Unfortunately, stomach issues are becoming more and more common and many are suffering due to stress, an unbalanced diet or food intolerances. Personally, I’ve experienced digestion problems, such as gas, bloating, and other uncomfortable moments since I was only 16, and they still continue today. While I have found relief by using the Paleo way of eating, I still occasionally find myself with pants that are suddenly harder to button or days where I’m unwilling to put on a bathing suit. There are times when I can gain up to five or six inches in my waist in a matter of seconds, making my stomach bloat like I’m five months pregnant. Of course, those are the times when my body is telling me I ate something it can’t handle well.
It’s an uncomfortable subject to write about but it’s an even more uncomfortable issue we must deal with. That’s why I felt it would be a great idea to share some tips I’ve learned over the years through trial and error to help my readers with their own stomach distress. I’ve used all of these tips, some on a daily basis, to relieve bloating, reduce inflammation and hopefully help to heal my stomach long term.
So whether your stomach is bloated or in knots due to stress or indigestion or a food intolerance, these quick tips can help you to ease stomach issues quickly:
If you suffer from an uncomfortable or distended stomach, a few relaxing yoga moves can help to ease your discomfort. But it’s not just the movement that’s helping your body – yoga’s focus on deep, meditative breathing can also help to relax the muscles around gut, which may provide relief. I’m a big fan of ujjayi breathing exercises that take your focus off of your day and bring it simply to the rhythm of your breathing.
I’ve used many of these poses to literally “wring out” my gut of excess air and encourage smoother digestion:
Child’s Pose – there’s a reason this post is considered the “wind-relieving” pose
Twist poses – Triangle, Marichyasana
Apanasana – the upright version of the child’s pose, a great way to compress your gut
Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose) – stretches your stomach muscles out
Setu Bandha Saravangasana (Bridge Pose) – compresses your digestive organs while bringing new blood to your heart
Ardha Pawamuktasana (Half Gas Release Pose) – the name of this one says it all
2. Drink plenty of fluids
I know you hear it everywhere but there really is a benefit to drinking more water. It may be just me, but when I’m dehydrated I tend to get bloated and start retaining water. I’ve found that the doctor really was right: the more water you drink, the better you feel.
Peppermint tea has also been known to ease stomach distress because the active ingredient, menthol, has relaxant and antispasmodic properties, which can have a calming effect on the muscles of the stomach. In addition, it also assists your gallbladder with digestion of fats and can have a mild detoxification effect on our liver.
Remember when you were little your parents would give you ginger ale for a stomachache? You can get the same benefits without the carbonation by drinking ginger tea, which has been used for generations to help stomach pain.
3. Deep breathing/Meditation
For those that aren’t able to sneak a yoga session in when your stomach starts acting up, you can still get gut-healing benefits just by finding a quiet place to practice deep breathing and/or meditation.
Since your gut is tied so heavily to your brain, the simple art of relaxing can give you huge benefits when it comes to your digestion. The Enteric Nervous System, which is embedded in our gastrointestinal system, is connected to our brain by the vagus nerve. This is why you may get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you get bad news or bloating can occur when stressed. For me, my stomach reacts within seconds of a high-stress situation bloating up like a balloon. I’ve been able to avoid or reduce my bloating by breathing deeply and staying calm through the stress, reminding myself positive thoughts of encouragement.
4. Essential Oils
Peppermint and Ginger – just like with the leaf teas, you can also put a few drops of peppermint or ginger oil in a warm mug of water and get the same great taste and benefits. It’s also effective if diffused or, when combined with a carrier oil, rubbed on your stomach
Cumin – drives away gas from the gut and prevents further formation, acts as a stimulator for bile and gastric juices, which helps digest foods faster, and also is a diuretic to aid in reducing water retention. Works well diffused, or rubbed on your stomach with a carrier oil.
Di-Gize blend – a combination of Ginger, Anise, Fennel, Peppermint, Tarragon, Lemongrass, Patchouli, Lemongrass, and Juniper essential oils, this blend works well if rubbed directly on the stomach, in a diffuser, or even a few drops taken in a capsule before meals.
An anti-inflammatory, turmeric is known to assist your gallbladder in digesting fats and reduce gas and bloating. You can either sprinkle turmeric on your food or take a simple good-quality supplement. I purchase mine a Costco, and have noticed a daily decrease in bloating and stomach issues. The brand I use includes black pepper to help with absorbency, and was given a thumbs-up by my naturopath.
This may be more of a long-term fix for your stomach issues, but the daily use of probiotics has been shown to relieve stomach distress by encouraging good bacteria growth in your gut. Not only can they crowd out the bad bacteria, but they can give your immune system a boost.
Probiotics are especially important if you’re currently or have recently completed a course of antibiotics. Since antibiotics kill bacteria, they kill both the bad and the good. If you fail to repopulate your gut with the right bacteria you can allow bad bacteria to overpopulate and cause other issues down the road, such as infections, auto-immune disease and other chronic illnesses.
Here’s what I’ve used for several years: Bio-Kult 120ct
And an even better source of good bacteria are fermented foods, such as kefir, kombucha, homemade yogurt and fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, pickles, etc). Easy to make and delicious to eat, homemade or store-bought fermented foods provide huge amounts of good bacteria (even more than a supplement).
So, if you struggle with stomach issues, like I do, I recommend you try some of the tips listed above to help temporarily ease your discomfort. Of course, if you’re not eating well or taking care of your body these tips won’t fix the problem for good. It takes a whole foods diet to really help reduce ongoing inflammation and digestion issues. That’s why I advocate the Paleo diet – full of real food, it helps reduce triggers that can cause inflammation, which can lead to chronic health issues. Here is a great guide to get you started on your journey to eating more of a whole foods diet/Paleo diet.
The hardest part about changing your diet is the change itself. Once you start and learn the ins and outs of a new, healthy way of eating, you’ll get the hang of it and will find that eating this way is so worth the change.
DISCLAIMER: None of the health statements presented on The Paleo Baker have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. They should not replace personal judgment nor medical treatment when indicated, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always talk to your naturopathic physician about the use of these or any other complimentary modalities. The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Christine, aka The Paleo Baker, unless otherwise noted. Reading this website denotes your understanding and agreement to our disclaimer.