The following post was originally published on Clean Living Guide.
When we’re feeling gassy or bloated, it can seem like we’re the only ones with this embarrassing problem. But the reality is that many people regularly experience gastro-intestinal discomfort. In fact, surveys suggest that close to 75 percent of people suffer from discomfort caused by bloating and gas.
Having lived with gluten intolerance for most of my life, I’m no stranger to these symptoms. And I’m going to arm you with some great tips to help relieve your sluggish digestion, but depending on what other symptoms may accompany bloating, it may be necessary to see a doctor and push forward with some investigative work. In particular if you’re experiencing persistent diarrhea or constipation. You don’t want to let those symptoms go unchecked.
The imbalanced modern diet – heavy on sugars and processed carbs – has contributed to a near epidemic of gut dysbiosis. This broad term for microbial imbalance, is commonly diagnosed as a candida overgrowth or a parasite like fungus called Blastocystis. And unfortunately people who have untreated gluten intolerance, Celiac or IBS are especially susceptible to this type of fungal overgrowth. If you suspect that this might be the reason behind your gassy constitution, you’ll want to see a capable doctor with a functional medicine or naturopathic practice.
If you suspect that gluten intolerance might be at play, but aren’t quite sure if your symptoms fit the bill, read “Misdiagnosis Maze: Symptoms & Causes of Gluten Intolerance.” The symptoms may not be what you think.
Simple Lifestyle Changes to Lighten Your Load
1. Morning Hydration
Start each day with 16-20 oz of water, with the juice of an entire freshly squeezed lemon. Take the tonic as soon as you wake up and at least 30 minutes before eating breakfast.
This effortless habit will dramatically improve your digestion and ability to get things moving in your gut. Think of this toning solution as a combination cleaning and hydration system for your intestines and colon. Gas often builds up when hard matter has become lodged in the intestines. By thoroughly hydrating the entire digestive tract with a gently acidic solution, you will eventually soften and gently break down stool that has gotten stuck, allowing it, along with gas, to pass.
This practice takes time to take effect, so don’t be disappointed if on day one you’re not seeing results. Give it a solid week before expecting to see stuff moving, and month to experience a dramatic shift.
If you’re consistent with it you can expect much improved elimination! This is exciting stuff, because with the stool you will be eliminating all manner of toxins and the cause of much of your bloating.
2. Fresh Ginger Root Decoction
Using about an inch (or tablespoon) of chopped ginger root per cup of water, bring the water to a boil and simmer covered for 20-25 minutes. Sip while hot, any time of day or with meals.
This powerful tea will aid in digestion and calm inflammation in the digestive tract. The pungent taste is an indicator of its purifying post-digestive effects. This makes ginger tea great to sip on when having a meal. Although you might like it as much as I do, and want to drink it all day long.
I drink fresh ginger root tea year round, much of the day. Not to settle my stomach, but because it’s what my body craves. Unlike any other beverage, ginger root tea gives me the sensation of deep hydration. I simply can’t get enough of it. You can take it with honey, but I prefer it plain and with the addition of turmeric – another anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial herb.
To save time, make big batch of decocted ginger tea and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days. Be sure to warm it up before drinking. Cold drinks promote stagnant digestion.
3. Abdominal Massage
Using your hands, massage your abdomen in a slow, circular motion for 2-3 minutes or about 4-5 times around.
- Lay down flat on your back.
- Start on the right side of your abdomen.
- Continue up below your rib cage, down the left side and back around again.
- Make small circular motions with your fingers, pressing them firmly as you go along.
Variations of this massage technique have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Abdominal massage has many toning and energetic benefits, but what you’ll notice immediately is that it has the power to physically move gas through the intestines and can give you great in-the-moment relief.
Be mindful not to do this right after a big meal! Preferably, wait at least two hours after eating a substantial meal.
Practicing this self-massage technique consistently for a week or so, will improve blood flow to the abdomen, bringing with it all the benefits of improved circulation, and the potential to help with symptoms of constipation. As a result of both of these factors, it may aid in the detoxification of the intestines.
