4 min|Rhiannon Lockhart

How to re-balance your gut (and bloat less!)

Wellness, Nutrition, Health

We’ve all been there before: we ate or drank too much and need to undo that top button on our pants. But what happens when this bloating continues beyond a holiday dinner?

If you are constantly bloated, notice that meals cause you to feel sluggish, you become tired often after meals, or have digestive upset, it may mean your microbiome is off.

Note: if you are experiencing extreme bloat after each meal, chronic diarrhea or constipation, it can be helpful to speak with a doctor about some possible causes and protocols.

Here are 8 helpful ways to re-balance your gut (and bloat less):

1. Remove processed foods

Processed foods are often riddled with poor-quality oils, gluten and processed sugar, all of which can be disruptive to your gut. Current studies show that there is a likely a connection between imbalanced gut flora and processed foods, particularly due to the lack of fibre found in a diet rich in these foods.

2. Eat fibre-rich foods

Speaking of fibre, most North Americans don’t get enough. In Canada, it is recommended that women consume a minimum of 25g of fibre per day, and men consume at least 38g. On average, we consume about half of that.

Fibre is essential for regular bowel movements - remember you should be having at least one per day, and it should be shaped similarly to a banana. Bowel movements are essential for healthy detoxification.

3. Find out your triggers

If your stomach feels funny after a certain meal, and you just can’t track down what is causing it, it might be time to try testing.

Biomeridian testing, available at Integrative, can help to identify foods that you may be sensitive to, and help guide your meal choices.

re-balance gut bloat less

4. Include probiotic-rich foods or supplements

Probiotic-rich foods and supplements can be helpful to re-balance your gut microflora, and reduce overall bloating. Probiotic-rich foods include:

  • Saurkraut or kimchi
  • Yogurt and kefir (non-dairy too!)
  • Tempeh

If you’re taking a probiotic supplement and notice it’s actually doing more harm than good, it’s best to stop the probiotic and speak to a professional as there may be other digestive issues at play.

5. Drink more tea

Green and black teas are both high in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, which have been shown to help support the gut microbiota. Black tea in particular has been shown to support the microbiome and possibly reduce bloating (1, 2)

As well, there are a variety of herbal teas that have been shown to reduce bloating in the short-term, including:

  • Peppermint tea, which can relax your GI tract and support motility (3)
  • Ginger tea, particularly when you steep slices of whole ginger, which has been shown to promote gastric emptying (4)
  • Fennel, which has been widely used to support digestion. Simply crush up a tsp of fennel and steep (5)
  • Dandelion tea, which can help to detoxify the liver, removing excess hormones that can contribute to holding water weight

6. Remove refined sugar

Refined sugars can contribute to something referred to as “intestinal permeability” or “leaky gut”. This can result in an imbalanced gut microflora, overall inflammation and potential food sensitivities.

7. Don’t eat while distracted

Many of us will eat at our desks, while driving, watching TV, scrolling our phones, etc. However, eating in this way means we’re not focused on digesting. In many cases, we’re overstimulated, stressed, and distracted, which limits our ability to properly digest and utilize our food.

Try to eat without any distractions, or better yet, eat with colleagues or family. If this seems impossible, take a 5 minute walk before eating and after and take a few deep breaths to slow down your nervous system before you start to eat. Deep belly breathing can be helpful as it activates our vagus nerve. By doing so, we move into a “rest and digest” state.

8. Chew your food

Honestly, this is a common issue I see with a lot of clients and loved ones. Because we are so distracted while we eat, we take three bites and swallow without even thinking about what we put in our mouth.

Chewing our food stimulates digestive enzymes, particularly amylase in our mouth, which starts its breakdown. It also helps us to connect with our food notice our true hunger/fullness cues.

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