Having to loosen your waistband after a meal to provide relief from stomach bloating can indicate a deeper issue.
Bloating is caused by inefficient digestion; meaning food ferments, creating gases; encouraging a toxic breeding ground for bacteria, yeast, mould, parasites and candida. How long after eating the bloating occurs indicates which area of your digestive system is upset. If it’s immediately or soon after eating, the stomach may not be producing enough hydrochloric acid to digest protein; or it may be due to not thoroughly chewing food. If the bloating occurs two to three hours after eating, there may be a problem with the small intestine, pancreatic enzyme production, the liver or gallbladder. Food intolerances could also be an issue, and the use of my in-clinic testing devices can help to pinpoint these.
Naturopathic recommendations to relieve stomach bloating
A core principle of naturopathy is to identify and address the cause such as Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO), parasites, enzyme deficiencies, acid imbalance , food allergies or intolerances and even a hormone imbalance.
Natural remedies for stomach bloating
- If too many foods requiring different enzymes are eaten in one meal, bloating can ensue. For a long time, naturopaths have recommended and continue to recommend food-combining rules, that is, to avoid eating protein foods and starchy carbohydrates at the same meal. Vegetables and salads can be eaten with either food group, and fruit should be either eaten alone (in the case of melon) or with other fruits, and preferably before your main meal.
- Enzyme deficiencies are commonly caused by stressful emotions, as fear, anger, stress, nerves and anxiety all stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn slows gastric activity.
- Diets high in processed foods are another culprit, as is over-cooking, as high temperatures destroy enzymes. Aim to eat at least 70 percent of your food natural and raw – increase salads and veggie variety – think beyond avocado, lettuce and tomato to beetroot, cabbage, dandelion leaves, and lots of fresh herbs. Lightly steam or stir-fry more dense-textured veggies, and keep starchy ones like potatoes, pumpkin, and sweet potato that need longer cooking time to a minimum.
- Cut out foods you have tested intolerant towards. Typical culprits include wheat, lactose and onions, but there can be many more. The FODMAP Diet is often recommended to assist with stomach bloating.
- Enzyme supplements are best prescribed by a professional naturopath, as they can worsen symptoms if not appropriate to the condition causing the bloating. Betaine hydrochloride (HCL) and pepsin are used to boost protein digestion, while pancreatin, amylase, lipase, and protease increase pancreatic enzyme production.
- Aromatic, bitter and carminative herbs can treat different aspects of bloating: aromatics have a strong odour that stimulates digestive function; bitters promote digestion and absorption by stimulating secretion of gastric juices; and carminatives relax intestinal muscles and are wonderful if cramping is also present. For chronic cases, you need herbal liquid extracts/tinctures prescribed by a naturopath. Example herbs include gentian, dandelion root, meadowsweet, ginger, fennel, peppermint and cinnamon.
- For occasional bloating you can use dried herbs in a tea – steep 1 teaspoon of a mixture of all three in a small cup of boiling water for at least 10 minutes and drink it before meals. Or, add them to your meals.
– Fennel: eases bloating with flatulence, encourages appetite after food poisoning.
– Cinnamon: use for bloating caused by a tummy bug, as well as nausea and diarrhoea.
– Dandelion leaf or root: best for bloating associated with poor fat digestion due to liver or gallbladder issues, and constipation.
– Peppermint: great for bloating with flatulence, colic-like intestinal pain, IBS and inflammatory bowel disease.
– Chamomile: a digestive tonic that boosts liver function. Excellent if bloating is stress-related, as it has a beautiful calming action on the nervous system.