Let’s talk about gas and bloating. As a nutritionist I know that people struggle with it. A lot.
Narrowing down the reasons why some people get bloated can take some detective work, but it is possible if you’re willing to put in a bit of time and effort.
A gas leak (if you know what I mean) can create all sorts of awkward and uncomfortable situations. This is why I have come up with the following natural remedies which can help keep you keep your digestion in line.
Here are 11 ways to help rid gas and bloating.
1. Consider your diet
Many foods are gas forming foods and can bring on that uneasy and uncomfortable gassy, bloated feeling – such as soy, gluten, dairy, refined sugars and even alcohol, especially if you’re intolerant or sensitive to them. Other known gas forming foods include cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, beans, legumes, cabbage, onions, peas and brussel sprouts.
If you have other digestive issues such as IBS, diarrhoea, constipation or acid reflux, try eating fewer of these vegetables. Yes, you read that correctly! These vegetables are very high in insoluble fibre. While soluble fibre can be soothing to the gut, insoluble fibre is a bit like rubbing steel wool onto your skin if you are having gut issues.
We recommend: If you know a specific food is an issue for you, listen to the wisdom of your body and avoid it. Try to reduce the amount of vegetables high in insoluble fibre and focus on high soluble fibre vegetables instead including beetroot, yam, plantains, squash, potatoes, zucchini, sweet potato, pumpkin, parsnip, and carrots. Also start to simplify your meals. Try having just one or two vegetables with fish or slow cooked meat and a fermented vegetable to allow your body to digest food with ease.
2. Consider your digestion
Foods that are not properly broken down can create gas and bloating. These issues are very common for those on acid blocking medications, those lacking sleep and those who are under large amounts of stress. Look at the way you eat. Do you eat standing up, on the run, in the car or mindlessly in front of your work desk? Do you shovel food down? All of these can also increase or create that uncomfortable gas and bloating.
We recommend: Become aware of the way you eat and chew your food mindfully and slowly. Don’t sit in front of the TV to eat your meals, sit at your dining table and share food with family and friends. From doing this small action you may find that medication is no longer needed. Sleep and stress management are also addressed in other steps.
3. Consider your gut bugs
We are 90% microbial. One hundred trillion bacteria live in our guts. In an ideal world our gastro intestinal tracts have perfect integrity from top to bottom. However, leaky gut is becoming more and more common and increased permeability of our gut can lead to increased digestive issues such as gas and bloating. If our gut flora is imbalanced with not enough good guys and too many pathogenic bacteria, this can cause a real problem.
We recommend: Nourish and heal your gut by incorporating homemade ferments such as kefir, yoghurt, kombucha, beet kvass and sauerkraut – and also start to add bone broths into your diet. Start incorporating food with pre-biotics (onion, garlic, leek, asparagus, plantains and sweet potato) if these foods are tolerated well, as they provide food for the bacteria already living in your gut, while fermented foods and Changing Habits All Natural Probiotics may help spruce up the health of your intestine.
4. Consider your hydration (or lack of)
Sometimes it can be as simple as correcting your hydration. If you are dehydrated you are more likely to have fluid retention and also harder stools. You may not have even considered how being correctly hydrated affects your stools but it is very important to maintain regularity.
We recommend: To have the correct electrolyte balance it’s important to add a good quality salt to your diet and/or water. We recommend adding 1/8th tsp of Changing Habits Seaweed Salt to every 500ml of water you drink. This will ensure you’re not on the toilet every half hour as it enables the body to process and utilise the water for every cell in the body instead of passing it straight through your kidneys.
5. Consider your sleep
Are you getting enough good quality sleep every single night? Sleep is so important for your nervous system, mental clarity and focus, state of mind and energy. Sleep is not often thought about when you think about gas and bloating. However, when your body doesn’t get enough sleep this in turn affects the body’s ‘rest and digest’ function which is responsible for producing our digestive enzymes, bile, acid and also affects our gut motility.
We recommend: Make sure you stop using all technology at least 2 hours before bed time. Dim the lights or use candles and salt lamps, try connecting to the earth for at least 20 minutes daily as this helps to improve sleep, promote calmness and reduce stress levels. It also helps to relieve muscle tension, headaches, chronic pain and reduce inflammation. By connecting with nature, avoiding the use of technology and dimming the lights enables your body’s natural circadian rhythms to balance back to how they should be. You can also try dabbing a drop of lavender oil onto your feet or palms before going to bed as a calming aid which promotes sleep.
6. Consider your stress levels
Stress is also an overlooked aspect to any number of health issues. Stress will also affect many, many aspects of our health including the ‘rest and digest’ branch of the nervous system.
