Abdominal bloating

Pure foods solution

Get rid of all refined sugars and potential food allergens

What is bloating?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the term abdominal bloating. It does not mean water retention or fat on the belly.  Bloating indicates a digestive problem and the symptoms are a distended, lower abdomen, griping and flatulence. It often occurs after eating, especially with certain foods, and might get progressively worse during the day. Flatulence, the major by-product of bloating is socially unacceptable! Attitudes might change but in the meantime it makes sense to address the reasons for bloating.

What are some of the causes of bloating?

  1. eating too fast
  2. eating standing up
  3. drinking with your meals
  4. stress
  5. eating foods that you are allergic or sensitive to
  6. poor food combining
  7. eating too much sugar or white flour products
  8. constipation
  9. wrong flora in the intestines commonly called dysbiosis

The list starts off almost casually and just keeps getting worse. It is by no means a complete list of all the known causes but should suffice for all but the most stubborn wind. The aim is to optimise digestion with a return to eating pure foods so that your food is not left undigested, fermenting and rotting in your bowels.


Eating too fast

Chewing your food mixes it with the digestive enzymes found in saliva. The idea is to start the whole process of digestion in the mouth, making the task of the stomach and intestines just that much easier.

Eating standing up

This could be expanded to eating without being aware that you are in fact eating. I am sure we are all familiar with this problem. Gobbling lunch while doing your emails and catching up with lunchtime TV news. The first time your poor stomach is aware that you are eating is when the food arrives unannounced in its lap! Smell your food. Look at it. This prepares your whole digestive tract for eating and it just does a better job. Sit down and relax, allowing all the blood that is normally in the arms and legs to settle back into the abdomen.

Drinking with your meals

Fluids dilute the digestive juices that your stomach and intestines are working so hard to produce in a concentrated form. Diluted digestive enzymes are just not as effective at breaking down foods as concentrated enzymes are and the food sits longer than it should and starts to ferment. Ferment = wind = bloating. Drink before or a while after meals if you really need to. It is interesting to note that pure foods like fresh vegetables contain more natural fluids and less salt than processed foods which means you will be a lot less thirsty during or after your meals.

Poor food combining

Most of us can cope with a plate full of different foods. Some of us, with stomachs weakened by a diet of poor quality foods can’t and need to simplify our meal combinations. The stomach deals with proteins and carbohydrates very differently. It produces acid to help break down proteins and an alkali to facilitate carbohydrate breakdown. This sounds great but acid and alkali neutralise each other leaving you with delayed digestion and bloating. It can help to separate your proteins and your carbs.

Examples of protein and carbohydrates

Proteins

Meat

Chicken

Turkey

Fish

Beans

Tofu

Carbs

Bread

Pasta

Cereals

White rice

Instead of a pure foods meal of a baked sweet potato (carb) and grilled fresh fish (protein) with raw salad at lunch consider separating them at your meal by having either:

Grilled fresh fish and salad + steamed organic vegetables

Or

Baked sweet potato and salad + baked vegetables

Using pure foods to beat bloating

Removing allergenic foods

The body and immune system treat allergenic foods in the same way as it would a virus or bacteria. The mucous membranes lining the digestive tract go on red alert, initiating an immune reaction and producing mucous to protect you from attack. This mucous, and other protective reactions, hinder the digestive process, slowing down digestion and creating fermentation and bloating.

The common food triggers for bloating are:

Wheat

White flour

sugar

cow’s dairy

alcohol

This is by no means a complete list – I have a client who is very allergic to  kiwi fruit. Removing the allergenic food can often bring about an instant change in bowel function. Eating a wide range of pure foods tends to reduce any obvious allergenic reactions to food, easing digestion and reducing bloating. Constant focus on one particular food type will increase your chances of developing a reaction to that particular food. If your nemesis is cow’s milk it might be an idea to rotate different dairy types in your diet. Consider trying goat’s and sheep’s dairy alongside cow’s. It is so worth the change if this calms down your intestines.

Sugar and white flour products

We have talked about fermentation in the digestive tract leading to bloating. Sugar and white flour promote fermentation in the same way as they do in the beer and champagne manufacturing processes. Fizzy champagne is the perfect example of sugar and yeast at work to create bubbles. The fact is that we consume far too much sugar, in all it’s varied disguises and we are all paying the price. Flatulence. A natural by-product of a return to simple, natural eating is a reduction in exposure to simple sugars.

Constipation

Anything that reduces the transit time of food through the bowels is likely to lead to gas. Food or stool that sits in the intestines ferments and can breed bacteria, funguses and moulds. The solution is to work hard to improve the situation by eating fibre rich pure foods like wholemeal rye pasta and fresh vegetables, drinking more water, massaging your lower abdomen and having the occasional colonic if the problem is really bad. Laxatives are not a solution. The digestive detox in chapter three is a great starting point and you will see positive changes to your bowels if you stick to the programme.

Stress

Stress puts us into the fight/flight response, ready to fight off the lion and save the day. Blood leaves the internal organs and makes its way to the arms and legs so we can run and fight. The digestive tract is left with a reduced blood supply and therefore a reduced ability to carry out the complex process of digestion. The transit time for food through the gut is increased and once again we get fermentation and indigestion. Pure foods like wholegrain millet and fresh eggs are rich in the B complex vitamins which help calm the nervous system and correct the damage caused by the stresses of modern life.

Probiotics

The hot topic at the moment in the world of bowels are the ‘good bacteria’, beneficial flora or probiotics. The bowel contains a multitude of organisms that help us to digest. Most of them are beneficial if kept at normal levels. The problem starts when one or more grows out of control and starts to impact negatively on digestion. A diet rich in simple sugars and low in fibre is the perfect breeding ground for the some of the less beneficial bowel flora. Taking a supplement that contains the good bacteria acidophilus and bifidus can help to keep their nasty cousins under control. The good bacteria are found in abundance in healthy fermented pure foods like plain yoghurt and kefir.

Supplements to beat abdominal bloating

  • Lactobacillus bifidus and acidophilus are the main ‘friendly’ bacteria in our bowels. These probiotics stabilise digestion and help in the manufacture of the B vitamins. Antibiotics and a poor diet destroy these little helpers. Regular consumption of live culture yoghurts and kefir help to maintain and restore the healthy bacteria in the bowels.
  • A great first aid technique for bloating is to use digestive enzyme capsules. These contain the enzymes necessary for the breakdown and digestion of the proteins, fats and carbohydrates in or diets. Digestive enzymes can reduce bloating significantly but it does pay to remember that they are not fixing the underlying problem of a weak digestive tract.
  • Two medicinal herbs are renowned for their calming effects on digestion. Peppermint and fennel act to reduce bloating and are a great after dinner tea.