Do you feel like you put on a pound or two after a big meal? Maybe have to unzip your pants? Do you look in the mirror sometimes and think you look pregnant because of how bloated you are?
If so.. I have something really exciting to tell you! Contrary to how you may feel, it is not fat growing at warp speed. It’s intestinal distention (aka bloating), and it is temporary inflammation based what you put inside your body. Think of it this way… When your intestines don’t like something you have put in, it will swell. I’m sure you have heard of inflammation, and that it is a direct response to trouble in the body. This is no different than the response when you cut yourself: redness, heat, pain and swelling occur as your body works to try to mend that area. Inflammation is used as a negative term, but we do in fact need inflammation for acute issues. Problems arise when the inflammation becomes chronic. Think of any condition that ends with the suffix “-itis”. Colitis (colon inflammation), bronchitis (lung inflammation), hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and so on…
Chronic inflammation in the gut not only looks bad and makes you feel bigger than you are, but it is likely the root cause of many diseases. Think of the digestive tract as your waste management company. Now think of an inflamed digestive tract as your waste management company on strike! Yup.. not a very nice situation.
There are many digestive issues that can cause this bloating that are ALWAYS related directly to diet. A common one is low stomach acid. When your stomach doesn’t have enough acid to break down foods, your stomach actually opens prematurely, letting out acidic food into the intestines…
But wait, I just said LOW stomach acid. That doesn’t make sense, does it?
The only organ that has acid is the stomach, and has a mucous lining to protect it from being burned by the acid. The intestines don’t have the same lining, so they can become very damaged by coming into contact with ANY amount of acid, which is why the pancreas shoots out something called bicarbonate, which neutralizes the acid. When the chyme (ball of food mixed with acid in your stomach), is not acidic enough, there is no signal for the pancreas to shoot out bicarbonate, and so that acidic food is now travelling through your intestinal tract.
So what do we do about it? How do we get rid of this awful bloating once and for all!
Here are your 5 tips to ditch abdominal bloating for good!
Probiotics are an absolute must in your life, no matter who you are. We are born sterile and get our first bout of good bacteria from the birth canal and the first bit of breastmilk (colostrum). So those born via c-section and formula fed babies have an increased need for dietary probiotics as a baby.
Over time, through a high sugar diet, which feeds harmful bacteria, we lose our ratio of good to bad bacteria, which should be about 85:15 good:bad (simply put, the good bacteria needs something to fight to keep it strong). Taking a probiotic supplement or eating fermented foods will give you just enough of what you need. However, you need a good diet to keep the bad bacteria at bay, which brings me to my next point.
Remove Allergenic Foods
There are 5 main things to avoid to heal the gut. They are highly inflammatory and include gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and GMO products such as conventional corn (throw all your corn based gluten free foods out the window and never look back)! GMO corn actually pokes microscopic holes through your intestines, starting a cascade of events that lead to allergies.
So I know what you’re thinking.. how about telling me what I CAN eat! Stick to organic animal products in small amounts, loads of fresh veggies, fermented foods, a little bit of fruit, nuts, seeds, oils, and tons of water. That is about it. That gives you all the whole foods that nature intended for you to eat.
Buying organic is super important when buying meat because it allows you to avoid antibiotics (kills probiotics), and hormones, as well as GMO products that the animals have been fed. I will explain GMOs in future blog posts in more detail. Organic produce is more nutritionally dense, but you are also using your money to vote organic. When you vote organic, demand will go up, and then so will supply, which will eventually decrease the price. That’s the goal!
Removing the basic allergenic foods is a great start here, but you may be sensitive to to other things as well. The only way to know for sure is to get an IgG blood test done. This is a test you have to pay ~200 for in Canada, but it’s well worth it if you ask me.
Improve Digestive Strength
There are lots of way you can do this but lets start at the root. In order for stomach acid to improve, you need a thick mucous lining in your stomach. Zinc is one mineral supplement you can take to increase stomach mucous. On top of that you want to add some type of bitter or acid before meals. Apple cider vinegar is the simplest pre-meal shot. Mix a bit with some water, maybe a tsp of each, and drink it about 15 minutes before you eat.
Don’t overeat, so that you don’t overwhelm your stomach with too much to break down, and give your body at least 3 hours between eating to allow your digestive system to rest.
Avoid coffee around meal times as well, as it forces that premature stomach emptying we just discussed.
Dont mix food and stress
There is one thing you need to understand here. Your body is wired to deal with stress, or digestion, and not both at the same time. The stress response sends blood to your extremities so you can be prepared to fight or run from danger. This is your sympathetic nervous system. On the other hand, your parasympathetic nervous system sends blood to your core, where all your organs can do their jobs at peace, when there is no threat of danger.
I know you’re not in danger every time your stressed, but your poor body doesn’t quite get that. Your body was wired to respond to a tiger chasing you, not to a traffic jam or fight with your significant other. When you are stressed, ride it out, and do what you can to calm down before eating. Your heart rate and breathing should be normal, you should be seated, and in good company, if any. Try taking 3 deep breaths before starting a meal. This will help send the message to your body that you are safe and calm and ready to digest.
Listen to your body
Sometimes all the tips and tricks in the world won’t be enough. You have to listen to your body. Start to pay attention to what feels good in your body. For me, one meal that always soothes and never bloats is white fish and cooked veggies. I know that chick peas and raw peppers make me instantly bloated.
The more you listen, the more your body will give you messages as to what it needs and doesn’t need for that matter.