We recommend: Try to manage your stress levels. Consider taking up yoga or meditation, find time for yourself, write in a journal or practice gratitude journaling, exercise and manage your time better to allow more time for the things you love to do. Aim to go on a holiday every year to switch off completely and relax. Get out into nature as much as you can and for as long as you can. Try deep breathing and utilise essential oils such as ‘Instant Calm’ or ‘Destress and Revive’ or ‘Peace and Meditation’ from TWENTY8.
7. Consider exercise
Simple and gentle exercises can help move the gas through your system and ease the discomfort and/or pain. Exercise not only reduces stress it also boosts our mood and immunity and helps in the body’s natural detoxification processes.
We recommend: Certain yoga poses such as cobra, child’s pose or hero can help with digestion and improve bloating. Try going for a walk along the beach or in nature, a bike ride, or a swim in the ocean or a lake, or simply do some form of movement you love to do.
8. Consider your protein
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘proteins are the building blocks of life’. Amino acids make up our cells, bone, muscle, collagen, hair, immune cells, enzymes and so on. Without protein we’d be unable to replace old cells which would lead to some serious health issues. Including a good quality protein (the amount decided by your own individual body) in each meal and snack will do wonders for reducing puffiness and fluid retention. Protein can act like a natural diuretic and help your body get rid of extra water which may be adding to your bloating issues.
We recommend: For breakfast, avoid cereal, muffins, pancakes and toast and opt for protein rich eggs, a real food smoothie (like our Inca Inchi Mango Protein Smoothie or our Favourite Green Smoothie) or leftovers from dinner like slow cooked meat and vegetables. To incorporate protein into your snacks, try an apple or vegetable sticks with nut or seed butter, a homemade raw slice (like our Nut Free Chocolate Topped Muesli Squares or our Raw Honey and Vanilla Nut Free Squares), bliss balls, quality cheese or some activated nuts or seeds.
9. Consider your herbs and spices
Peppermint is great for soothing and easing gas pains and bloating. It has an anti-spasmodic effect of the smooth muscle of the digestive tract. Ginger is also a wonderful tummy tamer. Ginger is capable of performing its wonders because of the varying active components it contains which help to relax the intestinal tract and ease inflammation. Ginger also contains a component called carminative that helps to prevent excessive gas formation and also helps to expel it. Another herb that has been used for centuries is caraway. Caraway aids in expelling trapped gas in the digestive tract. Anise seed also has anti-spasmodic properties and helps the digestive tract to relax, aiding in expelling gas, improving cramping and the bloating that goes with it. Did you know that cinnamon is also effective in relieving abdominal discomfort brought on from gas and bloating?
We recommend: Drink peppermint tea or rub peppermint oil with a carrier oil onto your abdomen to give yourself a gentle belly massage. Make ginger root tea by steeping it in hot water. You can also add ginger to many baked or raw goods and savoury dishes like curries and stir-fries. You can also munch on a few caraway seeds if you suffer from regular gas and bloating. Begin adding Changing Habits Organic Ceylon Cinnamon to tea, smoothies, baked or raw goods, stews and curries – there are many recipes on the Changing Habits website.
10. Consider activated charcoal
Activated charcoal has been used for years in hospitals to absorb toxins after accidental exposure to chemicals or an overdose of alcohol or medication because of its ability to trap and force toxins to pass through the body. Activated charcoal can be seen as a multi-purpose treatment as it has also been prescribed for some digestive conditions, especially those that cause gas and bloating. Activated charcoal is a wonderful digestive aid, it also promotes a healthy digestive tract by removing the toxic burden in our bodies from environmental factors, pesticides and herbicides on our foods, chemicals in our water and mould exposure.
We recommend: As charcoal attracts and absorbs many substances (and we don’t know exactly which ones) if you take activated charcoal, take it away from food and drink so it doesn’t interfere with the bodies mineral and nutrient intake. Follow the instructions on the bottle working with your chosen health care provider.
11. Consider your motility
Those who are constipated tend to be more gassy and bloated. Are you having a bowel motion daily, less than daily or only twice per week? A key strategy for managing gas and bloating is having regular and healthy bowel movements.
We recommend: Familiarise yourself with the Bristol Stool Chart – a 3 and 4 is ideal. Consider your diet, hydration, sleep, stress, gut flora and digestion. Try a stomach massage like this one with a few drops of peppermint oil, magnesium spray and a carrier oil such as jojoba oil, castor oil or Changing Habits Inca Inchi Oil or Coconut Oil. A stomach massage will help to ease the gas through your system and make you expel it faster allowing some relief and also improving bowel regularity. If you are still having issues after addressing all of the steps mentioned above, then you may need to seek further advice from our qualified nutritionists at Changing Habits.
Happy Changing Habits,
Jordan, Changing Habits Nutritionist