Written by Janette Mason, CNP
A bloated belly may seem like a trivial symptom to some, however if you are experiencing bloating every day, then you know the toll it can take on your self-confidence, energy levels, how you feel in your clothes and what activities you choose to take part in.
Abdominal bloating can be accompanied by excess gas production or disturbances in the movement of the muscles of the digestive system1. For some, abdominal bloating can be described as having a swollen, hard, or painful belly. Bloating is a common symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)2 and should not be swept under the rug.
The causes of a bloated belly have yet to be determined definitively by research, however we know that the health of your digestion as well as stress levels will play a part3. So, let’s take a deep breath (iiiiinnnnn and ooooooouuutttt) and dive into supporting your digestion with 3 simple steps!
Step 1: Remove
This is probably the most important step when looking at improving digestive health. In this step you will want to start taking a look at what you are eating regularly and see if you can make connections between foods that you are eating and when you are experiencing bloating2. A food journal helps a lot with this step. You can begin by simply recording your meals and then jotting down how you feel after you eat. “Many people have worse IBS symptoms when they eat or drink certain foods or beverages, including wheat, dairy products, citrus fruits, beans, cabbage, milk and carbonated drinks”2.
Step 2: Add
Once you have removed potential irritants to your digestive system, now is the time to bring in some extra support.
#1 on our list would be PRObiotic and PREbiotics. You can find probiotics in foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha. Prebiotics are found in foods such as onions, leeks, radishes, carrots and (green) bananas9. For many Canadians, getting enough probiotics and prebiotics in their diet is tough. This is why functional supplements can be an excellent addition to your gut-health arsenal.
#2 is to give your body some extra support with digestive enzymes5. Your body naturally produces digestive enzymes to help break down your food. However, sometimes the body does not produce enough enzymes, which can slow the digestive process and cause digestive problems like gas and bloating. “For example, if you don't make enough of the enzyme lactase, you'll have a hard time digesting lactose — the sugar in milk and milk-based products. "If you don't have lactase, the undigested lactose goes to the colon, which leads to more fluid entering the colon and more gas produced by bacteria in the colon. That creates bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea," explains Dr. Staller”7.
A simple way to support gut health is to supplement with digestive enzymes. We like plant-sourced enzymes that include a wide range of enzymes to digest lots of different foods. Digest Well is a great option. You can take the enzyme supplement before each meal.
Step 3: Nourish
When speaking about gut-health it is important we touch on bone broth as it is one of the most recommended foods for your gut! As a protein source, bone broth provides a full spectrum of amino acids that act as the building blocks of various tissues in the body including your gut. One amino acid that is found in bone broth is glutamine. Glutamine has been studied for its benefits on the body, in particular surrounding gut health8.
Although not everyone has the time and patience to make bone broth every week, there are alternatives available. One such alternative is powdered bone broth. This functional food provides similar benefits to liquid bone broth but is much easier to take daily. You can simply add a scoop of powdered bone broth to a mug of hot water and enjoy. Other ways to include this nourishing food is to add it to soups, stir-fry’s, pastas, or even chili.
You should always ensure proper sourcing for your bone broth powder and look for organic whenever possible. Organic Bone Broth is a great, daily, solution, it tastes especially good mixed into a soup!
So, there you have it, 3 simple steps to help you feel better in your body and reduce the bloat! Remember, working on your gut health takes time and patience. Start implementing these steps today and wait to see how good you feel!
- Argawal, Review article: abdominal bloating and distension in functional gastrointestinal disorders – epidemiology and exploration of possible mechanisms, 11 October 2007, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2007.03549.x
- Mayo Clinic. Iritiable Bowel Syndrome, Accessed Date: August 6that https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016
- Sullivan, N. Functional Abdominal Bloating with Distention. April 2012, https://doi.org/10.5402/2012/721820
- Saulnier, D. et al. Mechanisms of probiosis and prebiosis: considerations for enhanced functional foods, Current Opinion in Biotechnology Volume 20, Issue 2, April 2009, Pages 135-141. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0958166909000032
- Roxas, Mario. The Role of Enzyme Supplementation in Digestive Disorders. Alternative Medicine Review . Dec2008, Vol. 13 Issue 4, p307-314. 8p.
- Gianluca, I. et. Al. Digestive Enzyme Supplementation in Gastrointestinal Diseases. Current Drug Metabolism, Volume 17, Number 2, 2016, pp. 187-193(7) https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/cdm/2016/00000017/00000002/art00011#Refs
- Harvard Health Letter. Gut reaction: A limited role for digestive enzyme supplements. Updated: January 29, 2020, Published: March, 2018. Accessed: August 6th at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/gut-reaction-a-limited-role-for-digestive-enzyme-supplements
- Achamrah N, Déchelotte P, Coëffier M. Glutamine and the regulation of intestinal permeability: from bench to bedside. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2017;20(1):86-91. doi:10.1097/MCO.0000000000000339
- Prebiotic Diet. Monash University. Accessed Date: August 14th https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/prebiotic/faq#6