It can be caused by weak digestion, lack of digestive juices, parasites, fungus, food intolerances, fluid retention, small intestine bacterial overgrowth and gas. It is also a common symptom of irritable bowel syndrome, which can be caused by stress, food intolerances, a poor diet and lack of nutrients.
To beat the bloat, it’s important to ensure the majority of your diet consists of whole foods, rather than processed. Eating the whole food ensures that your intake of the nutritional benefits is balanced.
Here are some common foods, herbs and spices to help you beat the bloat:
Bay leaf is a good digestive aid and helps relieve gas. Use to flavour soups and stews, remove before serving.
Beetroot is a great bowel cleanser, full of iron and vitamin C, which helps the absorption of iron.
Buckwheat is an alternative to wheat and gluten-containing grains, although it’s not a grain – it’s actually a fruit seed related to sorrel and rhubarb. Among its many health benefits, buckwheat is high in magnesium, which plays a big part in relaxing the bowel muscle, making it useful for both constipation and irritable bowel. Research has shown that about 90 per cent of people are deficient in magnesium, and stress causes magnesium to be excreted.
Caraway has a long traditional use for soothing stomach complaints. Try it in stews, curries, sweet dishes and pancakes.
Celery seed has been shown to help with fluid retention and gas / wind. It goes well with eggplant, fish, butter beans and peas.
Cloves are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, and help expel gas from the stomach and increase hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for digestion. Add to a curry or stewed fruits, or include in chai tea and cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.
Fennel seeds are warming, sweet, calm the stomach, reduce wind and stimulate digestion. Chew on a few seeds at the end of a meal or try as a tea.
Gelatine is excellent as a healing tool for the gut. It helps lubricate the intestines, provides valuable nutrients for the gut, and can help heal leaky gut. Go for nutrient-dense broths, such as bone broths, which are rich in gelatine.
Ginger is well-known for its beneficial effects on the gut; it is excellent at calming and soothing the gut and stopping spasms. Dried ginger is good for stomach pain.
Manuka honey has the highest therapeutic use and is useful for bowel inflammation and bacterial gut infections. Studies in India and Japan suggest that honey with cinnamon powder can relieve gas.
Peppermint has a calming, soothing effect on the gut, and helps get rid of gas and bloating. Combine with caraway and fennel for bloating and wind.
Turmeric or curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can help colic, wind pain, irritable bowel and other conditions. Use heat and oil to extract the active components of turmeric, for example cook vegetables in coconut oil and turmeric. It turns everything yellow, so use stainless steel or glass cookware and wear gloves, to prevent staining!
Water, taken warm or at room temperature, is more easily absorbed than when it’s cold. Drink between meals, as drinking during meals can dilute digestive juices.
Avoid fruit if you suffer from frequent bloating.