What causes it?
While excluding the more emergent or complicated causes of bloating, the uncomfortable abdominal distention is most commonly attributed to two overarching concerns: digestive dysfunction and/or hormonal dysregulation.
Digestive Dysfunction: if your bloating happens following meals, or if you wake with a flat stomach in the morning, but carry a 3 month food baby by bedtime, it could be related to your digestion.
Hormonal Dysregulation: if your bloating is present even upon waking, has no correlation to food, or has a cyclical pattern with menstrual flow, it could be your hormones.
What can I do about it?
1. Castor oil packs - saturate an old face-cloth with castor oil and apply directly to the lower abdomen with a heating pack for ~30 mins for temporary relief of bloating. Careful not to do this during menses, as castor oil has a very stimulating effect, and will make flow heavier.
2. Lemon water - lemons are a natural diuretic and gentle laxative, and hydration is essential to stop bloating (since dehydration causes your body to hold onto water). Have some lemon water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to spark digestion, detoxification, and reduce salt retention in the body.
3. Watch WHAT you eat - dairy, wheats, carbonated beverages, beans, and sugars/sweeteners have all been associated with increased bloating. Dairy and wheat can be pro-inflammatory to the gut, carbonated beverages increase gas buildup, beans contain and undigestable sugar which gut bacteria love to ferment, and sugar feeds those unwanted gut bacteria.
Things like bitters before meals and peppermint tea following meals work well for bloating surrounding eating.
3. Watch HOW you eat - chew your food thoroughly and don't eat on the run, Ditch the chewing gum, and skip the drinking straws. All these habits cause you to swallow air into the digestive tract, and is a common source of temporary bloating.
5. A good probiotic - rebalancing the gut bacteria can be essential to eliminating bloating for good. High amounts of the probiotic strains L. acidophilus & L. caseii have been shown to help relieve bloating symptoms. However, the wrong probiotics can actually make symptoms worse, and should be introduced following antimicrobial treatment for those suffering from SIBO. Talk to your Naturopath to see if probiotics are right for you.
Yours in health and wellness,