If you’re approaching the summer season in your area, then lucky you! Warm weather, longer daylight, an abundance of light and fresh foods…what a wonderful time of year. But with the often dreaded, bathing suit season just around the corner, now’s a great time to address bloat. Bloating is common, uncomfortable and can have many culprits beyond what you’re eating. Let’s take a look at how to prevent or remedy bloat and kiss your bloat goodbye.
1. Fight IBS
IBS can equal bloat. Bloating & Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can go hand in hand. Sometimes this is due to constipation related effects of the condition while other times it has to do with fermentable sugars or other common components in the diet. Read more about IBS and how to prevent or reduce severity of its expression or symptoms.
2. Make Your Microbiome Happy
Your Microbiome is all the rage. It’s essentially all of the bacteria living inside us that play an important role in our overall health and wellness. We are just scratching the surface of understanding how to keep our microbiome healthy and its role in disease prevention or treatment. The US National Institutes of Health has launched the Human Microbiome Project to better understand our bugs and their role in keeping us well.
Probiotics may help foster a healthy microbiome and immune system. Certain foods like kombucha, Greek yogurt or seaweed offer food sources of these beneficial bacteria, but supplements may also be of benefit for some. Read more on the power of probiotics here and how they can help prevent bloat.
3. Skip the Sugar
Sugar isn’t so sweet for bloat. We know that excess sugar isn’t healthy and may even be linked to cancer risk. But certain types of sugars, known as FODMAPs may be especially bothersome for those with IBS, bloat or other GI issues. FODMAP diet was originally designed by Australian researchers and has been shown to help as many as 75% of IBS sufferers reduce their symptoms of bloat and other related side effects. FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols.
- Fermentable foods produce gas.
- Oligosaccharides like fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides are chains of carbohydrate molecules,
- Disaccharides include lactose,
- Polyols include artificial sweetners like sugar-alcohols, sorbitol and mannitol that often produce crampy, digestive-upset related side effects.
To find out which foods are Low FODMAP and desirable for IBS or bloat sufferers, and which are High FODMAP to limit or avoid, read Kate Scarlata, RD’s blog here.
Looking for some Low FODMAP Reboot juices? These are some of my favorites!
- Mint Julep Low Sugar Lime Juice (cut down on celery amount to ¼-1/2 stalk and increase cucumber or replace celery with celery root/celeriac)
- Kickin’ Cucumber Melon Juice (hot pepper optional)
- Surprisingly Not Too Sweet Cucumber Melon Juice (cut down on celery amount to ¼-1/2 stalk and increase cucumber or replace celery with celery root/celeriac)
- No Fruit, No Problem Juice
4. Consider Cutting Out Gluten
Going gluten-free is a big aspect of the FODMAP diet and anti-bloat eating patterns and lactose-free or dairy-free may offer additional benefits. Not everyone with bloat is allergic to gluten, but may be more sensitive to this protein found in wheat and other grains. Read more about gluten sensitivities here. There are so many wonderful gluten-free recipes like baked goods, pizza and breakfast cereals made with naturally GF grains like quinoa, teff and more.
5. Stop Sucking in All That Air
Introducing air into your digestive system is a sure-fire way to spark bloat symptoms for many people. Here are things to avoid and try to prevent unwanted air and bloating.
- Eat slowly. We know this tried and true strategy may help prevent overeating and improve digestion and absorption, but it’s also paramount for anyone suffering from bloat. Eating quickly can cause you to essentially suck in air while eating. The same is true for talking or “slurping” while eating, a habit your mom surely reprimanded you about relentlessly as a kid. Talking while chewing isn’t just poor manners or etiquette, it may contribute to bloat.
- Avoid using a straw. While we love drinking deliciously healthy smoothies through a straw, sip slowly and for bloat sufferers, consider forgoing the straw in your juice or smoothie cup. Unwanted air can be ingested or beverages may be consumed too quickly when using a straw.
- Avoid carbonated beverages. Of course soda is off your reboot-friendly list, but sparkling water or any form of carbonation, added sugars aside, may contribute to bloating. Stir out bubbles or choose simply flat water. Add lemon for a flavor and nutritional boost.
6. Move More Often
Other strategies for helping reduce bloat include movement, such as:
- Gentle movement is generally best, like yoga, walking, tai chi.
- Laying on your left side can also help, letting gravity help move air or food through your intestinal tract.
- Stress management , relaxation, sleep and even laughter can be a big help for bloat.
Building your anti-bloat wellness plan can make a big difference in allowing you to enjoy the summer season, or any time of year!