A Deep Dive into Debloating - Part 2
How to get rid of bloating for good
Bloating can be complex territory to navigate and treat alone. But don’t worry, babe! We’ve got your back!
Now that you know what could potentially be causing your bloated belly (see part 1 of our Deep Dive into Debloating Part 1), it’s time to learn more about the gut and how to get rid of bloating for good.
Why restoring your gut health improves bloating
According to Functional Medicine expert Dr. Mark Hyman, the gut is the most essential organ system to focus on when it comes to overall health and well-being.
Why? The gut contains your microbiome, your inner kingdom of good and bad bacteria, which are responsible for making sure many bodily and mental systems function optimally. These roles include 2-way communication with the brain, optimal digestion of food, and producing vitamins, minerals, and other vital substances that the body needs to ensure physical, cognitive, and emotional wellbeing.
Recent research shows that even minor changes in your gut kingdom can lead to significant changes in gut function, including gas production and resultant bloating.
So, to maintain and rule over your inner kingdom fairly and effectively, you need to learn how to look after the living things within it.
Incorporating daily strategies like healthy lifestyle changes, eating clean and taking the right supplements can go a long way to ensuring your gut bacteria is balanced and healthy.
But before we dive deeper into these strategies, we first need to learn about the gut-brain connection!
The gut-brain connection
You have probably heard the saying ‘trust your gut’, right? Well, it doesn’t come from thin air. There is a lot of truth to it!
According to research on gut-brain psychology, the gut is the biggest digestive, immune, and endocrine organ of the human body, covering the entire lining of the GI tract from the oesophagus to the rectum.
This lining is home to an independent nervous system called the enteric nervous system (ENS), which contains over 100 million nerve endings responsible for ensuring effective digestion.
According to Jay Pasricha, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, our ENS controls all digestive functions, including swallowing, passing of food, production of digestive enzymes that break down food, blood flow, nutrient absorption and elimination of waste products.
Being in charge of such vital functions makes our gut our second brain. This is because our second brain can communicate with our actual brain and simultaneously acts independently from the brain in performing its roles.
Recent studies indicate that digestive issues in the gut may trigger the ENS to send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) and vice versa, which can affect our mood. This 2-way communication can explain why people who suffer from digestive issues also struggle with psychological disorders like anxiety and depression.
In addition to altering mood, this inherent gut-brain connection is quite impressive because the gut and the living microorganisms within it work together in regulating human behavior, stress response, emotion, cognition (like learning ability and memory), immunity (as the gut houses more than 70% of all active immune cells) and overall homeostasis (through hormone regulation), similar to that of the actual brain.
How amazing! We have two brains working simultaneously to ensure overall physical, mental and emotional wellness.
It is, therefore, our responsibility to ensure both brains are well taken care of so that we prevent disturbances in the gut and frustrating symptoms like bloating.
Our top tips and tricks for beating the bloat
Phew! We know! It’s a lot of information to digest, but trust us, getting a better understanding of your gut and how you can treat bloating effectively, will all be worth it. Promise!
Now that you know what bloating is, its causes, and how the gut-brain connection works, it is finally time, little grasshopper, to learn how to beat the bloat.
To help narrow down the strategies and get you going on your journey to bringing your mind and gut back into balance, we give you our top tips and tricks for debloating below.
1. Find and treat the cause of bloating:
The first step in getting rid of the bloat is to look at the bigger picture, drill down to the cause and treat your gut microbiome as a whole.
If you don’t suffer from a digestive condition or specific FGID (functional gastrointestinal disorder), then simple lifestyle changes (as listed below) may be the answer you have been looking for!
But, if you are experiencing debilitating bloating symptoms that won’t go away, then it’s time to consult a medical or health professional to help you get to the root of the problem and provide the options available to you when it comes to healing your gut.
These options may include certain medications (like antispasmodics, antibiotics, and antidepressants) and mind-body therapies (like hypnotherapy, acupuncture, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques) that help heal the gut, soothe the mind, and keep these chronic conditions under control.
2. Change your eating habits:
The most effective strategy by far is changing what and how you eat. A healthy diet shapes our gut microbiome and keeps our gut-brain functions in balance.
