Bloating is the worst! And one of the most common digestive issues that I see in practice. It affects all genders, all ages and all lifestyles. It can be uncomfortable, embarrassing and ruin an evening, or even a whole day.
Different types of bloating
Upper abdomen. This type of bloating is felt high in the abdomen, often up near the rib cage. That’s where your stomach is, and that organ is at the root of this type of bloating. When you don’t have enough, or good quality stomach acid, food may sit in the stomach longer than it should. This can lead to a build up of gases and may be associated with belching or heart burn. It often occurs shortly after eating.
Lower abdomen. This type of bloating is felt below the belly button, and is often an issue with the balance of good and bad bacteria in your small and/or large intestine. It can be associated with cramping, pain and passing gas (both of the smelly and non-smelly varieties). Like above, it’s cause by a build up of gas, this time produced by the bugs in your gut. It can occur immediately, or a few hours after eating.
Feel bloated all over? It’s not uncommon for both parts of the digestive system to be out of balance.
But why am I bloated in the first place?
There are a whole bunch of reasons that people get bloated. From the mechanical—not chewing well, drinking carbonated liquids, to food sensitivities and chronic dysbiosis. Another common cause for bloating is not having the right type of nervous system engaged. When we are running around, busy, stressed or anxious, our sympathetic nervous (fight or flight) system is in control. Unfortunately, it’s the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) that is in charge of digestion. And like a see-saw, when one is up, the other is down.
Certain foods are common triggers of bloating—beans, lentils, brown rice, and the Brassica vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. But you know what? In a health digestive system, these foods shouldn’t cause a problem. Rather than giving them up forever—because they’ve all got awesome health benefits—let’s identify what’s out of balance.
Here are a few tricks-of-the-trade to manage simple bloating:
- Don’t drink liquids at meal time. Your stomach has gastric acid in it, to break down food. If you drink a lot at meal time, this waters the acid down and makes it harder to digest food. It’s okay to take small sips of liquid while eating, but keep the bulk of your hydration between meals.
- Get ready to eat. When you’re busy and on the go, and then all of a sudden you just… start eating—that’s a shock to the system. Take a few minutes before meals and try this breathing exercise: inhale for a count of 4 and then exhale slowly for a count of 8. Repeat 10 times. This helps flip your nervous system to parasympathetic.
- Slow down. Chew. Put your fork down between bites.
- Try apple cider vinegar before meals. 1 tsp of organic apple cider vinegar (unfiltered or “with mother”) in 1/4 cup of water. Drink this 10 minutes before eating. It helps get the process started.
- Increase foods high in natural probiotics. Plain yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha and pickles. These can help support the good bacteria in your gut. However, if you find that these foods make bloating worse—that can point to an overgrowth of the bad bacteria, either in your small or large intestine. This is something that I can help you figure out.
- Identify food sensitivities – this is also something that I can help you with.
- If none of the above are addressing the issue, see your naturopath. We are the digestion experts!
Want to address bloating but don’t know where to start? Book an appointment now.