BEAT THE BLOAT Part 2:
De-Bloating with Nutrition
Welcome back! In Beat the Bloat Part 1, we talked about all of those sneaky reasons why you might be experiencing some inconvenient gas & bloating. Hopefully, you’ve started to figure out what the root cause might be for you!
I know I left you hanging about what you can do to prevent or reduce the problem. So, in this second part of the series we will dive into all the things you can do and avoid doing within your diet to beat the bloat! Without further or due, I present to you…
HOW TO DE-BLOAT WITH NUTRITION
What you eat plays a huge role in how much your belly bloats! First thing to do is minimize that list of foods that we’ve identified as dietary causes for bloating – go back and check out part 1 for that list, if you missed it!
However, it’s not all about the foods to avoid, it’s also about the ones to include! Let’s look at some factors of your diet that can keep your tummy looking tight and feeling right all summer long.
To keep things running smoothly, it is important to be sure you are consuming lots of fiber!
There are two types of dietary fiber – insoluble and soluble.
Both types of fiber contain different benefits.
Insoluble fiber can be found in the outer coat of vegetables and whole grains. This type of fiber acts like a bulky “inner broom”, sweeping out debris from the intestine and creating more motility and movement.
Soluble fiber attracts water and swells, creating a gel-like mass. The soluble fiber in foods like oats, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables acts to slow digestion. In addition to slowing the release of glucose from food into the blood, soluble fiber also traps toxins and other undesirables in the gut, helping to carry them to excretion, while also providing food for healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.
Ideally, we want to be getting 25-35 grams of fiber per day. This is easy to do when you’re eat plenty of whole foods, including veggies, fruits, nuts & seeds and some whole grains and legumes.
Getting these “good bacteria” in your diet can be a key factor in reducing gas and bloating. Probiotics are friendly little bugs in your digestive tract that combat the bad bugs that can be responsible for digestive issues and reactions.
You can get your probiotics from fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh and kombucha! If you’ve determined there is a serious imbalance, you may need to talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about supplementation.
WATER-RICH FRUIT & VEG
Veggies and fruits that provide water, key electrolytes and beneficial enzymes are perfect for beating that bloat naturally. These will keep you hydrated and provide fiber, electrolytes and enzymes that will have digestion on point!
I recommend eating more raw or lightly cooked leafy greens, cucumber, celery, fennel, artichoke, pineapple and berries.
I will caution against having melon with other foods. Although they are high in water and can help reduce bloating if eaten away from other foods, when combined other foods, they can actually be a culprit of gas and bloating. Melon is very quickly broken down in the stomach. So when it is eaten with other food, that doesn’t digest as quickly, it becomes trapped in the stomach, waiting for that other food to hurry up and break down enough so that they can move out of the stomach. While it waits, it can’t help but break down further and start to ferment. That fermentation in the stomach is going to create gas and cause bloating. If this happens while food is still in the stomach, before entering the intestines, this can also cause acid reflux. A good rule of thumb for consuming melon: Enjoy 30 minutes before other foods or 2 hours after.
HERBS, SPICES AND TEAS
Digestive herbs like ginger, dandelion, peppermint, chamomile, aloe vera and fennel have been used for thousands of years to sooth an aching stomach. Some herbs act as diuretics, like fennel, helping the body to release extra fluids. Other herbs, like ginger, can actually promote the release of stomach content and tones the muscles in the digestive tract, which reduces constipation.
- Try eating fresh ground herbs like parsley, oregano and rosemary with your meals.
- Incorporate fresh peeled ginger root into dips, dressings, soups smoothies and teas.
- Throw some aloe juice into water, juice or smoothies.
- Sip on herbal teas throughout the day, they can be iced in the summer!
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits, including providing minerals and alkalizing the body. It also, however, can be your best party trick for preventing bloating. Anytime you know you’re going to be having a bigger meal or eating something you’re aware doesn’t always agree with you, shoot back an ounce of apple cider vinegar. You can do it straight (feel the burn!) or mix it with water to just get it back.
Consuming a little bit of apple cider vinegar before a meal will help to stimulate your digestive juices to ensure that you are breaking down your food as effectively as possible. It will speed the digestion of food in your stomach so that there is no chance for fermentation, which leads to bloating and acid reflux.
We touched on this when we talked about melon being a big bloater when eaten alongside other foods. Although melon is the #1 culprit of this phenomenon, the same effect has been seen in some people when combine any fruit with other types of foods.
Melon has been seen to cause the quick fermentation, gas and bloating even when combined with other fruit. However, most fruits can be eaten together. It is only when fruit is combined with another food group like protein or starch that it can cause the same issue.
The concept of food combining can go further for some people. The combination of protein with starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, grains, bread, or beans can cause digestive issues in many. Protein with fats & oils can also cause bloating.
Your digestive system does best with the combination of proteins and non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, tomatoes, zucchini and asparagus. Mildly starchy vegetables such as beets, carrots, cauliflower and corn tend to be ok as well.
Best rules of thumb if you are having trouble reducing bloating: keep fruit separate and only consume animal proteins with non-starchy vegetables.
WHAT IF I’M NOT WILLING TO CHANGE MY DIET?
Well, you’re likely to run into some issues down the road, but there are a few other lifestyle things you can do to get that bloating down. We’ll talk all about that in Part 3 of Beat The Bloat: The Anti-Bloating Lifestyle. I’ll reveal a whole whack of anti-bloating recipes with Part 3 as well so stay tuned!
In the meantime, here is one more anti-bloat recipe you can start to incorporate into your diet right away!
Drink this when you’re relaxing by the pool to keep that bloating in check. It is gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar free with a specific focus on anti-bloating ingredients such as banana and coconut water, which are high in potassium. Potassium helps to regulate sodium levels, which prevents water retention.
Cucumbers contribute those electrolytes and water content to help with digestion and ginger adds an anti-inflammatory, digestive tonic. This recipe also includes an option to add our anti-bloating superstar, apple cider vinegar, if you’re willing to deal with the slightly acidic taste of it.
MAKES: 1 SMOOTHIE
½ cup coconut water
1 large cucumber, sliced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 handful of ice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until super smooth.
Sip slowly and enjoy a bloat-free tummy!