Published August 31, 2023 While bloating is a universal experience, that doesn’t mean it has to be the norm for you. It’s certainly possible to pinpoint the trigger of your bloating, especially if it’s something you’ve been dealing with for some time. Even if you do know your triggers, life happens and sometimes it totally blindsides you. It can even go as far as causing you to cancel your plans or having to dip out early because of the sheer discomfort. We want you to enjoy the foods you love, as well as the foods that love you back, with the people you love without having to think about bloat! REASONS YOU MIGHT BE BLOATED: Eating too fast – Most of us are guilty of this, whether we realize it or not. First off, when we wolf down our food, we end up swallowing a ton of air. These trapped air bubbles in our gastrointestinal tract cause gas and bloating which can be extremely painful, like borderline concerning – iykyk. Additionally, when we eat too quickly our brains are unable to keep up, bypassing our bodies’ satiety signals. Technically it takes about 20 minutes for us to realize that we are full, and, let’s be honest, when was the last time you took that long to eat a meal? Lastly, when we’re breezing through a meal we likely aren’t chewing our food properly. Experts recommend that we should be chewing each bite around 32 times. If you’re noticing that you’re having to really work to swallow (maybe you need water after most bites) or you’re swallowing big amounts of food, you probably need to chew more! Pro tip – try putting your fork down every few bites to give yourself time to chew. The key takeaways here are: try to be fully present when eating (this one is HARD), chew each bite more than you think you need to, and slowww down. SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) – If you are struggling with SIBO, chances are you’re really over feeling bloated all of the time. This is because overgrown bacteria in your small intestine feed off of undigested food, mostly carbs, which creates hydrogen gas. That gas then feeds archaea (single-celled organisms), which are known for producing loads of methane. The result of this excess of hydrogen and methane gas in your small intestine is belly bloat and other uncomfortable GI symptoms. Food sensitivities or intolerances – Although this one seems like a no-brainer, it really is worth looking into if you feel like you’re bloated constantly. After all, bloating is one of the top symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances. Being intolerant to a food simply means that your digestive system isn’t able to process it, leading to undigested food sitting in the colon and, therefore, gas and bloating. Two of the biggies here are gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance but corn, soy, and FODMAPS (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) are also pretty common.Stress – Let’s be honest, what isn’t caused by stress? The two-way gut brain-axis has been heavily studied at this point and explains why the state of our gut impacts our mood as well as why our emotions directly affect our gut. In the latter case, a stressor (even something as innocuous as a text!) stimulates our sympathetic nervous system, sending us into a fight or flight response. We know this all too well – the quickened pulse, the surge of hormones (like cortisol and adrenaline), the hyperventilation, and, of course, the nervous stomach. Our body prioritizes survival and presses pause on anything non-essential in the moment, reducing the flow of blood and resources to the digestive system. So if we proceed to eat in this fight or flight state we may experience bloating, gas, cramping and sometimes constipation or diarrhea. Constipation – When you aren’t pooping, you’re going to be bloated. It’s as simple as that! First off, the extra waste physically taking up space in your colon is going to make you feel weighed down and generally distended. Second, the longer it sits in your colon, the more time bacteria and archaea have to ferment the undigested food which causes lots of bloating and gas. Feeling backed up plus feeling bloated and gassy? Ouch. OUR TOP TIPS FOR DEALING WITH BLOAT: Eat cooked foods – Raw vegetables, and even some fruits, can be hard on our digestive systems. For instance, we love cruciferous veg for their countless benefits but they are notorious for producing gas and bloat. One thing we can do to enjoy more broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts is to simply cook them! Cooking breaks down the raffinose, an oligosaccharide that humans don’t have the enzyme to digest, mitigating any potential bloating. More generally, cooking is incredibly supportive to our digestive systems as it does a lot of the heavy lifting by softening food, like cellulose fiber, and essentially pre-digesting. Start your morning off with a warm bevvy – People are beginning to roll their eyes at the whole lemon-water-before-breakfast-routine. But there’s a reason it’s been praised by celebrities for decades! A hot drink in the morning widens blood vessels, allowing increased blood flow to your digestive system. The warmth also relaxes the smooth muscle of your digestive tract which can help support healthy elimination. In TCM, the stomach is thought of as the “cooking pot” which we must maintain a consistent fire under. Drinking cold drinks, especially in the morning, puts out this fire and requires us to use additional energy to heat it back up and digest our food throughout the day. The Guardian is a TCM-approved warming tea blend that stokes our internal fire! Take digestive bitters – This simple hack can truly change your life if you struggle with poor digestion. Bitters are made by distilling bitter tasting herbs (gentian, dandelion, burdock, wormwood, etc) and they get to work as soon as they touch your tongue! Your taste receptors tell your brain to activate your vagus nerve, which then signals your digestive system to produce bile, stomach acid and saliva. These secretions allow us to digest our food more effectively, reducing the likelihood of gas, cramping and bloating.Ginger – Ginger is a go-to herb for many digestion ailments including but not limited to bloating, nausea, and indigestion. Ginger contains compounds that have been shown to stimulate digestive enzymes to help break down food more efficiently. Ginger also has carminative properties meaning it can help reduce the build-up of gas in the GI tract. It may also work to help relax the muscles of the intestines and allow trapped gas to pass more easily, reducing the feeling of bloating. Simply put, ginger is your BFF when it comes to bloat and you can either take it in supplement form or sip on ginger throughout the day, especially before meals. Supplement with a probiotic – As we mentioned earlier, often bloating stems from an imbalance of microbiota in your gut. Adding probiotics into your daily routine helps to crowd out the bad bugs and increase microbial diversity as a whole which in turn boosts our digestive abilities. Although it is important to note here that if you suspect you have SIBO or you start taking a probiotic and your GI symptoms get worse, you’ll definitely want to opt for a spore-based probiotic. Lucky for you, we have a formula coming down the pipeline that contains SIBO-safe probiotics as well as targeted enzymes and herbal digestive aids. Stay tuned!