As a Certified Precision Nutrition Coach, the chief complaint I get from my female clients is about stomach bloating. Quick solutions like “flat tummy teas” sound enticing to bring immediate relief, but looking at bloating’s root cause – what we initially put into our bodies – can help us identify more long-lasting solutions.
It’s an issue that women experience on a regular basis because, according to Dr. Robynne Chutkan, author of The Microbiome Solution, a woman’s colon is 10 centimeters longer than a man’s colon and falls deeper down into the pelvis. Since the colon is competing for space, it wraps itself around other organs which causes pre-digested food to end up tangled, causing back-ups, blockages and bloating.
So in addition to a tea that may soothe your bloated stomach temporarily, what lifestyle factors might influence how you feel throughout the day?
Aside from cases of hormonal imbalance, like PCOS, or weak digestion, many cases of bloating are preventable or can be improved through diet. These tactics helped both my clients and me, and if you experience regular stomach bloat, they might help you out too.
Reduce your dairy intake
Pay attention to how your body reacts to dairy. If you feel bloated after having dairy, you might have to reduce your intake or remove dairy products completely. Try keeping a food log to help you track when you’re eating dairy and make notes when you start to feel bloated or sick. There may or may not be a link to which dairy products upset your stomach more than others. For example, I have a client who is very sensitive to whole milk but can eat cheese.
Stop chewing gum
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that chewing gum actually invites excess air into your system which can cause bloating and gas. If you deal with constant bloat, try not chewing gum and see how you feel.
Eat foods packed with potassium
Fruits and veggies that are loaded with potassium are great for reducing stomach bloat. They contain amino acids that flush excess liquid out of your system. Try including bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, spinach and coconut water to your diet. These foods are high in potassium (and pretty much sound like a great smoothie recipe already).
We know that our bodies carry bacteria in our system. We have both good and bad bacteria. Some bad bacteria can make us sick (like salmonella poisoning, for example) or simply create imbalances in our body (like digestive issues, including bloating). Having bad bacteria is inevitable, but whether you get sick or stay healthy comes down to how strong your immune system is.
This is where probiotics can help. When we take in healthy bacteria in the form of probiotics we can help promote the balance of good bacteria in our gut so we don’t get sick or feel bloated.
Sources of probiotics include fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Kombucha is another source, as is a dietary pill supplement. If you decide to take a probiotic pill or drink, make sure that the label has Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium, which have been shown to be beneficial for digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bloating, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Take digestive stimulating spices
Try adding these spices to your recipes: ginger, cumin, turmeric and black pepper. All of these spices are powerful anti-inflammatories and help soothe the stomach.
Don’t drink fizzy beverages
Not only are sodas bad for your health, the carbonation in these drinks causes unwanted bloating, according to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. If you are missing that fizzy feeling, try kombucha instead (and it’s loaded with probiotics too – win, win).
Don’t drink water with your meals
Believe it or not, drinking water while you eat is linked to bloating. Water dilutes the digestive enzymes in your system, so when you take a bite of your food, the diluted enzymes are not able to break down your food to be absorbed and digested by your cells. Your food then travels to your stomach where it just sits there and you may become bloated. Instead, try drinking your water 1-2 hours after you eat.
Try these tactics to let your gut feel its best – because when you follow your gut (health) everything is better.