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Gas and bloating…and the pain that’s often associated with it

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Many people suffer from gas and bloating after eating.  It can range from mild discomfort to extremely painful (and sometimes even embarrassing).  Gas and bloating are especially common in those with IBS and constipation.1  (Even weak abdominal muscles and excessive abdominal fat can contribute to this issue.1)  Of course this can also be an issue of food sensitivities, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), bowel obstructions or an out-of-balance microbiome, among others.  The cause of the symptoms matters most importantly.

Clients often ask, “what can I take to help with this?”  Before we talk about what to take, let’s go through some quick basics as a foundation to rule out a few easy causes.

  1. Chew your food until it’s liquid.  Your stomach doesn’t have teeth.  If you swallow large pieces of food, that’s what it has to contend with.
  2. Eat real food (primarily whole food plants).  The body can do amazing things and is constantly adapting for our benefit but … we really weren’t designed to eat Pop-Tarts (and other processed foods).  Better fuel yields better digestion and assimilation and therefore a better energy output.
  3. Increase fiber and water.  If you’re eating lots of whole foods, the fiber will be no problem.  Water is needed for nearly all metabolic processes including digestion and elimination.  Work up to drinking at least half of your weight in ounces.  Start as soon as you get out of bed with 24-32 ounces.
  4. Do your best to reduce stress before and while eating.  A few moments of deep breathing can help with this.
  5. Do what you can to figure out WHY you have gas and bloating.  Is it every time you eat anything?  Or only with certain foods?  Does it only happen at work?  Or in the evenings?  Is it stress-related?  Understanding the cause can be of great help in choosing the best solution.  If you can’t pinpoint it, get help before it gets worse!

A few general things that can help:

All that said, one functional food that can help would be ginger (Zingiber Officinalis).2

  • Dose: 1 gram of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water to make tea. (1 gram is roughly the size of a nickel)
  • Frequency of use: 3 times/day 
  • Form it’s best delivered in (for optimal absorption): Can be used dried, fresh, in tea, or in a tincture, but fresh and heated (in tea) is ideal.
  • Physiological effects on the condition: Ginger can help with gas specifically due to its carminative (anti-gas) properties in the volatile oils.

Another simple botanical that can help is peppermint (Mentha piperita)3

  • Dose- 1 tbsp of dried leaves per cup of hot water
  • Frequency of use: 3 times/day
  • Form it’s best delivered in (for optimal absorption): Infuse 1 tbsp dried leaves into hot water and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Physiological effects on the condition: This also acts as a carminative (anti-gas) by relaxing the esophageal sphincter and allowing air to pass.

Also, besides the fresh teas, there are 2 supplements that can have a profound impact:

  1. Digest: a plant-based digestive enzyme that helps break your food down so you can better get the nutrition from it.
  2. HCl (hydrochloric acid; aka stomach acid): For many people, low stomach acid is at the root of many of their digestive issues.  In this case, supplementing with 2-4 caps after each meal (with lots of water) can be helpful.

Proper digestion is paramount to optimal health.  Gas and bloating are signs that something is off with your digestion.  Don’t wait for it to get worse.  Give these things a try and if you don’t see some improvement within a week or so, please get help!

 

Resource list:

  1. Sullivan SN. Functional Abdominal Bloating with Distention. ISRN Gastroenterol. 2012. doi:10.5402/2012/721820
  2. Marciano M. The Naturopathic Herbalist. https://thenaturopathicherbalist.com/2015/09/10/zingiber-officinalis/. Accessed August 26, 2020.
  3. Henriette’s-Herb. https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/pereira/mentha-pipe.html. Accessed August 26, 2020.

 

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