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Bloating Busters: Unveiling the Power of Natural Remedies

Bloating, that uncomfortable and often inconvenient feeling of a swollen abdomen, is a common complaint many of us have experienced. While occasional bloating is normal, persistent bloating can be painful, unpleasant and impact our overall well-being. In this blog post, I’ll explain some of the key natural remedies I utilised to help alleviating my bloating and may help you too. Get ready to discover the power of digestive enzymes, peppermint oil, fennel, slippery elm, aloe vera, digestive bitters, the importance of avoiding drinking at mealtimes, and the role of liver detoxification in reducing bloating. Let's dive in!


Digestive Enzymes:

Digestive enzymes are natural substances produced by our bodies to break down food into smaller, more easily absorbable components. Clinical trials have revealed their potential in reducing bloating by improving digestion. A study published in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that participants taking a digestive enzyme supplement experienced significant reductions in bloating and flatulence compared to the placebo group. These enzymes help break down complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats thus improving nutrient absorption. Proper digestion and enzymes prevents large food particles being fermented by bacteria and yeasts and causing bloating or altered bowel movements.


Now, let’s look at the different types of enzymes:

  • Protease: this group of enzymes breaks down proteins into amino acids. Pepsin is housed in the stomach and is triggered by hydrochloric acid to be produced when protein hits the stomach. Also, trypsin and chymotrypsin are then produced by the pancreas and subsequently released into the small intestine. Finally there are additional proteases on the brush border in the small intestines. Two of the most common proteases are bromelain and papain which are used in many commercial products. These are extracted from pineapple and papaya.

  • Amylase: Your saliva contains amylase which breaks down starches into sugars. These include food such as wheat, potatoes, rice. Amylase is also then released in the small intestine to finish the digestion process. If there is an issue with the production of amylase in the small intestine, you can end up with issues such as SIBO.

  • Alpha-galactosidase: breaks down the sugars in the raffinose family found in cruciferous veggies and beans.

  • Lactase: breaks down lactose (the sugar in milk). Insufficient lactase is what causes lactose intolerance.

  • Sucrase: breaks refined sugar.

  • Maltase: breaks down maltose to glucose.

  • Dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV): helps break down gluten

  • Lipase: breaks down triglycerides, fatty acids and glycerol. Also, then bile helps the body absorb these components, so that fat can get turned into energy.

Supplementation = These are best taken 15 minutes before meal time and require a build up time. So depending on the supplement often you would start with 1 for breakfast and dinner and then increase to 2. You can usually see a marked improvement in the first 3 days of taking them, however with more longer-term gut issues sometimes 4-8 weeks.


Food as medicine = Papaya – Proteases (papain), Pineapple – Proteases (bromelain), Avocados – Lipases, Raw Honey – Amylases, Proteases, Invertases, Diastases, Mangoes – Amylases, Sauerkraut – Lipases, Proteases, Kiwifruit – Proteases (actinidain), Ginger – Proteases (zingibain) and Bananas – Amylases, glucosidases


Peppermint Oil:

Peppermint oil has long been recognised for its digestive benefits, including its ability to relieve bloating and abdominal discomfort. Research supports its use as a natural bloating remedy. The active compound in peppermint oil, menthol, has been shown to relax the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, reducing spasms and bloating. Simply add 2 drops into a glass of water or herbal tea and sip. You can also try rubbing some peppermint oil on the abdomen for bloating relief.


Fennel:

Fennel has been traditionally used to soothe digestive complaints, including bloating. Clinical studies have shed light on its effectiveness in alleviating bloating symptoms. In a randomized, double-blind study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, participants who consumed fennel seed extract experienced a significant reduction in bloating compared to the placebo group. Fennel has carminative properties, which means it can help relax the muscles of the digestive tract, reducing gas and bloating. This can be taken as a tea, however to reach a therapeutic range you must steep the tea for at least 15 minutes in boiling water and use three times a day. You could add in other herbs such as licorice and ginger to also help with digestion. Or you can also add it to salads and to your main meals.


