The size of your waistline is not just influenced by the amount of fat stored there. It is also influenced by the amount of wind and food stuck in your digestive system. Unfortunately, some of the foods you may be eating for your ‘health’ may be causing stomach bloating and abdominal distension. Another significant cause of poor digestive health is a lack of digestive enzymes and beneficial (probiotic) bacteria. Getting your digestive system cleared and functioning efficiently and avoiding those foods which cause your stomach to be filled with excess gas and air will eliminate one of the causes of an increased waistline. Here are some tips on how to eliminate stomach bloating and gas and flatten your belly.
1. Get Your Digestive System Functioning Effectively
Digestive bloating and gas are often caused by poor digestive tract health. An imbalance of digestive bacteria and/or insufficient digestive enzymes leads to poor digestion and food fermenting in the digestive tract resulting in gas, bloating and belly expansion. Digestive enzymes can be gained from eating raw foods, especially sprouts and raw whole fruit. You can increase the amount of probiotic bacteria in your digestive system by eating naturally fermented foods every day. This includes naturally fermented sauerkraut/vegetables, live plain yoghurt, kombucha, kefir and naturally fermented miso. However, most people living in modern urban environments are exposed to so many factors that kill off the probiotic bacteria in their digestive system that for optimum health it is best to take a probiotic supplement on a regular basis.
2. Avoid Non-Health Promoting Causes of Abdominal Gas/Bloating
Excess refined table salt
During the intense processing it goes through, normal table salt is stripped of any other minerals except sodium and chloride. Sodium and chloride are two of the nutrients necessary for our organs to function. However, the intense heat processing of table salt alters the form of the sodium chloride crystals into one that is very difficult for your body to metabolise and use. In addition, water is attracted to sodium so when you eat high amounts of sodium your body will temporarily retain more water i.e. it is a cause of fluid retention. Foods that are high in refined salt include: chips, crackers, prepared meals, tomato sauce, baked beans, prepared sauces, prepared flavour mixes, fast foods, anything tinned/bottled in brine (olives, capers, fish) and cheese. Subtle sources of salt and sodium include packaged cakes and biscuits, diet foods and bottled mineral water.
Grains are not all that easy for your body to digest and contain a number of anti-nutrients which inhibit the absorption of key minerals. They do not contain any nutrients that can’t be gained from other food sources so as long as you are eating plenty of low-starch vegetables (go easy on carrots, sweet potatoes and potatoes) for carbohydrates and fibre then you can eliminate grains altogether. I recommend no more than 2 small serves of grains a day and avoiding wheat altogether. Modern wheat is very hard to digest and eating wheat and store-bought bread are common causes of abdominal bloating.
When you chew gum you swallow air. This air can get trapped in your digestive tract causing pressure, bloating and belly expansion.
When you eat hard lollies you also swallow a lot of air. This air can get trapped in your digestive tract causing pressure, bloating and belly expansion.
Eating too fast and talking a lot while you eat
Again, this causes you to swallow a lot of air. However, a leisurely meal with casual conversation is good.
Another source of trapped air/gas in your digestive system
Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol and maltitol found in artificial sweeteners may be low-calorie but are not a good thing to consume if you are wanting to balance your body size. You body can’t absorb or use these substances and they have been shown to cause wind, bloating and abdominal distention.
3. Observe for Any Other Foods Which May Cause You Excess Digestive Gas
Common foods that may cause excess digestive gas in some people include:
- Brussel sprouts
- citrus fruits
Pre-soaking of beans/pulses and cooking of all these foods can help prevent them causing gas. Prunes are high in natural sorbitol (see sugar alcohols above).
Putting It All Together
It is best to work through these steps in order i.e. first get your digestive system working effectively by consuming plenty of raw food and sources of probiotic bacteria. Second, avoid the major causes of digestive bloating and gas which are also not good for your overall health e.g. chewing gum, sugar-free products, wheat and refined salt. Lastly, observe if some of the other foods which may cause excess digestive gas are a trigger for you even when prepared properly i.e. pre-soaking beans/pulses and cooking vegetables.