elderberry Syrup is not just immune boosting, consumed on an empty stomach, elderberry has been used in alternative medicine to aid in sluggish bowels. I love “Cassie Green Health” Elderberry Syrup, a local company, superior to other brands on the market because the ingredients are so pure and contain no junky additives, like glycerin. Find it locally in numerous shops, including Whole Foods, Sundrops and Central Market, as well as amazon.
- Movement. How are you moving each day? It can be easy to sit at a desk all day and pump out work. When we sit, the intestines also become stagnant. Gentle exercise, like walking or yoga, stimulates peristalsis, the muscle contractions that eliminate waste and help your body expel gas. Move more.
- Take a shot of ginger juice. This tip is a spicy one, but it is effective. Fresh ginger can boost your health in a multitude of ways, but studies show that consuming ginger can help to increase the movement of food through your stomach. It can also help to combat nausea and protect against stomach ulcers. A win win.
- Skip, or slow down on the the carbonated beverages. I know Texans love a bubbly beverage (ahem, Topo Chico? Ranch Water?), but those gas bubbles literally create gas in the body.
- It goes without saying, but on days where your digestive system feels off, keep meals simple. Common foods like dense nuts and seeds, or raw cruciferous vegetables can cause further duress. Gently cook your veggies and enjoy with foods that are easier to chew, like fish, or soup, for instance, instead of the sandwich and fries.
- Supplement with magnesium in the evening. Magnesium is considered one of Nature’s most natural and fast acting relaxants and also my secret weapon when it comes to quickly aiding in proper elimination, improving sleep, and combatting stress. There are thousands of medical references to magnesium related deficiencies, including everyday annoyances not limited to— irritability, constipation, bloating, headaches, irregular, or rapid heart rate, insomnia, sensitivity to light and noises, depression, and anxiety. Consult with your healthcare practitioner, before starting a new health care regimen.
- Drink homemade cumin tea. This is an interesting tip that works wonders. Cumin water, or “Jeera water” is common in Indian culture and used to treat bloating and indigestion. Simply steep 1 tsp of whole cumin seeds in 1 cup of hot water and strain after a few minutes. I usually just chew the seeds and skip the straining.
- Sip on peppermint tea throughout the day. Peppermint contains menthol which can relieve spasms in smooth muscle tissue and allow the body to pass trapped pockets of gas. If you really want to up your digestive game, add food grade peppermint oil to your water, or rub it on your tummy. We like this brand.
- Try a carrot juice. Ideally, on an empty stomach, or in between meals. Just make sure there is no fruit in the juice (which can cause further fermentation/gas in the gut). Carrot juice can stimulate the bowels.
- Rub castor oil on your belly at night. Castor oil works by increasing the movement of the intestines. Do not take this internally, unless prescribed by your healthcare provider. Most castor oil is not Food grade. We like this brand.
- Last but not least, activated coconut charcoal can work like a charm when bloated, as it is extremely absorbent and can help bind to and disrupt pockets of stagnant gas. We like this brand. Do not take if you are on pharmaceutical medications, like anti-depressants, as it can interfere with absorption and always consult your healthcare practitioner before using a new supplement.
Hope these tips help! I’d love to hear from you. Please shoot me an email at Lauren@laurengillan.com