By Jhoane Robinson
Ever get an uncomfortable, bloated stomach after a big meal? Almost all of us have, and for some of us, it happens way too often and can make life pretty darn miserable. Bloating can happen to anyone of any age, including children.
WHAT IS BLOATING?
Bloating happens in your abdomen when your gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) gets filled with air or gas, or solids (being constipated). Your GI tract is your entire digestive system, from your mouth to your anus.
When bloating occurs, it can make you feel like you’ve over-eaten and your stomach feels full and tight. It can be mildly uncomfortable on up to downright painful. You may burp and belch, have a rumbly tummy, and pass gas. (Which can be quite embarrassing!) Gas is a natural byproduct of digestion, but when you have too much gas in your intestines, it means your digestive processes are out of whack.
With occasional bouts of bloating, in most cases, gas passes. (Don’t groan, it’s a fact.) But how do we reduce the frequency and intensity of bloating and gassiness when it negatively affects our lives?
Read on for tips to help you beat the bloat, have better digestive health, and experience important health benefits so you can enjoy your life more!
Most often the culprit is excess gas, which happens when your digestive system isn’t working at its best. The way you are eating, food sensitivities and/or allergies, hormonal changes, or stress can bring on bloating. If your food isn’t digesting properly, instead of being broken down into smaller compounds so it can move through our digestive processes, it can just sit there and over ferment, causing digestive symptoms of gas and stomach bloating, water retention, and even abdominal pain. Ouch!
COMMON CAUSES OF TEMPORARY BLOATING:
Bloating and the stomach pain, discomfort, tummy rumbling and belching that come with it, can be caused by a variety of things. Here are some common causes:
- Eating too quickly, and/or not chewing your food enough.
- Eating too much fiber. (Yes, you can eat too much fiber, especially coarse grains fiber.)
- Eating rich or fatty foods.
- Food Intolerances: lactose (dairy), fructose (fruit sugars) and other food intolerances such as gluten sensitivity.
- Artificial sweeteners.
- Hormone fluctuations of menstrual cycles and menopause.
- Allergic reactions to certain foods.
- Swallowing air. Gum chewing, eating too fast, using a straw, and nervous gulping can cause you to swallow air.
- Gas-producing High FODMAP foods. (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols)
- Constipation – a huge cause of bloating, which won’t go away until you start defecating.
- Partial bowel blocking (fecal plugs).
- Intestinal wigglers (it happens, especially in children).
- Imbalance in the microbiome affecting the tight junctions of the epithelium cells of the digestive tract and can lead to leaky gut issues.
- Weight gain.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF BLOATING ON DAILY LIFE
Bloating is, at the very least, uncomfortable. And being uncomfortable is, well… uncomfortable! (Belching and passing wind are not something we like to be doing around other people.)
Bloating can contribute to constipation, and constipation can be a cause of bloating, creating a loop of discomfort and ever increasing digestive and health issues.
Over 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Bloating interferes with immune function and can contribute to your immune system not being able to function at its best.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL HELP
Most bloating can be handled with simple changes in diet and lifestyle. However, there are a few health conditions to watch for and seek medical advice if you believe something more serious is going on. Those can be Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), H pylori in the gut, celiac (extreme gluten intolerance), even gallbladder issues.
SEE YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF:
- Bloating gets progressively worse.
- Doesn’t go away after a few days.
- You also have fever, vomiting, or bleeding.
- You have frequent, severe, or persistent bloating.
- You have sudden sharp stabbing or radiating pain in any part of the digestive tract.
TIPS TO REDUCE AND AVOID BLOATING AND IMPROVE YOUR GUT HEALTH:
Identify the Cause! The key to preventing bloating is in understanding the cause.
Everyone’s digestive system is a bit different. What causes gas for you or your child may not for someone else. Here are some suggestions for lifestyle changes that can help reduce your tummy troubles and improve your overall health:
- Avoid foods that are known to cause you gas. FODMAP diet lists gas-producing foods. For people who are sensitive to FODMAP rich foods, the small intestine doesn’t fully digest the carbohydrates and sends them on to the colon. This causes fermenting and gas! Try an elimination diet to identify foods that cause you grief. Target wheat, onions, garlic, legumes, beans, dairy, fructose, and sugar alcohols.
