It’s that time of year again!
The sun is shining brighter than ever and we’re stepping into bikini season. However, this time, post world pandemic and quarantine!
As if the desire for a flat tummy wasn’t a big deal before, for many of us women, it’s even more of a concern since our eating and exercise routines have looked a little different over the past few months.
“I need bloating relief... now!”
“There has to be an ultimate cure for bloating, right?!”
“How about a little all-natural bloating relief?!”
Bloating relief is the goal for many of us this summer, and that’s great! BUT, first, we must understand the why behind bloating to eradicate this annoying symptom for good.
Let’s be honest, it's a little easier to feel a strong sense of self-love when our body runs optimally. Prioritizing gut health is one of the very best ways to get the body humming, so that’s what we will be focusing on today.
Bloating relief, here we come!
The human immune system is incredibly complex and unique. I like to compare it to a fingerprint. Mine will look quite different from yours. Consequently, the reason your best friend experiences bloating and stomach issues might be a little different than why you experience similar symptoms, but the root of it all is actually quite similar.
Let’s walk through the Cliffs Notes version of gut health…
When we’re born, (assuming all goes well) our gut and gastrointestinal lining are strong and intact. As crazy as it sounds, the colonization of the bacteria in our gut actually starts in utero and much of mom’s bacteria gets passed on to us. Taking it one step further, a vaginal birth (more good bacteria) vs. C-Section birth (less good bacteria) also plays a big role in that colonization. Additionally, breastfeeding can be very powerful when it comes to building the gut microbiome from the start.
Fast forward and life takes a toll. Many of us begin to rely on processed food for convenience. We may experience childhood illnesses or even chronic acne where high dose antibiotics are used. We may also experience stress or take other medications that alter the trillions of bacteria in our gut.
Now suddenly, a once “happy home” consisting of trillions of bacteria that cohabitate peacefully in the gut has been significantly altered. When our gut bacteria work together, food is digested properly, vitamins are made and absorbed, our immune system is strong and inflammation is kept at bay. When our gut bacteria is out of whack, the ecosystem is no longer happy and now we begin to experience pain, bloating, fatigue, food sensitivities, diarrhea, constipation, and the list goes on…
I love studying patterns in my female clients. Women coming to me aged 18-25 tend to experience more low-grade bloat, food sensitivities and anxiety. My clients 25-40 are a little more focused on weight management, fatigue, a noticeable shift in mood, more extreme gut issues such as chronic pain, constipation or diarrhea. Women 40+ and beyond are often at the stage of chronic inflammation. They’re noticing more food intolerances than ever before, they may even have a diagnosis of an autoimmune issue or two. At the very least, their chronic gut issues have now manifested into more aggravating symptoms such as joint pain or memory loss.
I bet you can guess what’s coming next… Working to rebalance our beautiful ecosystem of gut bacteria is the best way to experience bloating relief, in addition to relief from every other symptom or condition mentioned.
The bottom line: If we don’t properly address gut health in our youth, our overall health will gradually decline as we age. There’s just no way around it.
Here are 3 Pro Tips to Fight Bloat and Rebalance Your Gut Today:
Incorporate Various Forms of Probiotics
It can be very helpful to start incorporating a daily probiotic supplement in addition to probiotic-rich foods. Good Girl Probiotics is an excellent choice because it contains multiple strains of bacteria.
Be sure to take your probiotic with a balanced meal, rich in prebiotics. This allows you to make the most of your probiotics because probiotics use prebiotics as fuel in order to grow and colonize in the gut. Popular prebiotic foods include bananas, onions, garlic, oats and apples.
Keep a Bloat Diary
If you sense that you feel poorly after eating certain foods, keep a food journal and take extensive notes. Which foods make you feel the worst? How soon do the symptoms set in? What exactly does that look like? Be your own detective and you may find that this tool alone can get rid of your bloat.
At the very least, this will serve as an incredibly helpful tool for your dietitian. If a client comes to me on our first visit with a 4-week food and symptom journal already complete, I can often help them take action immediately vs. working through another 2-3 sessions to finally pin information down.
Make Magic in the Toilet Daily
This concept has been a source of contention between the functional vs. conventional medicine fields for many years. However, I believe and know from extensive clinical experience, that humans should have 1-2 bowel movements daily. Period. Having a daily bowel movement helps with everything from bloat, to detoxification, cholesterol removal and beyond. If you’re not having 1-2 large, well-formed bowel movements daily, you may find that your bloat never really goes away and it might be an uphill battle in the arena of weight loss.
How can you fight this?
- Stay hydrated at all times.
- Consider talking to your doctor or dietitian about supplementation with magnesium citrate.
- Actively choose foods that provide bloating relief. This means focusing more on foods high in soluble fiber such as beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, oats and chia seeds. Other natural de-bloaters include ginger, peppermint tea, cucumber, pineapple and papaya.
- Remove the symptom provoking foods from your food journal for at least 2 weeks.
- Sleep at least 7 hours a night. It’s unbelievable what a consistent good night’s sleep can do for digestion, hormone regulation and metabolism. Sometimes, this is the missing piece for many women.
- Stay active. Move your body, every. single. day!
And there we have it, how to maximize your gut health in a nutshell. Alright, now let’s de-bloat and have our best summer yet!
Registered dietitian specializing in functional nutrition