De-bloating. That’s the technical term. Not really! But it’s what we’re talking about today, cuz it’s a thing and it ain’t no fun.
There is basically one reason for bloat, but it has several deviations which feel the same in your gut, but need different treatment. We need to figure out what the reason for bloating is so we can use the best options to treat it.
So let’s start there: bloat is generally caused by excess gas in the stomach and intestines. But where and how that gas gets there is different.
Option One: Bloat From Swallowing Air
I am never quite sure how one ‘swallows air’ but I would guess it happens if you’re not taking your time eating. To deal with this type of gas and bloating, you will need to watch how you eat. Do you chew food thoroughly or are you a ‘three chews and a swallow’ person?
Try chewing your food until it is the consistency of apple sauce (which will aid digestion as well), swallow with as little air in your mouth as possible, and try not to drink liquid just before swallowing.
Option Two: Not Enough Gut Bacteria
It is true that the microscopic organisms in your gut do make a difference as to whether you feel bloated or not. If you do not have adequate gut flora (intestinal microorganisms), you will have gas and bloating because the foods cannot be digested properly- which produces gas.
You can reduce this kind of bloating by taking a pro-biotic. Pro-biotics are sort of a ‘you get what you pay for’ item- cheaper is not the same as mid-grade. You can also improve your gut flora by eating a variety of foods (which helps develop the enzymes you need to break it down properly). And, yes, your yogurt (or fermented food) will help.
Option Three: Food Intolerances
This option is very close to Option Two. This type of bloating happens because you have become intolerant of (or even allergic) to certain foods over time. This often means you no longer have the microorganisms or enzymes to properly digest the food and produce gas as part of the inadequate digestion process.
This cannot always be fixed with pro-biotics. In this case, you may want to try digestive enzymes, which help replace the enzymes you’ve lost. (Enzymes are tricky- read up before you try anything.) You may also want to avoid any food you are concerned about for 3-4 days and see if your bloating goes away. If bloating returns when you start eating the food again, you have your likely culprit.
Hormones and Bloating
You’re probably wondering, ‘well why do I get so bloated during PMS, then?’ Many women get bloated during PMS because of how the hormones change the function of their digestive tract. For a lot of us, digestion slows to some extent during PMS and into the first part of your period and that can produce excess gas. (It’s different for every woman, of course!)
One way to help alleviate bloating during your cycle is to eat more complex carbs. Complex carbohydrates increase the fiber in your digestive tract- and fiber helps move things along and also cleans out the intestines a bit. Fruits, vegetables, and higher-fiber crackers/bread/pasta can increase fiber. You may also want to stay away from foods that don’t agree with you and be sure to take your pro-biotic and chew your food well!
Complex carbs, fiber, more fruits and veg, are also proven to help reduce PMS symptoms, stabilize mood, and help keep us from snacking. Of course, there are people for who bread, pasta, and similar carbs create bloating- simply stay away from what you know doesn’t work.
Bloating is uncomfortable; nobody likes dealing with it. But if you see which of these options seems most reasonable for you, and give yourself a good 4-7 days to experiment, you should be able to find the cause and try out a few fixes.