Bloating can be one of the most stubborn health symptoms to get rid of. And with summer just around the corner, the infamous food baby can kill your beach vibes and prevent you from enjoying life to the very fullest during the warmest months of the year (which isn’t to say that bloating isn’t dreadful all year round). Bloating can result from many different factors. And since it’s a common symptom shared by many different health conditions, such as food intolerances, estrogen dominance, leaky gut or gut dysbiosis, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why you’re bloated in the first place. However, there are a few simple solutions for bloating that can help promote a flat stomach by supporting your overall digestive function.
Here are 5 natural ways to promote a flatter tummy.
1. Practice Proper Food Combining
Food combining has been practiced for thousands of years and is gaining popularity in the natural health world for its ability to clear up digestive issues. Food combining follows the principles of only combining foods at meals that digest optimally together. For example, the simple sugars in fruit like to digest very rapidly, but when combined with a slow-digesting food such as a protein, the rate at which the sugar digests can cause an intestinal traffic jam (read: bloating and gas). Food combining is fairly simple to follow and can quickly resolve digestive issues that are related to poor food combinations. All of the “rules” of food combining can be found online, and there are plenty of books and health blogs that publish recipes based on food combining principles alone.
2. Replace Dairy With Nut Milk Alternatives
Hidden food intolerances are a common cause of bloating- especially when it comes to dairy. Even if you don’t think you’re sensitive to dairy (and you may not be), as humans, many of us stop producing a sufficient amount of the enzyme lactase past the stages of breastfeeding. Lactase is the enzyme that is needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. Without a sufficient supply of lactase to digest lactose, our bodies can have a hard time breaking it down, which can cause bloating. To promote a flatter tummy, try replacing dairy products with non-dairy alternatives made from nuts or grains. Unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk and rice milk are all great options. By removing dairy from your diet, you may also be able to discover if you have a hidden food intolerance based on how you feel without it.
3. Go Grain-Free
Grains can be another source of bloating for two reasons. Firstly, grains that contain a protein called gluten that can be hard for the body to digest. For this reason, gluten is a common culprit in bloating, regardless of whether you’re allergic to it or not (1). Secondly, grains contain a protective outer shell called phytic acid, which is also hard for the body to break down. To promote a flatter stomach, you may want to begin cutting out glutenous grains and replacing them with gluten-free grains such as brown rice or buckwheat. Another way to prevent bloating from grains is to soak them for 12 hours prior to cooking them to help break down the phytic acid. If bloating is a persistent problem for you, going grain free entirely could further help promote a flatter tummy.
4. Eat Probiotics for Smooth Digestion
One of the reasons chronic bloating occurs is because digestive function is compromised. And this is often due to a lack of probiotics (or friendly bacteria) in the digestive system. You see, we naturally have a balance of good and bad bacteria in our systems. But too often, bad bacteria can take the lead and outnumber the good bacteria in our intestines. This is caused by diets high in refined sugar and alcohol, low fiber diets, chronic stress and frequent antibiotic use. To help restore your gut health and reduce bloating, adding probiotics to your diet in the form of fermented foods or a probiotic supplement can be extremely helpful. The best-fermented foods to eat for gut health are unsweetened coconut yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. You can even take fermented herbs to support digestion such as Botanica’s fermented milk thistle. Taking a high quality probiotic supplement can also be helpful for a higher concentration of friendly gut bacteria.
5. Drink a Green Smoothie Each Morning
Since fresh fruit and veggies are highly concentrated in digestive enzymes and fiber, having a green smoothie each morning on an empty stomach can help improve your digestive function throughout the rest of the day. It’s also recommended to have a green smoothie on an empty stomach so that the nutrients are properly digested and absorbed without their digestion being interfered with by other foods. Green smoothies are an excellent source of fiber, which helps clear out the toxic sludge that can accumulate in our digestive systems from the foods we eat. Green smoothies are also easier to digest because the tough fiber in the fruit and vegetables essentially becomes “predigested” once blended. Foods such as green smoothies that are easy to digest are less likely to contribute to bloating. As you can see, there are many different solutions that can help reduce bloating and promote a flatter tummy. However, the best solution for you will depend on your body’s unique needs and your current state of health. For this reason, it’s always best to consult with a natural healthcare practitioner for personalized recommendations and before making any drastic changes to your diet or supplement regime.