Samantha Greene of Collective Evolution writes:
Bloating is the single most common digestive complaint afflicting people today, with millions around the world suffering from it, yet it is also one of the least understood. We try to do all the right things — avoid common allergens and inflammatory foods like gluten, sugar, and dairy, limit processed foods, exercise regularly — and yet still find ourselves with uncomfortably swollen abdomens after virtually every meal.
It has certainly plagued my life for as long as I can remember, and I worry about it constantly. It’s stressful, it’s embarrassing, and it often leaves me feeling utterly defeated. I also worry about it constantly which, of course, only exacerbates the issue. I have tried everything to rid myself of this seeming curse, but unless I’m depriving myself and eating like a bird, very little seems to help.
Fortunately, gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan has taken some of the guesswork out of this unwelcome visitor by compiling the most common bloating culprits into her latest book, The Bloat Cure. “I wanted to create a guide for women to be their own medical detectives,” says Dr. Chutkan. “Bloating is absolutely is the number one thing I see in my practice. It’s sort of that common, non-specific way for the GI tract to let you know it’s unhappy.”
“To a layperson, our digestive tract can feel like this empty tube, but people don’t appreciate how specialized it is,” she continues. “There are so many different things happening in different parts, and so many things that can go wrong.” This complexity is what makes identifying and treating the root cause of bloating so difficult.
So if you’ve taken care of the diet piece and are still struggling with bloating, the following list of 8 common mistakes may help you banish this digestive demon for good.
1. Distracted Eating
The Problem: Do you scroll through your Instagram feed while eating? Reply to work emails, text your friends, or read the news? Then you are among a growing population of people for whom multitasking has become an essential, habitual part of life. As our lives get busier and our attention spans shorter, we begin to treat every moment as an opportunity to be entertained, productive, or both. Eating lunch while sitting at our desks and continuing to work has become standard practice in many offices, and sit-down family dinners, where people connect with one another and reestablish bonds over a leisurely meal, have almost disappeared entirely.
The loss of this important social ritual has obvious implications for our psychological well-being, but its impact on our digestion, while less immediately apparent, is no less profound. According to Dr. Chutkan, aerophagia — aka swallowing air — is becoming more common as we become less mindful of the process of eating. “A lot of people with aerophagia feel like they have acid reflux, but they’ve been on drugs for months and aren’t any better,” she says. “There’s often a waxing and waning to it; they don’t necessarily start the day feeling full.” Essentially, the faster we eat, the more air we gulp down, and the more bloated and gassy we feel.
The Solution: Eat slowly and mindfully, paying attention to the taste and texture of every bite. This not only prevents the ingestion of excessive air, but also inhibits overeating. The more we pay attention to what we’re eating and the more slowly we eat it, the more time the brain has to receive the “I’m full” message from the gut and the less food we consume overall.
You should also sit down for your meals rather than eating while standing or on the go, and take several deep, calming breaths before beginning your meal to allow your autonomic nervous system to leave the “fight or flight” state and enter its “rest and digest” state.
The Problem: Only recently have we discovered that a healthy microbiome is essential for good mental health, and how strongly the two are linked. Eve Kalinik, a UK-based certified nutritional therapist, explains that “recent research has directly [shown] the microbiome influences neurotransmitters in the brain, affecting the way that we think and feel,” and “certain strains of beneficial bacteria can themselves produce many of the same mood-positive chemicals used in brain signaling, such as dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.” Researchers are even experimenting with replacing antidepressants with probiotics, with promising results thus far.
We have also discovered a link between low serotonin levels in the gut and depression, with constipation and bloating being the result, and unfortunately, many antidepressant medications themselves cause bloating, making this mental illness a double digestive whammy.
The Solution: To combat the bloating effects of depression, Dr. Chutkan recommends both talk therapy and exercise, a well established and potent mood booster. “Movement helps to lift the mood, and it doesn’t have to be intense to get a little bit of an endorphin rush,” Chutkan says.
Read more HERE.