Bloating is something all of us experience and it is annoying as hell. It makes the day uncomfortable and very unsexy. I have gone real basic in this post and outlined the reasons why we get bloating and how to prevent it. However, there are many more possible reason for your daily bloat because everyone is different so if you feel that you would like a one on one consultation please contact me on my Instagram @aine_bl and we will get to the bottom of your problems.
Reasons for the bloat
- Drinking cold water before, during, or after a meal.
The body needs the water to be warm in order for the chemical reactions to take place in the stomach. So if the water is cold your body will firstly put all it’s energy into warming the water up before digesting the food. This prolongs the time that your food is being digested.
- Not chewing food properly and being active straight away.
If you don’t chew your food properly then the body will take longer digesting it, especially if the food is hard to digest food like protein and fat. Also, if you bolt down the food and then start moving round quickly you will slow down digestion because more of your energy will go towards fuelling the skeletal muscles.
- Not paying attention to our food when eating.
There’s some cool studies done about this and all of them show that we absorb less of the nutrients from our meal when we are doing something simultaneously while eating. This is because the cephalic phase (smelling, anticipating, and seeing food) accounts for around 30% of overall digestion, so if you’re busy watching TV you’re less likely to be looking at your food and therefore the signals from your eyes, to your brain, and to your stomach will be weaker. Weaker signals means less digestive enzymes are secreted to break down your food because we have failed to let the stomach and intestines know how much food it should be preparing for. Poorly digested food equals bloating.
- Eating fruit with something else.
Fruit is digested very fast. Everything else? Not so fast. Throwing fruit together with other types of food can cause it to putrefy while the other food is getting digested. Moreover, different types of fruit digest at different rate too so if you mix you’re fruit together that could also be a reason for bloating.
- Low HCl and digestive enzymes.
HCl is an essential chemical in the stomach that kills of most harmful microbes, break down protein, and stop food from putrefaction. A nutritionally poor diet does not provide the body with sufficient vitamins and minerals to produce the tools (enzymes, co-enzymes, bile, and all the other chemicals) needed to breakdown your food. This means that your body has fewer tools and therefore it will take longer to digest what you ingest.
- Parasitic worms, fungus and bacteria.
Whenever I bring up the fact that we all have parasitic worms my friends look disgusted and tell me that I might have them but they definitely do not. However, as gross as it sounds, we do have them and at low levels they are absolutely fine. Unfortunately, eating fruit and veg that hasn’t been washed extensively, uncooked meat (raw or med steak), and unclean water allows the accumulation of worms and other parasites including fungus and harmful bacteria. These organisms take in nutrients are release metabolic waste which can cause thee bloating. Moreover, they steal some of the nutrients that you eat.
Stress has a massive influence om bloating and digestion problems; you can eat the best diet ever but if you’re consistently tense, stressed, scared, worried, or sad your bloating can still continue. When I was at university and an exam that I had not prepared for was coming up I got the most horrendous bloating, my stomach was rock hard, and painful. I was also throwing up and had the runs. Yet, the moment I went to the GP and they told me I can sit my exam in the summer, my stomach started to ease up and 10 min later the pain and bloating was gone. The moment the body is in fight or flight mode is does not give a crap about your digestion and these days more and more of our hours are occupied with stressful situations.
- Not enough water.
Water is needed for every metabolic reaction in our bodies (and in all other living organisms) so if you’re not hydrated then you will get constipation…which will make you bloated. Moreover, you will be slower at digesting food because there is less water to go round for the chemical reactions.
- Eating too much.
Obviously. Although some people over eat without even knowing due to them grabbing things on the way, snacking while working, and all that jazz. Sometimes you forget when you ate, what food combinations you ate, you and didn’t respect your fullness.
Pharmaceuticals focus on blocking a certain metabolic pathway in order to block your symptoms. However, because every metabolic pathway is connected, the medication might be interfering with digestion and thus give you the super sexy pregnant tummy.
- Eating processed foods.
They are nutrient scarce so they don’t bring anything to the table. The body has to go into its reserves to cough up the vitamins and minerals needed to digest the food. Moreover, this is the ultimate superfood for our harmful bacteria and fungus: they thrive of simple sugars and bad fats hence they will be eating and producing more waste in the form of gas.
- High salt intake (water retention).
Taking in salt is perfectly fine and I see nothing wrong. However, eating something very salty is going to make your body hold onto the water because it needs a balanced salt to water ratio. Most people get too much of the grow type of salt from from their plain table salt and from processed foods. Even sweet processed food has it.
- Eating a lot of fruit and vegetables
The breakdown of fruit and vegetables, especially their fibre, is influenced by the beneficial bacteria in our gut. However, if you don’t regularly have a large portion of fruit or veg then your healthy bacteria will exist in low numbers. Cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, and broccoli need a lot more of the good bacteria to break them down so even if your gut flora is looking good you might still get a bit bloated (I still do if I eat cabbage).
- Eating too much white food.
