Summer is just around the corner, and I'm willing to bet that bloating isn't on your list of activities to go along with pool time and sun tanning. And as uncomfortable as bloating can be, it's your body's way of letting you know that something isn't quite right with your digestive system. Since your gut is the foundation of your health and wellness (in fact, approximately 70% of your immune system is found in your gut), it's always important to pay attention to digestive symptoms, as they're often a sign of a deeper, underlying issue.
The causes of bloating will always be different for each person. Stress levels, hormones, pre-existing medical conditions and of course, a person's diet and lifestyle are all fa
Improper Food Combining
If you haven't heard of food combining before, it's simply a way of eating that is based on the principles of how specific foods digest when combined together. For example, the fruit in sugar likes to digest very rapidly (usually within twenty minutes), while protein is much slower to digest and takes at least a few hours to begin moving through your GI tract. For this reason, when protein and fruit are eaten in the same meal, an intestinal "traffic jam” can result.
The sugar in fruit will still try to digest quickly, but the protein stops it from being able to do so. This can not only interfere with nutrient
Carbohydrates + Fats = Digest Well Together
example: a vegetarian brown rice bowl with veggies,
Carbohydrates + Proteins = Digest Poorly
example: turkey sandwich with whole grain bread and cheese
Proteins + Fats = Digest Poorly
example: grilled salmon with a hardboiled egg and avocado
Proteins + High Water Content Veggies = Digest Well Together
Fats + High Water Content Veggies = Digest Well Together
a green salad with feta cheese, peppers, pecans and walnuts
Fruit = Digests Best ALONE on an Empty Stomach
Do not combine with any foods other than avocados and leafy greens.
The next time you're bloated after a meal, think back to what foods were on your plate. Often, simply changing the order of the foods you eat can make a significant difference in how you feel after meals and throughout the day (read: more energy and improved digestion).
Drinking Cold Beverages With Meals
There's another common dietary culprit when it comes to bloating, and luckily it's an easy fix. Drinking iced cold drinks can interfere with your digestive process because it can paralyze your digestive enzymes, and has the potential to put out the "digestive fire” (
If you get bloated right after meals, try avoiding cold beverages and replacing them with small sips of warm or room temperature water. Add a squeeze of lemon and a splash of apple cider vinegar for extra digestive support.
Food intolerances are more common than ever, especially when it comes to dairy and gluten. Food intolerances can show up in the form of bloating (or gas or abdominal cramping) quickly after the offending food has been ingested. Food intolerances aren't to be confused with food sensitivities, which can have a delayed response- sometimes upwards of two days after the food has been eaten.
Bloating can be a sign that you're intolerant
Stress wreaks havoc on your entire body, especially your digestive system. When you're stressed, your body releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones signal to the body that you are in survival mode (also known as "fight or flightâ€). When you're in survival mode, one of the last functions your body will prioritize is digestion. Instead, your pupils will dilate, your heart rate will increase and your body will produce more energy. When you encounter stress, regardless of what the situation is, your body always responds the same. So whether or not you're running for your life or worried about a non-life threatening event, your body knows no difference.
For this reason, chronic stress can greatly interfere with your body's ability to efficiently digest the foods you eat, which can result in bloating. This is why managing your stress levels can promote overall better digestive function.
Making time for the activities you love, doing regular gentle exercise such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation and spending time outdoors are all excellent ways to begin relieving stress, which may also contribute to relieving bloating.
Lack of Good Bacteria
We all have a balance of good and "badâ€ bacteria in our digestive systems- we require a delicate balance of both varieties for optimal health. However, when the bad bacteria start to outnumber the good bacteria, digestive symptoms such as bloating can result (not to mention more serious health complications down the road).
A diet high in refined sugar, frequent antibiotic use, chronic stress (you may be starting to see the pattern with stress and digestion here) and processed foods are all factors that can promote the growth of unfriendly bacteria in your gut. This is a condition known as gut dysbiosis. Since the friendly bacteria help promote proper digestive function, an overgrowth of bad bacteria can interfere with digestion and contribute to bloating.
