Fed up of feeling bloated? Rob Thorp, Nutritionist and Founder of Vite Naturals provides some expert advice on how to beat bloating in just one week…
By Rob Thorp
Bloating is often reported as a ‘standard’ symptom that many have learnt to live with. There are several key offenders that can cause it to happen; from swallowing too much air when eating to sensitivities to certain foods.
Whilst it is normal to experience some level of bloating after a meal, it is a physical clue that your digestive system is not working quite as it should.
How to beat bloating fast
Want to reduce your bloating over the course of just one week? Here is a day-by-day guide of what you can do to beat the bloat and bring your digestive system back into balance:
Day 1: start a food diary to monitor bloating triggers
Keeping a food diary is a great first step to identifying trigger foods or ingredients. Simply jot down any flare ups you experience to see if you notice any patterns. Alternatively, consider an elimination diet. This is where you remove certain common ‘trigger’ foods (such as gluten and dairy) from your diet for two to three weeks. You then gradually reintroduce one food at a time whilst monitoring symptoms. Once you have successfully pinpointed which foods your body cannot tolerate well, you can remove them from your diet to prevent bloating.
Day 2: try a low FODMAP diet to beat bloating
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are short chained carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion and can cause bloating. Foods to avoid while on a low FODMAP diet include fruits, vegetables, legumes, gluten grains and dairy that contain fermentable sugars. Although the diet may seem restrictive it is important to remove all FODMAP foods for the first few weeks at least. Then, you can start to gradually reintroduce one food item at a time. FODMAP foods are highly nutritious and you should only eliminate them long term if symptoms return.
Day 3: boost your gut bacteria
Optimum health starts in the gut and stems from a well-balanced microbiome. The gut can impact everything from energy levels to sleep quality, as well as physical and mental performance. An imbalance of gut microflora can also lead to bloating, due to an overproduction of gas. One of the easiest ways to balance your gut microflora is to increase the beneficial bacteria in your diet. Supplementing with prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes is a great of giving your gut everything it needs to function optimally. Try the Vite Body range from Vite Naturals, which contains chicory foot fibre, a five-strain digestive enzyme and multi-strain, live probiotic complex, as well as calcium to ensure an efficient digestive process. Available in once-a-day capsules and delicious snack bars, the Vite Body range is ideal for those looking for a convenient and enjoyable way to get a good-bacteria boost on-the-go.
Day 4: stress less to beat bloating
You may have heard of the phrase the “gut-brain axis”. This is another way of explaining that the gut and brain are intrinsically linked. If you are stressed, your body will typically slow down the digestive process, as its priority is to divert blood away from the gut and into the muscles as part of the fight or flight response, rather than processing the meal you have just eaten. A great way to ensure you remain stress-free is by finding a relaxation technique, like meditation or deep breathing. Even something as simple as taking a hot bath or reading a book will not only do wonders for your mental health, but will also ensure the various systems in your body are working optimally.
Day 5: increase your fibre intake
Fibre is often portrayed as the enemy when it comes to bloating. However, it physically helps to move the food through your digestive system more efficiently. It also eliminates excess gas from the body. Without adequate fibre, your digestive system will become more sluggish, leaving you feeling bloated or constipated. Try to incorporate more fibre-rich foods into your diet, such as vegetables, fruits and wholegrains. If cruciferous vegetable such as broccoli and cauliflower cause you to bloat, try non-starchy vegetables instead, like carrots, celery, bok choy, and lettuce. It is also worth noting that vegetables become more tolerable when we peel and slow cook them (in soups or stews), as our body can break them down more easily. Stick to small quantities at a time to ensure you can digest food properly and avoid flare ups.
Day 6: don’t eat too late
When you are sleeping, the various systems in your body repair and rebuild, including your digestive system. Eating too near to bedtime means that your digestive system will need to use up a lot of energy to process your meal. This can cause your sleep to be disrupted. Over the long term, your digestive health will suffer, and you may find yourself more susceptible to bloating. Always try and eat regularly and aim to finish your last meal of the day at least three hours before bedtime. This will allow enough time for your digestive system to rest and recover overnight. Drinking plenty of fluids will also help to flush through toxins, encouraging bowel movements.
Day 7: cut back on sugar
Sugary foods can be addictive, as they give us a quick ‘fix’ that tempts us back. The bad news is bad gut bacteria thrive off sugar, and too much bad gut bacteria will further increase your sugar cravings. This can create an imbalance within your gut, stomach, intestines or colon. An imbalance prevents the microbiome from doing its job properly, leading to inflammation, digestive upset such as bloating, and even skin issues. Cutting back on sugary foods for a short time can rebalance your gut bacteria. It can also prevent sweet cravings from occurring in the future!