Top Tips To Avoid Bloating This Summer
BBQ food, buckets of Pimms and ice cream – it’s official, the summer season is here! But what can we do if the joys of summer come with a side of uncomfortable bloating? Read on for my top tips to help avoid the dreaded bloat this summer!
TRY MINDFUL EATING
Mindful eating is the process of paying attention to your food, listening to your body and enjoying the practice of eating.
The initial phase of digestion is called the cephalic phase, which usually commences before we start to eat our food. This phase of digestion begins with the brain seeing, smelling and anticipating food. During this phase, the brain informs the stomach that it should prepare to receive food, by activating a number of digestive activities – salivation is activated and pancreatic enzymes and stomach acids are released.
When we are distracted (scrolling on our phones, working, watching TV) during meal times, we can miss this crucial stage of digestion, and be left with indigestion and bloating. To counteract this, pay attention to your meal times! Eat slowly, smell your food take time to notice the textures and enjoy the process of eating.
EAT BITTER FOODS BEFORE MEALS
Bitter foods help to stimulate the body’s digestion by encouraging digestive secretions in the stomach, which help to break down food more effectively, absorb more nutrients and help encourage the production of Gastrin. Gastrin is a hormone that helps to support digestion by controlling numerous digestive functions such as producing stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes and bile.
Try consuming the below bitter foods 15 minutes before a large meal to help kick start the digestive process:
- 1 shot of apple cider vinegar
- 1 handful of rocket or chicory
- ½ a lemon juice into a glass of water
CHOOSE YOUR BOOZE WISELY
Absolutely enjoy a good drink this summer, but making a few sensible choices might be the difference between feeling groggy and bloated the next day or light and upbeat!
Our gut doesn’t really like alcohol. The digestive system has to work overtime to eliminate it, and prioritises the elimination of alcohol over other nutrients such as fats, proteins and carbohydrates, which can lead to indigestion and bloating. Booze will further impact stomach acid production, which reduces the stomach’s ability to destroy the bacteria that enter the stomach. This increases the risk of harmful bacteria entering the upper small intestine.
When it comes to navigating alcohol, it might help to avoid alcohols that are high in FODMAPS. FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrate found in certain foods such as wheat, beans and some fruits and veggies. FODMAPs are resistant to digestion, and instead of them being absorbed by the bloodstream, they reach the far end of the intestine where your gut bacteria use these carbs for fuel. Hydrogen gas is produced, causing digestive symptoms in sensitive individuals such as diarrhoea, bloating and IBS-like symptoms.
Many feel that alcohol can exacerbate their IBS symptoms, but is it really necessary to restrict alcohol to manage your bloating? I have some good news and bad news when it comes to alcohol and FODMAPs.
There are a number of low FODMAP alcohol options to try out to avoid bloating this summer:
- 150ml serving of red or white wine
- 30ml serving of gin or vodka
- Stick to clear mixers such as soda or sparkling water. And be wary of tonic, as after a few G&T’s that sugar and carb content can creep up.
Allowing your digestive system to have a break of 12-14 hours can potentially prevent bloating by giving your digestive system time to do its job. During this time of not eating, your MMC (migrating motor complex) works to digest food, break down food particles and clear out the intestines.
Aim to finish eating 2-3 hours before bed so your body has time to digest your dinner before sleeping, and fast until the next morning when you have your breakfast.
Exercise may not be a magic cure for your bloat, but getting the body moving and blood pumping can help to alleviate some of the pain and potentially trapped gas. If an intense yoga class isn’t your thing, try out some gentle stretches to help relieve trapped wind and alleviate bloating such as a child’s pose, the wind relieving pose or a spinal twist. (find your guide to bloat relieving poses here)
Alternatively a long walk, pilates class or a dance class can all help to get things moving.
If you only have 5 minutes to feel better, try out some cat-cow stretches that can help with digestion and bloat by stretching and compressing your intestines to promote movement. Repeat 6 times for a total of 2 minutes.
Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water can help reduce your risk of bloating. Many of us are more dehydrated than we think, and this is exacerbated when summer comes around thanks to the increased temperatures.
Tea and coffee can count towards your daily water intake, but during the summer months, we shouldn’t rely on caffeinated beverages for our hydration needs.
If sparkling water is your h2O of choice, it may be worth thinking again. Sparkling water is infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure, this creates those fizzy bubbles.
These gas bubbles can get stuck in your belly, causing uncomfortable trapped gas and bloat in some individuals.
Aim for a minimum of two litres of still, filtered water a day, and spice it up with 1 tbsp of chia seeds, ½ the juice of fresh lemon and some blueberries for the ultimate summer thirst quencher.
AVOID COMMON FOOD TRIGGERS
Bloating can often flare up due to the consumption of certain foods, some of the main culprits when it comes to bloating can include…
- PULSES – Beans, chickpeas and lentils are all high in fibre, which can trigger bloating. This is thanks to the sugars found in pulses known as alpha-galactosides, a common FODMAP. These FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates which escape digestion and are fermented by our gut bacteria in the intestines, producing excess gas and bloating.
- FIZZY DRINKS – Contain high volumes of the gas carbon dioxide, which ends up in our digestive system when we slurp them down. Some of this gas can get trapped which can cause cramping and uncomfortable bloating. If you are prone to bad bloating, I also recommend sticking to still water over sparkling.
- CRUCIFEROUS VEG – These include cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts and broccoli, which are some of the most nutritious veggies available. However, they also contain raffinose, a sugar that remains undigested until your gut bacteria ferment it. This produces excess gas and can lead to bloating in some individuals. Aim to consume vegetables when they are thoroughly cooked as they are easier to digest this way.
- GARLIC & ONIONS – Although both these delicious flavour-filled veggies are often consumed in smaller quantities, they are one of the main dietary sources of fructans, which is a type of soluble fibre that can trigger digestive symptoms. Most people tolerate both cooked better than raw. Alternatively, try dried onion or garlic oil.
- SUGAR ALCOHOLS – Often used in sugar-free foods and chewing gum, the most common ones are xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol. The body struggles to digest most sugar alcohols, so they end up travelling to the large intestine, where our gut bacteria break them down. So, if you find yourself experiencing gas, bloating or loose bowel movements after consuming them, this may be the reason why. Consider using stevia or monk fruit instead.
- GET THINGS MOVING – Constipation is when you are not passing stools regularly or you find yourself unable to have a complete bowel movement which can result in bloating, excess gas and trapped wind. If you suspect constipation is the cause of your bloating then try out my top constipation hacks here.
- WORK WITH ME – If you want to get to the root cause of your bloating, it is always best to work with a professional. Book in for a free 15-minute discovery call here to chat through how the Clarissa Lenherr Nutrition team can help.