And lastly, I promise (although I could go on and on) is processed food that is made up from components that have been extrapolated from whole foods. When food is processed the healthy vitamins, oils, and minerals are removed to prolong the shelf life of the products. For the food companies this is great, for us this is bad, as our body needs to use its reservoir of vitamins and minerals to digest the food (instead of the food bringing in its own good stuff). Moreover, the fibre from these foods has been removed meaning that constipation can occur and thus bloating.
Steps to take to prevent the bloat
As you have realised most of the bloating is because of indigestion. If you’re body has all the tools and is given optimal conditions to use those tools then food should smoothly digested without bothering you. In addition the tips that I will give you should also aid in fluctuation and constipation.
- Drink warm water the right way
Forget cold water for a while. Warm water is the key for easy digestion and thus less bloating. Drink a couple of glasses of warm (not hot) water first thing in the morning and then keep sipping it throughout the day (a hydrated body is key to overall health). Do not down a glass whenever you remember because it will just go straight past you and you’ll end up overworking your poor kidneys. A great indication if you’re drinking too much water too quickly is if you’re running to the toilet 10 min after drinking a large volume of water and you’re pee is nearly clear. The warm water helps food be digested quicker and the production of softer more poopable poop.
- Do not eat processed food
Course eat them but perhaps for a week cut them out and see how you feel. Moreover, you will, as I do too, eat them from time to time because they are delicious and lets not go on a restrictive diet but try to have them less frequently and in smaller quantities and you will notice how much better your digestion is.
- Eat fruit on its own
Eat the sweet good stuff alone and try to eat one type at a time and see how you feel if you tend to feel bloated after eating them. Moreover, red peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and courgettes are all fruit so keep in mind that they too can cause bloating if combined with other food. I can eat a mixture of fruit and I feel fine (I have sufficient enzymes and digestive juices to break them down) however I still like to stick to one at a time because I know that the body likes to deal with them separately.
- Eat your vegetables the right way
Eat more than you eat now. Most of the time the salad is the last thing you put on your plate and in restaurants its literally a joke how much the serve. Vegetables are key to de-bloating in the long term so make sure they are the most dominant thing on your plate. For example, I eat a bag of salad in one sitting at lunch or dinner 3-5 times a week. I suggest eating a bag a day (can do ½ a bag if you’re too put off by having the whole thing) for a week and see how you feel. You might feel bloated at first but give your body to use the good stuff you have given it and produce some bomb ass digestive tools.
- Eat fibre
More fibre equals more food for the healthy gut bacteria, the more healthy gut bacteria the less harmful bacteria, the less harmful bacteria the better digestion, and less weird gases are produced. Also, the more fibre the better and less painfully all your waste material is escorted out of your anus (your welcome for that vivid description). For example, if you really can’t stop eating white bread try sprinkling bran flakes in your porridge (bran is the shell of the grain removed that contains all the fibre).
- Do a cleanse- parasite and clay
No need to go cray cray and stop eating and do a juice cleanse (they are a waste of time and harmful in my opinion). However, parasites are a real thing and doing a little cleanse once every couple of months is a real advantage to your overall health. The one I have been doing this week has been the bentonite clay one and I have a blog post on it.
- Use the right salt
Chuck any sort of plain table salt away. Table salt is highly processed meaning all the minerals are removed, anti-clumping agents are added, and chemically made iodine is added because the natural one has been removed. Stick to pink Himalayan salt as it has a great balance of alkaline minerals that keep us hydrated and balance out our sodium-potassium ratio (these elements are involved in the ‘how much pee is our kidneys going to produce’ hence control water retention). It also helps create digestive enzymes and absorb vitamins and minerals from our food. And it doesn’t taste any different to table salt.
8. Increase your HCl
HCl is a chemical in your stomach that is very acidic and it is essential for digestion. A low amount can lead to not only bloating but a host of other problems around the body. A good way is to up your intake of fruit and veg. Moreover, to give your HCl an extra boost drink some apple cider vinegar. Recipe to drink below and make sure you don’t drink it alone as it will go straight through you!
-one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (make sure it says ‘with the mother’)
-one teaspoon of honey (this protects your digestive tract from the highly acidic apple cider)
-glass of warm water (not boiled)
-optional: a pinch of cinnamon
Drink mixture from a teaspoon (yes it’s a pain in the ass but you don’t have to do it every day. Do it every morning for a week once a month. Do not drink everyday as it can do damage, for example ulcerate your intestines and aggravate your digestive tract).
All this should lead to:
- better hydration
- an increase in vitamins, minerals and gastric juices
- better digestion
- increased bowel movement
- a decline of bad bacteria and parasites
- an increase in healthy bacteria
- more energy
Following these tips for a day might not make your bloat go away straight away but stick with these for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Curing any type of discomfort, disease, or illness takes time and if you’re looking for a quick fix then you will be on the search for it till you die. Long-term health requires long-term work. Ain’t nothing exciting or sexy about it but it’s the truth.