I see patients complaining of abdominal discomfort quite often. While seeing a health care professional for abdominal pain is ALWAYS a good idea, when you're feeling bloated in general, there are a few simple tips you can try at home first.
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Stress causes major issues within our physical body. Stress manifests itself differently in each of us and I'm sure many of us can relate to some of the gut-associated side-effects of stress - a sore tummy, nausea, not wanting to eat or overeating.
Chronic cortisol exposure can also reduce our gut flora diversity, further leading to chronic gut issues over time. The best thing that can be done? Address HOW you deal with stress. Stress is always going to be there - it's impossible to think we can live completely stress-free. The trick is to build up skills within yourself on how you cope with stress. It's all about adapting instead of reacting.
How can you cope with stress? I've conveniently created a stress management workbook that will soon be available for a small price on my website. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for its launch date! I created the workbook to help you implement realistic coping techniques into your daily life. From nutritional changes to various forms of exercise and key mindfulness techniques, I've got you covered for all your stress management needs.
If you'd like to be the first to know when the workbook will be available, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I'll put you on the list and let you know as soon as it's available for download.
Choose the Right Supplements
While ultimately your health care provider should be prescribing supplements based on your presenting case, I wanted to give you an idea of what to expect. Treating gut dysfunction and belly bloat doesn't have to be difficult, you just have to know the right tools to use. And sometimes, the basics like dietary and lifestyle changes just aren't enough. They're important and vital, but not enough.
I usually recommend three products for patients suffering from uncomfortable belly bloat:
Not all digestive enzymes are made the same and there are some particular products available through professional lines that I prefer to prescribe for belly bloat. When addressing the gut, we need to consider all aspects of it - the stomach, liver, gallbladder and pancreas, the small intestine and the large intestine. Digestive enzymes help support the upper gastrointestinal organs, the first place where food starts to break down.
Our understanding of probiotics has drastically changed, even over the past couple years. We now know that it's not just about supplementing with any probiotic, it's about the specific genus, species and subspecies of the probiotic. Each individual probiotic strain exhibits different effects on the body and it's important you start using the right strain for your symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory medical food
Decreasing inflammation in the system can help tremendously for bloat. That, coupled with a few key gut-healing substances can fix the problem for good. I have a specific anti-inflammatory medical food that I use on the regular for gut issues and have noticed a major difference in myself as well as with patients using it. Using medical foods is also a great way to implement a clinically monitored fast, which can further help give the gut a break and begin the healing process.
There are two key dietary changes that I have found to provide the most benefit for reducing bloat.
FODMAPS is an acronym for a list of constituents that are naturally occurring in foods. Unfortunately most of these foods are those that we deem healthy for us, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, garlic and onions to name a few. It's important that you work with a qualified health care provider in figuring out which FODMAP foods cause you the most discomfort. I never recommend people attempt this on their own as it can become rather restrictive if alternate options are discussed.
Here is an excellent list of FODMAP foods you can check out: FODMAP Food List
Reducing foods that are more likely to cause inflammation in the system can help heal the gut lining and reduce bloat. Foods such as gluten, grains, dairy and soy should be avoided for a period of time to give the body a bit of a break. It's not that these food are necessarily "bad", it's that as a society, we tend to over-consume these products which can lead to a few health consequences over time. While I do not believe having gluten on occasion is a bad thing, many people consume a standard North American diet, which is FULL of gluten-containing products.
Stick to whole, unprocessed foods and limit the inflammatory offenders listed above for a couple weeks. Diets such as the Whole30 or the Paleo diet are great options to explore and perhaps implement 80% of the time in the long run. And like everything I've mentioned here, any major dietary changes should always be discussed with a health care provider to make sure you're not causing more harm than good.
There's Hope for your Bloated Belly!
I've suffered from a lot of gut issues in the past and this is what has helped me out the most. It's a first-hand tried-and-true about what works when it comes to an uncomfortable, bloated belly. I was always so embarrassed by how bloated I always was - my stomach always looks disproportionately larger than the rest of my body and it made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. Having a bloated belly isn't just about the physical discomfort, it's also about the mental/emotional turmoil it can cause. All the more reason to make the right choices and fix it rather than suffer unnecessarily.