- Reduce or avoid drinking carbonated drinks.
- Don’t eat when stressed or uptight.
- Don’t lay down after a meal.
- Avoid lactose-containing dairy products. Many people are lactose intolerant.
- Cut down on processed and fatty foods.
- Drink less alcohol. For some beers are big bloating culprits.
ACTIONS TO DO:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Exercise. Keeps digestive and lymphatic systems functioning better.
- Eat regularly, slowly, and avoid gulping air.
- Include foods high in digestible fiber – fruits, vegetables, whole grains. If that alone doesn’t help enough, a fiber supplement may help.
- A registered dietitian can give dietary guidance, especially one working with gut health.
To improve your digestive processes, you need to address your gut microbiome. Your microbiome is made of the microorganisms that live in your GI tract and are vital to digestive and immune function. Having healthy digestion is not only important for digestion and tummy comfort, but for your overall health, including your immune function. A large part of your immune system resides in your gut!
Your microbiome can get out of balance from antibiotics, which also knock out good gut bacteria when they knock out bad bacteria.
Recommendations here will help you build and maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
HERBS & SPICES FOR REDUCING GAS & BLOATING:
When used on a regular basis, herbs and spices can improve your overall digestive processes, and they don’t cause side effects that medications are known to do. Culinary use of herbs and spices should be a part of good dietary practice.
- Peppermint, and peppermint oil
- Ginger root
- Fennel seed
- Caraway seed
- Cumin seed
WHAT ARE DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS?
Dietary supplements are intended to supplement your diet and to boost, build, and support your health.
NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS THAT CAN PROVIDE RELIEF FROM BLOATING
- Magnesium – helps neutralize stomach acid, relaxes intestinal muscles, and helps reduce constipation.
- Probiotic supplement – probiotics help balance gut bacteria and help your digestion function better. Some probiotic strains help absorb excess gasses. Look for lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – unfiltered with the ‘mother ’ has gut-friendly probiotics.
- Activated charcoal – occasional use cuts bloating caused by over-fermentation in the gut.
- Digestive Enzymes – boosting enzymes with a dietary enzyme supplement helps digestion.
- Amino acids – especially L-glutamine, which helps relieve excess bloating.
- Psyllium husk – for occasional help with clearing the colon. Use with plenty of water.
- Bloat Capsules – dietary supplements designed to bring down bloating.
- Vitamin D – a very important vitamin for gut health and to improve absorption of nutrients.
- Iron Supplements – iron deficiency negatively influences the microbiota of the intestinal tract, so supplementing with chelated iron helps build better digestion.
CEDAR BEAR’S HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR BLOATING
These formulas address many digestive issues, particularly imbalances in the microbiome and intestinal ‘freeloaders.’ While the herbs in Intestinal Cleanse are strong ones, the formula is very gentle on the body. Use for 2-3 weeks, take a week off, then repeat for 2-3 weeks.
(A great herbal formula for all ages.)
The gut flora, essentially a ‘community’ of trillions of microorganisms that live in the digestive system, aids digestion and supports immune system functions. Helps reduce tummy upset and gassiness, and is a must for the gut!
Reduces gas, soothes digestive system tissues, and benefits overall digestion. Great for upset stomach, whatever the cause!
Strengthens tissues throughout your digestive system.
Helps improve gut health, reducing bloating and gas.
Helps with tissue building, especially throughout the digestive tract.
A liver-supporting herb that helps increase bile activity for better digestion.
If you are experiencing bloating and its accompanying problems, it’s important for your health to get your digestive tract back on track! Reduce your digestive issues by following the suggestions in this article and adding great-tasting Cedar Bear liquid herbs made with all-natural ingredients to your daily health support.
(These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure, or prevent any disease.)