If you suffer from bloating, you are not alone. Bloating, in most people, points to an underlying imbalance in your digestive tract that is easy to fix with a few changes in your diet and lifestyle.
What Causes Bloating?
Bloating is caused by excess gas that comes from the microorganisms that inhabit our digestive tract. Collectively, these microorganisms in the digestive tract are called the gut flora. The gut flora protect us from harmful microorganisms and help us digest food. It is sometimes this digesting of food that produces gas and bloating. When our body’s own process fails to completely digest a food, the gut flora eats the food components we didn’t digest and in turn it produces gas. When they produce too much gas, it causes bloating. Our busy lifestyles can also be part of the problem: rushing around, grabbing whatever quick food we can find, and washing it down with a soda is a recipe for digestive gas and bloating.
Your Three-Step Solution to Bloating
- Avoid Providing Fuel for Gut Flora:
- If you cannot digest certain foods (such as milk, beans, etc.), then you should avoid or limit them.
- Avoid simple sugars whenever possible. One of the reasons soda is known to produce gas is that your body cannot digest that much sugar at one time (the CO2 doesn’t help either). The same is true for many other sugary treats.
- Beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, and high-fiber foods are all hard to digest for some people.
- Optimize Your Digestion:
- Our digestive powers tend to lessen as we grow older. Supplementing with a good digestive enzyme can help fully digest foods—leaving less for the gut flora. Digestive enzymes can also help with those difficult-to-digest foods (beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, high-fiber foods).
- Eating food slowly and choosing whole foods can improve digestion.
- Optimize Your Gut Flora:
- A good probiotic, along with eating fermented foods (such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha), can help to establish healthy gut flora. While this might seem a bit backwards (it is the bacteria that cause the gas), good bacteria produce less of the irritating gas.
A Few Other Ideas:
- Fiber is an essential part of good gut health. Try to get 25-30 grams a day of a good fiber. Fiber, though, can cause gas if you are not used to it. Add fiber to your diet gradually to let your body adjust to it.
- Stress, lack of sleep, and hormonal changes can also make food difficult to digest sometimes.
- Certain artificial sweeteners are known to cause gas, so watch out for these also.
- Exercise is your digestive friend. Regular exercise will help with the occasional sluggish digestion and reduce bloating.
Occasionally, gas and bloating are a sign of a serious health condition. If you follow the above plan but still have problems, then you should seek medical advice. Reducing gas and bloating is about taking care of your whole digestive tract and supporting your overall health.
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