Remember, what you put in, is what you get out!
- Become aware of your food sensitivities: Keep a food journal and figure out which foods are triggering your bloating. Once identified, try to reduce or remove these foods from your diet. Keep a close eye on greasy foods, wheat, grains, beans, sugar, and dairy because these are usually the bad guys. If you are unsure, always consult a nutritionist!
- Eat whole foods: Incorporate a lot of whole foods in your diet that are rich in vitamins, minerals, unsaturated-healthy fats, and polyphenols like avocados, nuts, seeds, and whole fruits, vegetables, and grains like quinoa and brown rice. Also, incorporate fermented foods like yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi to help balance your gut.
- Avoid: Stay away from highly processed foods; high sodium foods; caffeinated, carbonated, or alcoholic drinks like beer and soda; and sugary foods or artificial sweeteners. If you need more flavor, use herbs and spices to keep things interesting instead of automatically reaching for the salt!
- Keep an eye on your fiber intake: Incorporating fiber-rich foods into your diet, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can prevent digestive issues like constipation and bloating. But remember to add more fiber slowly so your digestive system can keep up!
Eat mindfully: Consume your food slowly, paying attention to the taste, texture, smell, and look of your food. Try to limit distractions by putting away your technological devices and ensuring your meals are done in solitude, giving yourself the space and grace to digest your food properly. Recent studies have shown that this way of eating can help prevent overeating, emotional eating, and swallowing extra air, which can reduce weight gain and bloating.
3. Keep yourself hydrated:
We have all heard it before. Staying hydrated is super important! Especially when it comes to preventing bloating.
Why? Constant fluids can help flush out your system, move your food along the GI tract, increase the diversity of gut bacteria, and prevent digestive issues such as water retention and constipation, which cause bloating.
A good benchmark for women is about 2-2.5 liters of water daily.
4. Stay active and move your body:
Going for a walk or hike, joining a yoga class, going to the gym or just rolling out your muscles with a foam roller are all good ways of keeping your body (and gas) moving.
Research has shown that daily movement helps to stimulate your digestive system, calms your nervous system, decreases inflammation, improves detoxification, blood circulation, immunity, and sleep, and reduces GI symptoms like bloating.
5. Add probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and supplements to your daily routine:
Research shows that incorporating daily supplements can ensure you get all the right nutrients in your diet, rebalance the gut, break down food and support your overall digestive and mental health.
- Vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals: a multivitamin, zinc, magnesium, iron, antioxidants (namely vitamins A, C & E) and amino acids (like glutamine) all contribute to moving things along and keeping the GI tract strong and healthy.
- Prebiotics and Probiotics: certain strains help prime the gut, increase the diversity of bacteria, strengthen the gut barrier, regulate metabolism and sugar levels, improve the effects of mental disorders like anxiety and depression, and promote overall gut-brain health.
Digestive enzymes: taking digestive enzymes, particularly before meals and when you are stressed, helps to calm and soothe your digestive system aiding in the proper breakdown, digestion, and absorption of food.
6. Relax, rest, and digest:
Stress is a killer. It contributes to most physical and mental disorders and diseases we experience today.
When it comes to the gut, stress slows it down completely and can make bloating worse.
Learning how to calm your nervous system and help your body ‘rest and digest’ is crucial for ensuring overall health!
Some of the ways you can sit back and relax include:
- Taking a hot Epsom salt bath
- Practising breathing techniques like diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing
- Having regular naps and getting enough sleep
- Reconnecting with nature
Doing anything that you find calming and peaceful will do the trick!
If you suffer from occasional bloating, especially after meals, using some of the tips and tricks mentioned above can go a long way to providing you with that relief you have been searching for.
But if you suffer from constant or severe bloating, it’s time to contact a medical or health professional to help you get to the root of the problem and solve it so that you can live your life to the fullest!
If you are still sitting there thinking, “thanks for the tips, but how do I start healing my gut TODAY?”. Well, we have that covered too in Part 3 of our deep dive into debloating, where we reveal our secret gut healing weapon and how you can ‘trust your gut’. See you there ;)