We’ve all been there, and we all hate it: the bloating, the gas, the distended abdomen, or having to unbutton your pants to get a bit more comfortable. And, if your diet has been particularly poor, you are under a lot of stress or suffer from PMS, it can get a lot worse: trapped gas that causes a lot of pain, fatigue, constipation, foul body odor… Ugh!
While bloating, gas and constipation can be the result of some serious health conditions, most people suffer from them because of poor eating habits and improper combining of foods.
These symptoms were part of my weekly routine since I was six years old. Back then, I was eating improperly combined food and lacked specific nutrients in my diet. My parents had the best of intentions and did the best they could, but like many of us, they were misinformed about the right foods and eating habits.
It wasn’t until I learned about Chinese Medicine, food combining and conscious eating that all these symptoms started to disappear. And now, many years later, I can proudly say that my days of stomach discomfort, bloating and painful gas are behind me.
So, how did I do it, you wonder? The answer is fairly simple. But first, it's important to learn how to prevent this from happening in the first place. Of course, prevention is a much better strategy than scrambling to find solutions once the problem arises. Some preventive measures include:
- Listen to your body/belly, and start to recognize the early symptoms of bloating and gas.
- Wait at least four hours before your next meal/snack. This allows the previous meal to digest fully and leave your stomach before you stack more food on top of older food.
- Do not talk while chewing; instead focus on fully chewing the bite before swallowing.
- Only eat fruit alone and on an empty stomach. Fruit combined with any other food produces gas and bloating.
- Have a digestive enzyme with every meal.
- Avoid saturated fats. Apart from cardiovascular problems, saturated fats are known to cause bloating and gas.
- Reduce consumption of dairy and processed flour foods like white bread. They are very hard to digest and cause irritation in the intestines.
- Do not drink during a meal. Drink 30 minutes before or 45 minutes after a meal. If the food is properly chewed, you will not have the need to “chase the food down.” Liquids dilute the digestive juices, making it a lot harder to digest the food.
These preventive measures will certainly help you reduce pain, gas and bloating significantly. But, if you still suffer from time to time, there are some well-kept secrets in the plant world that will rock your world and get your tummy feeling great in no time:
1. Ginger: Ginger is a super root. It is a wonderful overall healthy herb that aids digestion, reduces inflammation and alleviates heartburn. It is very antiseptic, helping get rid of parasites and relax and soothe the intestinal track, which is great for cramping and pain.
2. Fennel [Seeds]: The phytonutrients in fennel give it an antioxidant quality. But, its top quality lives in its ability to reduce gas and bloating. Chewing the seeds or making a tea will stimulate secretion of digestive juices, reduce inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and help your body absorb nutrients better. Fennel has been a Godsend for me, and I bet it will be for you as well.
3. Peppermint: This cooling plant literally soothes your stomach, relieving heartburn, indigestion, and bloating. Menthol (the active ingredient in peppermint) is both a carminative (reduces gas) and antispasmodic (reduces cramps). It is also well known for reducing nausea.
4. Cumin: Ayurveda considers this herb a great overall tonic for the body. And, the fact that it’s delicious makes it very easy to incorporate into your diet. Cumin seeds can be made into teas that are known to help secrete enzymes in the pancreas to aid digestion and proper nutrient absorption.
5. Black Pepper: This is a very popular seasoning spice. But, did you know that it reduces inflammation and helps stimulate production of enzymes and digestive juices? It has also been used to treat diarrhea in India and parts of Africa for hundreds of years.
In my personal experience, each and every one of these herbs has been more effective to relieve stomach discomfort, bloating and gas than any over-the-counter remedy I have ever tried (and I’ve tried them all!). Experiment with these herbs one at a time. Follow your intuition, and listen to your body. It is the best way to determine which ones of these work best for you and your constitution.
Let me know how they worked in the comments section below!