Dietary and Lifestyle Strategies to Reduce Bloating
There are a number of dietary and lifestyle strategies that can reduce bloating. Some of these will also help to address the underlying causes of bloating. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Avoid foods to which you are intolerant – this may include the usual suspects such as gluten, dairy, eggs and soy, but there may be others. Consider eliminating all potential problem foods and reintroducing them one at a time to identify which are the culprits.
- Eliminate fermentable foods – for some people fermentable carbohydrates called FODMAPs cause extreme bloating. Eating a low FODMAPs diet can help to address the underlying microbial imbalance. Other dietary strategies include the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, GAPS diet and SIBO diet. These diets are quite restrictive so should not be followed forever. Once symptoms have settled down foods can be reintroduced one at time whilst monitoring symptoms.
- Fermented foods – these have probiotic and prebiotic properties that can help to improve the balance of bacteria in the gut. However, those with SIBO or SIFO may not be able to tolerate them until the overgrowth of bacteria or yeast has been addressed. Examples of fermented foods include kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt and miso.
- Avoid drinking too much with meals – liquid dilutes the digestive juices, particularly stomach acid, which is needed to break down protein, release minerals from food and to kill pathogens.
- Avoid the fizz – carbonated drinks introduce gas into the intestines so are best avoided.
- Keep a food and symptom diary – this can help to identify trigger foods.
- Get tested – if bloating persists there are various tests that may help to identify the underlying causes. These include SIBO breath tests, digestive and stool analyses, Helicobacter Pylori tests, and food intolerance testing. It’s worth talking to a practitioner about which tests might be applicable to you.
- Slow down and chew – take time over your meals and chew well. The more you chew the easier digestion becomes further down in the gut. Chewing also stimulates the release of stomach acid and digestive enzymes.
- Breathing and Meditation – being relaxed before during and after eating is vital for healthy digestive function.
Take a few deep inhalations and full exhalations before you eat. Taking time to meditate at any time of day can help to return the nervous system to a parasympathetic state which is needed for digestion to take place.
See also posts on Causes of Bloating and Herbs and Supplements to Reduce Bloating.