Despite all my efforts to get a lovely flat stomach, there are certain things I eat and drink that leave me with a heavy, gassy feeling in my lower abdomen. If, like me, you suffer from a distended belly from time to time, then you’re probably feeling my pain right now. So I’d like to share my Top 6 things to beat belly bloat.
But first, let’s look at the possible causes.
What causes belly bloat?
Now we’re not talking about excess stomach fat here. No, we’re talking about that temporary bloat around our abdomen, often after meals. There are a number of probable culprits. The types of food we eat, too many carbonated drinks. It could be a food intolerance such as lactose (worth getting this checked out if you have concerns about allergies). Certain “cruciferous” vegetables are infamous for causing intestinal gas (think of the aftermath of those Christmas Brussel Sprouts!!).
The physical bloating we experience is usually down to intestinal gas. Gas in our intestine is partly caused by swallowing air when we eat (more so when we eat too quickly and “gulp” down our food). And from gas produced by our gut bacteria that help to digest food.
Note of caution: chronic gas together with prolonged, painful swelling or other more serious symptons such as nausea, chronic constipation etc could be signs of something more serious like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so if this is you, get it checked out!
So what simple steps can we take to help reduce the belly bloat?
My Top 6 Things to Beat Belly Bloat
There are a huge array of solutions out there to help combat bloating. If you’re looking for some quick and natural remedies to help keep the bloat at bay, then try these:
- Ginger. The No. 1 aid in reducing inflammation. Go back to the 4th century BC and you’ll find it mentioned in Chinese medical texts. By promoting peristalsis (the contractions of the intestinal wall) it can aid digestion and help to beat belly bloat. Fresh is best – have it in tea after a meal for the perfect digestive aid.
- Lemon: a personal favourite of mine and how I start my mornings! Lemons are a classic way to detox. Lemon polyphenols can provide a boost of antioxidants, help to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, and reduce belly bloat. Mix it with fresh ginger for a double whammy! Or simply add a wedge to a cup of hot water and start your day right!
- Raw almonds. These little blighters have a very positive effect on our gut flora. And they’re good for balancing blood sugar too (fewer spikes in blood sugar helps prevent bloating by lowering the cortisol response that causes our bodies to retain water).
- Magnesium-rich foods. Kale, spinach, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are all rich in magnesium. This helps reduce fluid retention so make sure it’s a daily addition to your nutritional intake.
- Bananas. A good source of prebiotic fibre, this fruit helps to feed good gut bacteria and thereby improve digestion and reduce bloating. A staple addition to my breakfast shake!
- Peppermint Tea. Yes, good old-fashioned peppermint tea. Mint has been used for thousands of years to aid digestion. So why not try a cup of refreshing tea after your meal to give your digestive system a helping hand.
What else can we do to beat belly bloat?
Remember, digestion starts in the mouth not the stomach. So eat more slowly AND chew more! This will help the gut bacteria from having to work so hard and thereby reduce bloating. Another benefit to eating more slowly and chewing more? You’ll actually feel more satisfied more quickly and could end up eating less!
Quit the gum! If you do like to chew gum, keep it to a minimum – chewing gum can result in you taking in more air and bloating up that belly!
Cut down on rich and fatty foods. Fat takes longer to digest than proteins and carbohydrates so it keeps the stomach fuller for longer.
Cut down on artificial sweeteners and be mindful of your salt intake. Both can cause bloating. In other words, stick to fresh, clean, whole foods where possible and avoid processed foods which could contain higher quantities of both.
If possible, go with a “little and often” eating regime. Instead of 3 big meals a day, try eating 5 or 6 smaller portions. Remember to compensate for this new protocol by reducing portion sizes and spreading out your daily macronutrient intake (proteins, carbohydrates and fats). This type of eating regimen could also reduce hunger and control blood sugar.
And if you do all of this and you still have a big belly? Maybe it’s time to try some ab exercises 🙂
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