This question came up in last week’s live question-and-answer session: “I’m feeling bloated and puffy – what can I do?”
Whenever you make big changes in your diet — even when they are positive changes — you can end up with some unintended side effects.
When one of my clinical clients complains of bloating, three different indications come to mind, depending on what phase they’re on. So let’s break it down by phase.
Bloating on Phase 1
Here, when we’re eating the higher glycemic fruits and complex carbs, we look to the lower GI tract if you feel bloated. Candida (an overgrowth of fungal yeast in the gut) can be one possibility. I also find that sometimes a client has recently taken antibiotics that have disturbed the probiotic balance — the ‘good’ gut flora. I also like to ask if they’ve eaten a lot of non-organic chicken in the last few years; that can indicate extended exposure to low-grade antibiotics.
What to do: Here, fermented foods can be so helpful in restoring the probiotic balance in the gut.
- Kombucha is a great pre-biotic, meaning it helps feed your good gut flora and correct imbalances. Go for unsweetened kombucha.
- Fermented veggies are great. Try a couple of tablespoons of kimchi with a meal — kimchi is a Korean fermented-vegetable condiment. Cultured cabbage (sauerkraut) and cultured salsa are also good choices.
- Coconut kefir is another pre-biotic. Try a couple of tablespoons or more per day.
If a client complains of bloating during this phase, I look to inefficient breakdown of proteins. Too much undigested food may be making it too far down the GI tract. Here, we want to support the healthy digestion of food by supporting the pancreas. First, be sure you are eating lots of fresh, alkalizing vegetables — those green Phase 2 veggies, which help so much to break down and balance the proteins you are eating.
What to do:
- Drink a tonic of 2 tablespoons coconut vinegar mixed in 8 ounces of water. Coconut vinegar is a great alkalizer, helping break down proteins in foods. If you can’t find coconut vinegar (I like the Coconut Secret brand), use apple cider vinegar.
- Try a baking soda bath. Dissolve 1/4 cup baking soda in a warm bath and soak. The alkalizing agents in the baking soda are absorbed through the skin.
- Use deep-breathing techniques. This can actually aid digestion and it’s so easy to do. Here are two exercises to try.
- Include “hot” foods in your diet. Cayenne pepper, turmeric, chile peppers. These increase heat in the body, helping speed the metabolism to break down foods more efficiently.
Fat metabolism is key in Phase 3, so when a clients is experiencing bloating in this phase, we look to the lower GI, where fats are typically processed. We look to the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. You can support these organs with targeted foods.
What to do:
- Sip milk thistle tea. This herb helps promote the production of bile to break down fats in the liver.
- Try chamomile tea. Chamomile helps soothe and relax the muscles and lining of the intestine, easing digestion and inflammation.
- Include lots of fresh herbs in your meals. Fresh basil, cilantro and parsley really help to break down the healthy fats in Phase 3.