Do you ever wake up and feel like you’re carrying around a balloon in your belly? Just me?
It seems like the older I get the more bloated I get. It’s not a fun feeling, so I decided to do some research. Turns out the bloating? All my fault.
Bloating is usually the result of not being able to properly digest foods. These not-so-digested foods end up just sitting around causing discomfort and a general feeling of being stuffed and bloated.
Now, digestion issues can happen at any age, but if they seem to be more frequent as you age, it may very well be because of your stomach’s reduced ability to produce enough stomach acid for proper digestion.
Wait, what? You read that right. As we age (gracefully, of course), our stomach’s ability to produce stomach acid ages too.
When we eat there are cells in our stomach that are supposed to release acid. This process is super important because it’s where your body begins breaking down foods and activating enzymes.
As we age (yes, I said we. I’m getting old, too), this process becomes less efficient. And we end up bloated and uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, this lack of proper digestion has long-ranging effects, which eventually results in bloating. Not fun. But, there’s good news. With just a few simple changes you can get rid of stomach bloat. Seriously.
Increase Your Fiber Intake
Sometimes our bodies become sensitive to the fiber found in certain fruits or veggies. If this is the culprit of your bloat, you’ll notice that you get a rumbly tummy when you eat them or experience bloating not long after as your body works to digest.
To help this, make sure that you’re fully chewing your vegetables (count to 30 while you chew slowly), and avoid eating lots of raw vegetables. You may need to gently steam your veggies to help your body along.
If a specific fruit or veggie seems to be consistently causing you to bloat, you can simply eliminate the culprit for a few weeks and see if your bloating decreases. If it does, try slowly reintroducing the offending food to see if it was related.
Too Much Meat
I know, I know. I love meat, too. But decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme known as pepsin.
Pepsin’s job is to break down protein…and if you aren’t producing enough then the protein that you eat isn’t getting fully broken down the way it should be.
This means that the proteins you eat pass through your system somewhat “undigested”.
Consider reducing the amount of animal-based protein you eat by observing a meatless day (or two) during the week and see how you feel.
Sometimes your digestive system just slows down. If things seem to be a bit stagnant, just hanging around in there a lot longer than you’d like, you may be suffering from slow digestion.
Ginger has long been championed for its digestive properties and has even been found to reduce nausea. I’ve also used peppermint essential oil to help my tummy move things along.
I love making this simple Ginger Tea when my stomach begins to feel sluggish:
- Fresh ginger root (about 2”)
- Hot water
- Lemon slices
Pour the water into a saucepan and heat it on the stove. As the water comes to a boil, grate the fresh ginger root into the saucepan. Let it come to a boil, and then simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Strain your tea into a cup using a fine mesh strainer then add lemon and honey to taste.
If you don’t want to use a grater and strainer, just peel the ginger and thinly slice it into your cup before adding boiling water. The pieces should be big enough that they will sink to the bottom.
Unfriendly Gut Bacteria
If your body isn’t digesting properly in the stomach and small intestine, then you’re putting extra stress on the large intestine.
Your large intestine is home to all of your wonderful gut microbes. These are good bacteria. The problem occurs when undigested food enters the large intestine where some not-so-great microbes live. These unfriendly bacteria produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism.
The more of these unfriendly, gas-producing microbes you have in your system, the more gas and bloating you’ll experience.
Once way to help with this is by eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system, and (happy side effect) keep the bad guys at bay.
Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi are all awesome choices. You want to look for products that are unpasteurized and contain live cultures.
I also suggest taking a probiotic supplement.
If you suffer from reduced stomach acid, then you also have a reduction in your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them). In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food, they need to be activated.
Consider trying an enzyme supplement while you make some adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to help heal your gut.
If you find that you’re bloating way more than you used to, consider trying the tips found here. Make a small change (pick just one) and see how you feel.
Once you figure out what works for you, keep at it! You’ll likely have to do at least a couple of these things to get your stomach back to normal.
And remember, a healthy lifestyle is key to a healthy gut.
Do you experience stomach bloat?