To increase your friendly gut bacteria, you can add fermented foods to your
Not Chewing Your Food
It sounds far too simple, but many people report their digestive symptoms, such as bloating, acid reflux and abdominal cramping, as soon as they put more focus on chewing their food thoroughly. If food enters your digestive system in big chunks (sorry for the visual), your stomach will do it's best to break down the food for you, but that's what teeth are for! If your food isn't properly chewed, it can be harder for your body to digest, which can contribute to bloating.
Eliminating distractions during meal time and focusing only on eating is one of the best ways to remember to chew thoroughly. Avoid driving and eating, or driving and social media-ing at all costs to help prevent bloating.
Now that you're familiar with a few of the most common dietary and lifestyle causes of bloating, let's take a look at foods that prevent bloating.
Lemon is commonly recommended as a natural remedy for bloating because it helps promote digestive function. This is because the acidic nature of lemon is similar to the digestive juices that are found in your stomach. Lemon can also stimulate bile production, which aids in fat digestion.
Adding lemon to your diet is extremely
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains a compound called acetic acid. Acetic acid is said to mimic stomach acid, so it may be helpful for those who experience bloating due to chronic stress or other conditions that
For this reason, taking one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in an 8 oz. glass of water before each meal may help get rid of bloating and promote a flatter tummy. As with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar can also have a harsh effect on tooth enamel, so always be sure to dilute it in water and sip it out of a straw whenever possible.
In addition to apple cider vinegar, apples in their whole form can be a delicious food that prevents bloating. This is because apples are high in fiber and can help move food through the digestive tract more efficiently, which can prevent bloating. The fiber in apples also promotes the removal of toxins that can get stuck in your GI tract and contribute to gut dysbiosis.
When referring back to food combining principles, it's best to eat apples alone on an empty stomach for optimal digestion. As mentioned above, this is because the sugar in fruit likes to digest quicker than any other food, and can cause bloating when mixed with other macronutrients (such as protein or fats) that take longer to digest.
Chlorella is a single-celled
You can easily add chlorella to your diet each day by taking Sun Chlorella tablets, Sun Chlorella granules or adding Sun Chlorella Absolute pure chlorella powder to your green smoothies. You may also want to add chlorella to healthy
Since chlorella is more of a food than a nutritional supplement, it also contains the same antioxidant vitamins and enzymes that are found in raw food, which help support digestion and relieve bloating.
5. Hemp Hearts
Hemp hearts are high in fiber and omega 3 essential fatty acids, which are two nutrients that are critical to healthy digestive function. As mentioned above, fiber helps food move smoothly through the digestive tract and promotes body detoxification. As a natural anti-inflammatory, omega 3 essential fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and improve overall digestive function.
Hemp hearts have a slightly nutty
A unique health benefit of pineapple is that it contains a digestive enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain from pineapples is often a key ingredient in many digestive enzyme supplements that aim to reduce bloating and improve digestion.
I personally recommend getting bromelain from pineapples themselves. Having ½ a cup of fresh pineapple on an empty stomach, at least twenty minutes before a meal will provide your body with extra digestive enzymes to get rid of bloating and promote a flatter tummy.
Similar to pineapple, papaya contains a digestive enzyme called papain. Papain helps digest protein. It's said that papaya is most concentrated in papain when the fruit is unripe. Papaya blends
As you can see, there are several ways and foods to eat to prevent bloating. But what's most important is that by getting rid of bloating, you're supporting the overall health of your gut, which will reduce your risk of illness and disease down the road.
About Brandi Black, RHN
Brandi Black is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from Vancouver, B.C. Experiencing her own health challenges at a young age led her to become passionate about educating on the healing properties of food, and how to achieve hormone balance, clear skin and sustainable weight loss naturally. In her spare
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