How to Reduce Bloating

How to Reduce Bloating

by Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian
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Feeling bloated? You’re not alone. That distended stretched out feeling is one of the most common digestive complaints.

Is it normal to feel bloated after you eat? That is a bit of a tricky question. No one feels particularly light and spry after a three-course meal or wine-fueled weekend. However, feeling uncomfortably bloated after you eat every single day, while common, is not within the realm of normal gut health.

 

What Causes Bloating After You Eat?

When our intestines produce too much gas, or that gas moves slowly throughout our digestive tract, we feel bloated.

Where does the gas come from? We can swallow that gas (like a glass of sparkling water) or produce it when the acidic contents of our stomach meet the alkaline secretions within our intestine.

We can also look to the trillions of microbes fermenting whatever they find in the gut.

The most surprising culprit? Stress. Think about it, when you are stressed, you’re in "fight or flight" mode. One of the biological actions of this state is to shuttle blood flow away from the digestive system to the brain and the limbs, so we can get away swiftly from whatever is stressing us out (not always useful with today's modern stressors).

For some people, food intolerances can make bloating more severe. The classic culprits are called FODMAPS: fermented oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides and polyols. More simply, FODMAPS are carbohydrates like lactose and fructose that can pass into the large intestine where bacteria readily ferment them. Eating FODMAPS can increase gas and make elimination troublesome in sensitive individuals. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, eliminating FODMAPS from your diet may bring significant relief.

For the rest of us, you may be surprised at how powerful small changes can be for your digestive health. Try these four simple steps to improve bloating after you eat to see if it brings you relief.

 

4 Ways To Banish Bloating After Eating

Just Breathe

That’s right…breathe. If you are stressed (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) deep breathing can help you de-stress and improve digestion.

One of my favourite techniques is called square breathing. Simply inhale for a count of four and hold it for four counts; then exhale for four and hold the exhale.

Do a few rounds of this whenever you feel stressed and before each meal. Over time, this technique will become a clear signal to the body that it’s time to eat.

 

Move Your Body

Your gut is a muscle; if you want it to move, you need to move! Sitting for extended periods of time can lead to increased bloating and/or bloated stomach because you are physically compressing the gut.

Try sitting up tall at your desk to relieve this. As a bonus, good posture can also help to strengthen your abdominal muscles (weak abdominal muscles can also cause the gut protrude).

Aim for one minute of standing stretches every hour at work. Toe touches, side bends, and gentle torso twists are great. At lunch or break time, try to get in even just a 15-minute walk. You'd be surprised what this daily habit can do for gut motility and relieving post-lunch gas! 

 

Fight "Bac"

If your diet has been on the indulgent side, it could be that your gut bacteria are out of balance. Fight "bac" and restore balance quickly with the beneficial bacteria found in Bio-K+; the 50 billion live and active cultures help to fight off more troublesome bacteria and ease symptoms of gas and bloating.

 

Stop The Constant Munching for Bloating Relief

Us humans weren't meant to eat constantly throughout the day. Our gut has a natural sweeping motion called peristalsis. It continues to work even when the absorption of our food has finished, which has a beneficial effect on both our gut bacteria and moving gas through our system.

When we are always snacking or munching, we don't give our digestive system the chance to finish its job. Also, the small amount of bacteria that live in the small intestine are more likely to overgrow with the constant supply of nutrients, having an impact on our digestive health.

Fixing this is all about getting reacquainted with your hunger cues. When you are hungry, eat, but resist the urge to nibble from dawn to dusk.

 

Your gut is a remarkable machine; while it’s true that it can fall out of balance when faced with modern life, it also responds beautifully to intentional care. Take small steps to foster better gut health, and you may find that you can reduce your daytime bloat and get back into sync with your gut.


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Desiree Nielsen
About the author
Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian
Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian, author and host of the vegetarian cooking sshow, The Urban Vegetarian. Desiree takes an evidence-based, integrative approach to her dietetics work, with a focus on anti-inflammatory, plant-centredcentered nutrition and digestive health.
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