BLOATING is something that I used to deal with on nearly an everyday basis for about 5 years. Weird thing was it happened at nearly the same time every single day: between 3 – 5pm, mainly Monday – Friday. I’d look like I was pregnant!
Sometimes my stomach would just be super big and round, other times it would hurt too. I spent SO much time and money and trial/error to get to the root cause of why it was happening to get it to stop completely.
Eventually I learned the reason for my bloating came from 2 main things that were closely connected: leaky gut and food sensitivities (to foods including dairy, soy, beans, sweet potatoes, eggs, and peanuts). Those things were causing me to get bloated, plus experience chronic inflammation and digestive system irritation.
Digestive problems are unfortunately becoming a LOT more common these days because of things like poor diet choices (especially gluten, sugar, alcohol, preservatives/chemicals), chronic stress, toxic overload (coming from places like synthetic pesticides and plastics/BPA) and bacterial imbalance (which can come from candida, antibiotic use, or oral contraceptives).
Luckily, after I finally figured out what was going on, I was able to address it and I’ve felt a million times better for the last 4 years!
While I absolutely recommend getting to the bottom of what’s causing your digestive discomfort (I’d be happy to help you!), having some go-to natural remedies to help relieve discomfort in the moment can be really helpful. Here are some of my old go-to’s:
1. Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes
In order to break down and absorb food efficiently and effectively, your body needs a good supply of digestive enzymes. As we age, the gut becomes less efficient and we naturally begin to produce fewer digestive enzymes. As a result, our digestive tract gradually becomes more alkaline and it becomes more difficult for our bodies to completely break down the foods we eat. It’s best to take digestive enzymes about 30 minutes before a meal.
Probiotics are living organisms that “repopulate” the digestive tract with healthful bacteria, stop the growth of harmful bacteria, keep the immune system strong, and promote overall health. There are lots of natural probiotic-rich foods/drinks: plain unflavored grass-fed yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, pickles, tempeh, kimchi and kombucha. I take a supplement daily in the morning (I rotate to get a variety of good bacterias, like with this one, this one, and this one).
2. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Even to this day, I love sipping on a morning lemon + ACV elixir right when I wake up! This helps increase your stomach acid so you can better digest and break down food, and get everything loose and flowing for the day. Pour yourself a glass of room temperature or slightly warm water, squeeze in 1 or ½ lemon, and a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar (*start with ½ a teaspoon and work up from there). If you have frequent digestive problems, stir up to a tablespoon into a glass of water before your meals.
I couldn’t create a happy-tummy list without mentioning ginger! It’s super powerful in improving your digestive function. If you have any sort of intestinal inflammation (which can come through as bloating but also things like psoriasis or eczema, acne, any sort of skin blemishes) having ginger tea or homemade ginger ale should help calm things down for you. It also has natural prebiotics, which are plant-based fiber that causes good bacteria to grow in your digestive tract for your probiotics to feed off of.
Ginger tea: 1 square inch piece of fresh ginger root, squeeze of lemon, 2 cups filtered water. Peel the ginger root, then grate it and add to boiling water. Boil for 20 minutes. Strain and serve with a slice of lemon.
Ginger ale: 1/2 cup fresh peeled and sliced ginger, 1/4 cup coconut sugar, 1/4 teaspoon powdered stevia (or 8 drops liquid stevia), 2 1/4 cups water. Boil on medium heat then lower heat to simmer for 30 min. Let it sit for 10 min or so before straining into a glass jar. It will cook down to approx. 1 cup. Use as a concentrate with soda water.
4. Eat Mindfully
Most of the time people are stressed and busy – running from 1 thing to the next. When we get stressed our digestive system hits the “pause” button because we go into fight or flight mode. This lets anything you eat while stressed or running around just sit in your stomach, and gas is created. So ideally, don’t eat if you’re stressed and crazed, but if you have to, chew your food super thoroughly and be mentally aware of all of the bites you’re taking.
5. Sip Tea (Peppermint or Chamomile)
Peppermint is great for soothing churning stomachs and easing gas pains. Its essential oil contains menthol, which has an antispasmodic effect of the smooth muscle of the digestive track. It also soothes nerves, and therefore can soothe stomachs that really feel the effect of nervousness and stress.
Not a peppermint fan? Chamomile is a good route to go. It has antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties, and is just plain ol’ relaxing. It can help gas due to indigestion as well as heartburn, whereas peppermint is better for gas caused solely by indigestion.