If you have any of the following conditions, avoid this technique or check with a doctor before performing this self-massage: if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, a hernia, intestinal or stomach ulcers; bleeding in the stomach, brains, or lungs; have inflammation of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or bladder; have stones of the bladder, kidneys, or gallbladder.
Here’s a fantastic video that’ll show you exactly how to do this, and give you a little more information on the incredible benefits:
4. Colon Hydrotherapy
Splurge on a series of three colonics, 4-5 days apart.
I was a sceptic for many years, because of conflicting information on the benefits and potential cons of colonics. But after performing a series of three colonics recently I can vouch for the incredible effects of this gentle therapy. Reducing the load of old, stagnant matter can really help reduce bloating and gas.
This could be especially useful if you’re experiencing mild constipation. The kind of constipation that doesn’t really constitute a doctor visit, but leaves you feeling a little clogged up because you’re bowels are just not moving enough. The key is to do a minimum of three treatments. Be sure to find a reputable spa that uses a three stage water filtration system.
If you can’t afford a series of colonics, try self-administered enemas at home. Be sure to get a non-toxic enema kit. Many kits on Amazon have bad reviews. You might consider just walking into a pharmacy and buying one in person. Check that the bag is made of silicone or a stainless steel canister, and that the tube does not smell of petrochemicals. The tubes are seem to be the most problematic component.
5. Yoga For Digestion
Do a 10-minute session of seated yoga twist poses followed by Breath of Fire exercise. Try Bharadvja’s Twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana.
Although twists are commonly associated as tonic postures for abdominal organs in addition to the spine, this advice is coming from my own personal experience. I’ve been doing yoga for 15 years now, and although I’m not a teacher, these are asanas that I’ve found to be noticeably helpful in relieving abdominal discomfort.
You can practice twists every morning, before an afternoon/evening meal, or just once in a while to treat in-the-moment discomfort, but take causation not to practice Breath of Fire close to bedtime.
Watch this video for correct Breath of Fire instruction. Even if you’ve practiced this breathing technique in a yoga class, chances are that you did not receive the full teaching.
6. Avoiding Processed Foods and Table Salt
Avoiding processed and preserved foods may seem like a no brainer, but the main point here is to avoid chemically processed table salt. Industrially processed foods are loaded with sodium chloride. The denatured salt used to preserve and enhance canned or pre-made meals bares no resemblance to the chemical structure of the naturally processed Celtic or Himalayan sea salts that I recommend in my recipes.
Table salt is a denatured chemical. Once it enters our bodies sodium chloride binds with water and other minerals, demineralizing and dehydrating the body. This poison cannot be metabolized by the body and as our bodies try to brake this foreign substance down, the process dramatically slows our digestion.
What’s worse, table salt has been proven to cause bloating and water retention, which results in looking and feeingl fat!
7. Avoid Being Sedentary
Use a standing desk and move your body as frequently as possible. Take short walks, get up and do a few jumping jacks. Do whatever you can to give your body a brake from sitting.
Sitting causes bloating. While sitting your organs and digestive tract become compressed. The whole of your midline becomes sluggish and, again – your digestion slows. If you focus on it, you can actually feel it happening!
According to Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease:9, sitting after eating causes:
“Sluggish digestion, in turn, can lead to cramping, bloating, heartburn, and constipation, as well as dysbiosis in your gastrointestinal tract, a condition caused by microbial imbalances in your body.”
If you have the option to switch to a standing desk, you can get a high end model at Focal Upright or find more affordable options on Amazon or at Ikea, but be sure to get the Focal Upright Locus Stool to accompany whatever desk you choose.
After herniating a disc I was determined to find the right computer set up. I stalked office furniture showrooms and tried EVERY model available before investing in my Locus Seat – including less expensive models from Focal Upright. None of the sit/stand stool options were anywhere close to as comfortable.
The padded standing base is essential for keeping my knees happy. For the intermittent moments that I use the seat, it could not be more comfortable. I find that when I do use the stool to give me knees even more of a brake, I tend to wiggle around on the stool, shifting my hips from side to side, or forward and back, which keeps my core and body actively engaged. I can’t recommend it enough. If you spend close to 8 hours at a desk, you owe it to yourself to upgrade.