How to Battle Bloat + Improve Digestion
It is estimated that 15-30% of the US population experience bloating symptoms. Some bloating after eating can be a normal part of the digestive process, but for many, this bloating can be so severe that it impairs quality of life. Let’s review some of the ways to battle bloating and improve digestion.
Step 1: Check your Fiber
Fiber intake is essential to forming stool and facilitating bowel movements. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber comes mainly from chia and flax seeds, avocado, psyllium husk and beans. Insoluble fiber comes from vegetables and fruits. We want to ensure that there is a good balance of both and that one type of fiber does not drastically supersede the other. Aim for 8-10 cups total of fiber per day.
Step 2: Balance your Minerals
Minerals are essential to hydration and healthy digestion. Potassium and magnesium in particular are two minerals that can help relay signals from the brain to the digestive system. These signals tell the digestive system when to churn and and propel food so that it can be digested. Magnesium works to help relax the muscles of the digestive system and helps draw water into the stool, making it easier to pass. You can obtain more minerals through eating more foods grown from the earth and supplementing with a daily multivitamin.
Step 3: Assess your Bowel Movements
Start assessing your bowel movements. How often you are going and the consistency of them. The goal is 2 - 4 bowel movements per day, anything less is considered constipation. Additionally, these bowel movements should be log-like and solid. If you are noticing watery stools or small pellets, these are signs there are some digestive issues at play. Increase fiber, minerals, or water intake as needed.
Step 4: Support Enzymes and Stomach Acid Production
Digestive enzymes begin to be released the moment that you smell or taste food. During a meal, gastrin stimulates the stomach to release stomach acid to break down proteins and absorb nutrients. The problem is that many of us do not produce enough enzymes or stomach acid due to underlying gastrointestinal imbalances, poor diet, lifestyle factors and medication use. You can support the production of both by implementing a bitter food or digestive bitters before meals. Additionally, eating in a relaxed environment, chewing thoroughly and limiting water consumption during meals can also be helpful.
If you struggle with bloating and digestive issues, you are not alone! Start improving your digestion by implementing these four steps.