How can I feel less bloated?
An integrative physician says: Bloating could be due to celiac disease, lactose intolerance or poor eating habits, and another (often overlooked) cause is stress. When you’re stressed, blood flow is diverted from your digestive organs to your heart and muscles. The result of this energy diversion is that your digestive process starts to slow down, and you secrete less saliva and fewer digestive enzymes, which help break down food.
Treatment: Frequent relaxation breaks and exercise relieves the stress that can derail proper digestion function. Add live-culture foods, such as yogurt and kefir, to your diet to increase the “good” bacteria in your intestines. And limit mealtime distractions: Don’t eat standing up or while on a cellphone or computer. — Roberta Lee, M.D., vice chairwoman of integrative healing at Beth Israel’s Continuum Center for Health and Healing in New York and author of The SuperStress Solution
A traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner says: In TCM, bloating is said to be due to qi, or the energy of the body, becoming stagnant or slowing down. When this happens, food is not being processed properly and therefore accumulates in the stomach and intestines, which causes bloating. Poor eating habits exacerbate the problem.
Treatment: Acupuncture treatments can help stimulate qi. Two common Chinese herbal supplements prescribed for bloating are Curing Pills, a combination of 15 herbs, and Soothe Liver Teapills. Both are thought to aid the liver and stomach in working together to digest food. Exercise can also keep your qi from stagnating. Walking outdoors is especially beneficial because it gets qi moving in a gentle and natural way as you relax your mind and body. — Anna Perry, L.Ac., a practitioner at Crocus Hill Oriental Medicine in St. Paul, Minn.
A registered dietitian says: Digestion issues due to food sensitivity might be the culprit. Some people can’t break down certain foods, such as wheat, dairy, corn or soy. When food is not digested properly, the body absorbs larger molecules of protein that enter the bloodstream, causing bloating.
Treatment: Aim to chew your food 20 times per bite before swallowing to aid in breaking down your food. You might also talk with a dietitian about food sensitivity testing or go on an elimination diet to help you determine if certain foods could be causing your bloating. To prevent your body from having to do a lot of extra digestion “work,” eat more soups and stews, and steam your vegetables instead of eating them raw. Avoid carbonated beverages; opt instead for ginger or chamomile tea, which have been shown to reduce gas in the intestinal tract. — Karen Raden, M.S., R.D., in Chicago