5 Foods To Help Fight Belly Bloat (#2 will surprise you!)
Written by: Regina Pellegrino
Our digestive system is very complex and when trouble stirs, the outcome can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Yes, I’m talking about the not so fun bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea. Unfortunately, these symptoms are very common for many people nowadays and can be very debilitating for chronic sufferers, not knowing when or if they’ll have a flare.
As someone who’s been diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), I have become far too familiar with these unpleasant surprises. Luckily, I have developed an emergency kit to have on hand whenever a bout arises to put both my tummy and mind at ease. The best part about these “must haves” is that most of you probably have many of these foods already hanging out in your kitchen!
Check out these 5 belly bloat savers and give them a go yourself! They’ve definitely helped me and I am confident they can help you too!
1. Bananas – Athletes rave about these for sustained energy and many of us love the convenience of this potassium-rich snack when we’re on the go. Another great characteristic of this super fruit is it’s a great reliever of diarrhea. Bananas are high in pectin, containing a soluble fiber, which is very soothing to the digestive tract. The soluble fiber absorbs the excess water in the colon, creating a gel type consistency, pushing impacted fecal matter, as well as stabilizing and regulating intestinal contractions (cramps and gas). This fruit also consists of fructose containing carbohydrates, which metabolize friendly bacteria, aiding in a healthy, happy gut!
How to use it: Bananas are probably my absolute favorite fruit and as much I enjoy them topped with a creamy nut butter, I would stick to eating them plain on days when your stomach is stressed out.
2. Brown Rice – With the whole “low carb craze”, rice seems to get a bit of a bad rap. However, nutritionally, this grain hits the lotto being loaded with B vitamins and iron, serving as a complete protein and being very easy to digest (for most). Like bananas, rice also contains the powerful soluble fiber. Similarly, the fiber creates a gel-filled colon; this time allowing the GI (gastrointestinal) muscles to gently stretch around it, preventing rapid transit times associated with diarrhea. On the flip side, those having a hard time eliminating wastes also benefit from this grip around the colon, allowing for an easier and faster transit time, as well as pushing and softening impacted fecal matter. Adios belly bulge!
How to use it: Brown rice is so multi-faceted; it can be used so many different ways as a base for many creative dishes. Again though, when you’re dealing with an upset stomach, less is more. Plain brown rice is your best bet, but if you need a little more flavor, add some low sodium chicken or vegetable broth. If you’re dealing with autoimmunity, be aware of how grains in general make you feel. For many AI sufferers, grains can pose a problem (just remember, we are all unique!).
3. Ginger – This soothing herb has become a staple in my kitchen. Not only does it add great flavor to foods and teas, but it also acts as a gentle lubricant, aiding in healthy digestion. Think of ginger as your own personal masseuse for your digestive system, rolling out those unpleasant bacterial strains. When your tummy is tense, ginger acts as a muscle relaxant to help relieve gas trapped in your stomach. By relaxing the GI muscles during digestion, ginger allows for a smooth, gentle passage of food.
How to use it: Add a few strips of fresh ginger to hot water before or during meals. It’s also a great ingredient to add to many dishes (especially ones that may sometimes be troublesome) to help with digestion, as well as kicking up the spice a notch!
4. Peppermint Tea – I cannot even begin to tell you how much this has been a savior during my many IBS battles. On really bad days, this is my go-to and it never fails to relieve my stomach distress, as well as put my mind at ease. Similar to ginger, peppermint tea also contains a muscle relaxant. The methanol contained in the peppermint tea not only relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract, but also helps relax the mind. Lets face it, when you’re dealing with stomach upset, it can be stressful, especially if you’re out and about trying to enjoy yourself. Peppermint tea is great for calming your nerves and your tummy, all at the same time!
How to use it: Peppermint tea can really be consumed anytime, but it’s extremely beneficial before meals and before bed to help you relax. Simply heat up a cup of hot water, add a peppermint tea bag and let it steep for a 10 minutes or so.
5. Hot Water – It doesn’t get more basic than this. Consuming water is essential for good health, but there is something special about water when it’s heated up. Hot water helps decompose foods, moving them smoothly through the intestine, versus cold water, which can harden the oil found in food, possibly leaving fat deposits in the inner wall of our intestine, slowing digestion. Stick with warm/hot water as much as you can to help improve digestion and prevent evil belly bloat, especially during and after meals.
How to use it: Hot water with a slice of lemon is a great way to start your morning by flushing out toxins and revving up your metabolism. Aside from consuming hot water, using it as a heating lubricant on the surface of your skin can be very beneficial as well. You can purchase a hot water bottle at a local drugstore, or simply use a hot washcloth and place it on your stomach. This will help relieve cramps and bloating by bringing more energy and blood circulation to the digestive system.
Now you’re prepared to kiss those belly blues good-bye and say hello to freedom! Remember, you ARE in control of your own body and you DO deserve to feel your absolute best! Don’t look at these symptoms as challenges, but rather experiences, helping you grow and discover your unique pathway to good health.
Regina Pellegrino started her journey with health when first being diagnosed with IBS in 2004.After many failed attempts to find answers through countless doctor visits, Regina took her health into her own hands and began healing herself through proper diet and exercise. Through her own personal journey, her passion for leading a healthy lifestyle ignited her desire to learn more about fighting chronic illnesses naturally.
Regina is a Certified Health Coach through The Institution of Integrative Nutrition, as well as a certified Fitness Specialist through San Diego Mesa College. She is currently a student at San Francisco State University, studying Dietetics. Regina hopes that by sharing her personal journey, she can shine light and give hope to others looking to overcome their own health battles, with a positive mindset and awareness of the unique needs of each individual body.
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