Slippery Elm:

Slippery elm is derived from the inner bark of the slippery elm tree and has a rich history in traditional medicine for its soothing effects on the digestive system and its ability to draw out toxins. This large tree is primarily found in North America and Canada. Slippery elm contains a soluble fibre called mucilage, which is responsible for its impressive digestive-soothing properties, helping with reflux, indigestion, bloating, and potentially alleviating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The mucilaginous presence provides a nourishing and soothing lining to the digestive tract walls. Additionally, slippery elm acts as a prebiotic, serving as a source of food for the beneficial bacteria already present in the intestines. Through fermentation, the fibre breaks down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), offering fuel for intestinal cells and bacteria. Whether experiencing diarrhoea or constipation, slippery elm is beneficial for both issues. It aids in bulking and softening the stool during constipation and swells to produce a more formed stool during diarrhoea. Typically consumed in powdered form, this method is often the most effective and therapeutic way to take slippery elm.


Aloe Vera:

Aloe vera, well-known for its healing properties, may also offer relief from bloating. Clinical trials have indicated its potential in reducing bloating symptoms and improving overall digestive health. A randomized, double-blind study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences investigated the effects of aloe vera on bloating in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The study found that participants who received aloe vera gel experienced a significant reduction in bloating compared to the placebo group. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties and may help calm an irritated digestive system, thereby reducing bloating. Try adding aloe vera to your water or try it in a smoothie. See recipe below:


Gut Soothing Aloe Vera Smoothie


Ingredients:

- 1 cup Almond Milk

- 1/2 cup pure aloe vera juice

- 1/2 cup) fresh or frozen organic blueberries

- 1/2 large ripe banana

- 2 teaspoons extra virgin coconut oil

- 1 handful of basil leaves


Method:

Place all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses or jars, garnish with extra basil and serve.


Digestive Bitters:

Digestive bitters, herbal preparations made from bitter-tasting plants, have been used for centuries to support digestion and alleviate bloating. Nature provides us with abundant bitter flavours in various fruits, vegetables, and herbs, both for culinary delights and medicinal purposes. These flavours not only enhance the taste profile of our meals but also play a crucial role in preparing our metabolism and digestive system for optimal function. Digestive bitters offer an array of benefits for our health and well-being. They kickstart the digestion process by stimulating digestive secretions, like stomach acid and enzymes, ensuring efficient breakdown and absorption of nutrients, reducing the risk of issues such as nutrient deficiencies, bloating, gas, reflux, constipation, diarrhoea, and even skin conditions like eczema and acne.


Moreover, bitters lend their support to the liver by boosting bile production, which aids in the breakdown of fats and facilitates the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Additionally, they assist in the detoxification process, making them valuable liver detox herbs.

Furthermore, bitters offer gut healing properties through their rich content of complex carbohydrates, alkaloids, vitamins, and minerals, which possess antioxidant, antiviral, and antispasmodic properties. These powerful elements work in harmony to reduce not only bloating but inflammation, control pain, relax muscles, stimulate the repair of the gut wall lining (leaky gut), and improve overall digestion and elimination.


No Drinking at Meal Times:

An often overlooked aspect of reducing bloating is the timing of our beverage consumption during meals. Drinking excessive fluids, especially carbonated beverages, while eating can contribute to bloating by diluting digestive enzymes and causing gas buildup. Clinical studies have highlighted the importance of avoiding drinking at meal times to reduce bloating. By refraining from drinking large amounts of liquids during meals, we allow our digestive system to focus on breaking down food more efficiently, reducing the likelihood of bloating.


Liver Detoxification:

Detoxification is a crucial process primarily carried out by the liver in two phases, converting toxins to reactive metabolites and then eliminating them. However, when detoxification doesn't function optimally, toxins can linger, leading to symptoms like fluid retention, bloating, and fatigue. A well-designed detox plan can help minimize toxins and chronic inflammation. Clinical research indicates that optimizing liver function through detoxification may alleviate bloating symptoms. It's important to remember that individual responses vary, so consulting a nutritionist can provide personalized assistance in improving liver health and digestion to reduce bloating and other digestive issues.


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