4 Ways To Banish Daytime Bloat
By Desiree Nielsen BSc RD
Feeling ugh? You’re not alone…bloating is one of the most common complaints I receive in my practice. Especially after a long summer of merriment. The challenge is determining what’s normal…and what isn’t. Bloating requires both the production of gas in the intestines…and slow movement of that gas through the intestines. We can swallow that gas, or produce it when the acidic contents of our stomach meet the alkaline secretions within the intestine.
However, the most common source of intestinal gas is the trillions of microbes fermenting whatever they find in your gut. The most surprising culprit? Stress. Think about it, when stressed, you’re in ‘fight or flight’ mode. One of the biological actions of this mode is to shuttle blood fl ow away from the digestive system to the brain and the limbs.
For some people, food intolerances can also make bloating more severe. The classic culprits are called FODMAPS: fermented oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides and polyols. FODMAPS are carbohydrates like lactose and fructose that are not fully digested by many; eating FODMAPS can increase gas and make elimination troublesome in sensitive individuals. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, fully eliminating FODMAPS can bring significant relief.
For the rest of us, you may be surprised at how powerful small changes can be in improving bloating. Try these simple steps to improve bloating before considering more intensive measures.
JUST BREATHE That’s right…breathe. Deep breathing can help de-stress and improve digestion. One of my favourite techniques is called square breathing. Simply inhale for a count of four and hold it for four counts; then exhale for four and hold the exhale. Do a few rounds of this whenever you feel stressed…and before each meal. Over time, this technique will become a clear signal to the body that it’s time to eat.
MOVE YOUR BODY Your gut is a muscle; if you want it to move, you need to move! Prolonged sitting can lead to increased bloating because you’re physically compressing the gut. In addition, some people experience more bloating due to their abdominal wall not being as strong as needed to properly contain the gut wall. Sitting up tall can help reduce abdominal compression while also strengthening abdominal muscles. TIP: Try doing one minute of standing stretches every hour at work. Toe touches, side bends and gentle torso twists are great. It doesn’t have to be intense; even a 15 minute mid-day walk can do wonders.
FIGHT BACTERIA If your diet has been on the indulgent side over the summer, it could be that your gut bacteria are out of balance. A great way to bring your bacterial community back into balance quickly is to fight back with the beneficial bacteria found in Bio-K+. A daily dose of Bio-K+ Blueberry has been a part of my routine for years; the 50 billion live active cells help to fight off more troublesome bacteria and ease symptoms of gas and bloating.
RESIST CONSTANT MUNCHING This tip often surprises people; over the years, we’ve become near constant munchers. However, we weren’t meant to eat in this way. Peristalsis, the natural sweeping motion of the gut, continues to work even when the absorption has finished, with a beneficial effect on bloating and bacterial growth. When there is constantly food in the gut, more bloating is likely as all of those chemical reactions occur. In addition, the small amount of bacteria that live in the small intestine are more likely to overgrow if fed a constant supply of nutrients. So get reacquainted with your hunger cues. When you are hungry, eat…but resist the urge to nibble from dawn to dusk.
Your gut is a remarkable machine; while it’s true that it can fall out of balance when faced with modern life, it also responds beautifully to intentional care. Take small steps to foster better gut health and you may find that you and your gut are back in sync. If you have more chronic digestive concerns, restoring full balance may require a bit more work. To learn more about evidence-based techniques to fight bloating, check out my 21 day program, Banish the Bloat on www.Desire.com.