Beat the bloat
Ah, bloating…when it comes to a girl feeling her best, bloating really knows how to ruin a good time. That time of the month, travelling and changes in air pressure, spicy food, one too many cocktails, a stressful week in the office, can all lead to some a very distended belly, painful pressure against your jeans and feeling as though you could pop like a balloon…
While our Instagram feeds aren’t short of a “2 minute – transformation” and bloating is a having a bit of a ‘moment’ right now, there really isn’t much sexy, enjoyable or at all comfortable about experiencing severe bloating on the reg.
The key thing here is while it is not uncommon to experience bloating and look like you are 7 months pregnant come bed-time, it is indicative that something isn’t functioning quite right in your digestive system and you perhaps need to address a few key areas to (hopefully) reduce this. That is not to say you should have a clearly defined, ab lined stomach at all times, but if you feel your belly blowing up, beyond feeling “full” and are in real discomfort and pain, that’s a sure signal from your body that something sinister is going down.
If you are dealing with regular, severe bloating the best thing to do? Seek help from a professional. I’ve gained all my insight from qualified practitioners who have assessed my symptoms and monitored these as they change and fluctuate depending on where I’m experiencing issues (higher in stomach or lower in digestive tract), the symptoms I’m currently facing, the time of year, where I am in the world and what sources I’m currently eating in my diet. It’s not one size fits all and unfortunately it’s a process of trial and error to find methods of coping.
That tends to be daily assessments and check-in’s and truthfully there are days when I’m beyond frustrated come evening that I can’t figure out what may have triggered it this time as it hurts to even stand up. As I’m not a qualified practicioner I can’t tell you what to do, but I’m passing on some of the things that work for my body in beating some of the bloat, in the hopes they may work for you too!
Always seek the advice of a registered, qualified practicioner before starting any treatments.
This has become my ultimate tool in my beat-the-bloat weaponry. A purely mineral (no additives) gel formula of silica, this was developed for the treatment of gastrointestinal illnesses associated with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, flatulence (sexy) and diarrhoea. I dissolve 1 tbsp in a glass of water, three times daily with meals. As you digest the gel it moves through the digestive tract, applying a coating which helps soothe and smoothe the passages and attracts pathogens (those bloat worthy criminals) and their toxins to bind in a purely physical manner which are then eliminated in a natural manner by the digestive tract. It is NOT a laxative (I would never endorse this) nor an anti-diarrhoea tablet, but simply aids in healing the digestive and intestinal tract .
BONUS: the silica helps your hair, skin and nails grow strong and healthy.
Forget just "you are what you eat". In reality, you are what you digest — and digestive enzymes are key to both better digestion and nutrient absorption. Digestive enzymes take the stress off the digestive system to break down difficult to digest proteins, starches and fats into their digestible states. When we eat food, our body needs to break these down into their nutrient pieces – proteins, fats, carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals – so that the body can absorb these vital nutrients. Whilst the body naturally produces the enzymes needed to make this process occur, sometimes we don’t have ENOUGH, so we can’t break down our food, which means even if we are eating well, we aren’t absorbing those good nutrients. Enter digestive enzyme supplements which provide that extra level needed to ensure you are able to actually gain the benefits from your balanced diet. These are a more recent addition for me, however I have noticed significant difference in my digestive and bloating patterns since implementing them into my 2 largest meal times.
Magnesium + Magnesium Cream
I’ve been obsessed with magnesium since I was around 12 and my mum hooked me on it to help with muscular cramps and aches I got in dance training. I’ve consistently taken it since then to help ease out my muscles and aid relaxation and sleep patterns, and if you’re not already taking magnesium, get onto it! Not only is it great to aid sleep- helping increase recovery and reducing stress levels, it also helps relax the smooth muscle tissues of the bowel aiding your “regularity” and softening your stools to ease things out. Sexy, I know.
However, a NEW addition for me is a highly concentrated magnesium cream, which I rub onto my belly (in a clockwise direction) in the evening. This concentrates the dose to where I really need it when I’m bloated and helps alleviate some of the pressure, as well as allows the magnesium to be absorbed through dermal absorportion into the bloodstream. This feels great as a topical treatment and to help relax and soothe your belly before bed time.
Take a look at your diet
Severe bloating is often a red-flag symptom highlighting an intolerance or sensitivity to a particular food or food group. If you find you consistently bloat after eating a certain food – and there are no other underlying issues – it may be worth seeking advice on testing for intolerances or sensitivities. For me that’s now being FODMAPs friendly/Gluten Free/Dairy moderate, but it was only through being guided by a Dietician through a FODMAPs elimination diet that I became aware of what was causing strong reactions in my body by way of IBS symptoms. Bloat-common culprits such as onion, garlic, eggplant, beans, chickpeas all had to go as they were simply fermenting in my tummy! Removing, or reducing, your intake of foods that trigger these reactions will not only help reduce the bloat, but could assist in long term health by reducing problems of a consistently flared up digestive system – which can cause further symptoms of broken sleep, acne and mood imbalances.
Slow down to eat
So now you’re eating the right things, but you’re powering through your avo on toast in 2 bites, whilst scrolling the gram and listening to the latest episode of your fave podcast. Slow down girl! Take the time to sit down, eat slowly and enjoy your meal, while most of all – chewing! Not only will this make you more mindful of what you’re eating and when you become full, but actually chewing will help bloating LOADS!
The link between the brain to the gut is powerful and primal. There is inherently a fight or flight reaction when faced with a less-than-ideal situation, whereby your stress levels skyrocket and alert signals go up. In full-on-survival mode, the body wants send blood and oxygen to where it is needed and away from where it is not necessary immediately, which means a less than ideal operation of the digestive system. Continued chronic stress can over time lead to IBS-like symptoms, including bloating, and can greatly reduce your general immunity and digestive capabilities. One solution? Take the time to implement meditation and breathing practices into your day. By slowing down the parasympathetic nervous system, you can counteract the cortisol levels rocketing around your body, lower stress, increase mindfulness and allow the body time to recover and balance out.
Put it into practice: Breathe into the space. When seated or lying down, place your hands gently over your belly. Scan your body and find where you feel tightness. Sending your focus here, imagine pockets of space around the area and direct your breath there, breathing slowly to allow a sense of expansion into the space and exhaling to gently ease tension.
The “right” amount of exercise
Your body is designed to move and exercising will help the digestive process along and aid in the removal process of toxins and pathogens that may be causing some of the bloating. But go too extreme to the other end of the scale and overtraining will build a chronic level of stress in the body (exercise = a stress which the body, whilst sophisticated, does not differentiate to emotional stress, therefore has the same reaction as though you have just been fired), which as noted above, can cause havoc to the digestive system. So, make sure you are moving in a way that you enjoy, consistently over the week, but check in and make sure you it’s not excessive or becoming a negative experience.
The answer to all ailments. But seriously, staying hydrated and topped up on the H20 is vital to help reduce and eliminate bloating as you are ensuring flushing out and maintaining optimal functioning of the digestive system.
Rest and sleep are part of the equation that need much more emphasis placed on them. Regulating sleeping patterns and ensuring you have enough quality rest time, enhances your body’s ability to recover and repair itself. Developing a regular sleeping routine will help regulate your circadian rhythms, lowering cortisol levels when they need to in the evening, whilst making sure yourself time to breathe and unwind which will have a positive knock on effect to reducing the bloat symptoms.
Do you have any more tricks that help with your bloating? Let me know in the comments below!