Gas, bloating, sharp abdominal pain – this is your body’s way of telling you that you’re doing something wrong. A little gas and bloating is normal; but when it causes severe discomfort and affects your day-to-day life, something has to change.
Gas and bloating is the result of your gut bacteria making burpies and tooties in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. When you feed your gut bacteria stuff that makes them gassy, you become gassy as a result.
Other factors such as the amount of liquid in your GI tract and the acidity of of your GI tract also contribute to your discomfort.
The good news is you can control all these factors.
If you suffer from Chron’s Disease, diverticulitis, celiac disease, or other digestive diseases, there’s more to it than simply avoiding certain foods; but for day-to-day bloat and pain, there are plenty of strategies from keeping discomfort at bay. Plus, implementing these strategies can prevent and mitigate the effects of digestive diseases in the short-term and long-term.
In this article, we focus on types of foods that help rebalance the GI tract in order to mitigate gas, bloating, and abdominal pain caused by eating junk and mistreating the body.
Disclaimer: Severe abdominal pain can also indicate a more serious internal issue. Educate yourself on the potential problems and consult a medical professional if you ever experience extreme discomfort.
Strategy #1 – Starve ‘Em Out
When we feel bloated, the last thing we want to do is fill our bellies with more food. One strategy is to starve our gut bacteria by not eating, thus preventing the bacteria from creating gas. However, this can be damaging to our GI tract in the long-term.
When we starve the gassy bacteria, we also starve the helpful bacteria. There are bacteria in our GI tract that actually help us digest food. Our bodies rely on these little buggers for a healthy absorption and elimination system.
Starving ourselves is not a good option because it offsets the balance that we need to maintain in order to prevent gas, bloating, and abdominal pain in the future.
Strategy #2 – Take A Pill
Pepto, Beeno, Tums, or even prescription antibiotics and anti-inflammatories can be taken before, during, and after symptoms occur. There are also medicines that can be taken daily so that we do not have to alter our eating or lifestyle habits.
Oh, mylanta! This is no good!
Medicine is great when we are sick with an infection, high fever, or contagious disease; however, medicine should never be used to replace responsible decision-making.
Thus, taking pills is not a good option because it enables poor habits and offsets the balance that our bodies are designed to have.
Strategy #3 – Reset The Balance With Food
Ding, ding, ding! This one is surely a winner.
It seems counterintuitive, but in order to help our GI tract get back to normal so that we can feel good again, we need to help move things along down there and reestablish the balance that our bodies require for optimal health.
The big thing to focus on here is quality not quantity. We do not want to send three pounds of food down our throats and overwhelm our system more than it already is. Instead, we want to choose foods that are soothing, encourage movement, and reduce inflammation.
Ultimately, we want to eat small amounts of useful food that help create effective bowel movements and leave our GI tract in good condition to better receive and digest food.
Here is a list of some very useful foods that you can eat whenever you experience GI issues:
Apples are high in fiber and help assemble waste in your intestines. Eat one small to medium apple on an empty stomach, and chew very well. Apples are good to have first thing in the morning or as a mid-afternoon snack.
An apple-a-day truly keeps the doctor away (because apples aid in digestion), so definitely incorporate apples in your daily routine.
Oats are high in fiber and make you feel full without sitting heavy in your belly. Eat up to 1/2 cup of plain oats mixed with up to 1 cup of hot water, depending on how you like it. This is good as a breakfast or mid-morning snack.
Do not eat the boxed package of oats that contain sugar and other ingredients. Just eat the plain oats and water. If you need to spruce it up, throw in 1/2 cup of blueberries or half the apple from #1.
Again, oats are a staple food that should be incorporated regularly in our eating.
3. Herbal tea or warm water with lemon
Warm liquids help break-up stubborn solids in our system and encourage movement through our intestines.
Herbal teas are great for soothing and making us feel all warm and cozy. It’s like a soft blanket for our insides. Teas with ginger, mint, chamomile, fennel, and lavender help relieve digestive issues. Green tea is also useful, but contains caffeine. If you’re not into tea, a cup of warm water with a twist of lemon can do the trick.
Drink three to four cups of tea or warm water per day when experiencing symptoms. Do not add sugar, milk, or any other ingredient to the drink. If you choose green or black teas, only have one or two cups earlier in the day. Caffeine is not your friend when your belly is in pain.
4. Room temperature water
In between the tea or warm water, be sure to drink plenty of room temperature water. Water keeps your GI tract hydrated and facilitates movement. It also helps balance the acidity in the GI tract and flush out gas and waste.
Choose room temperature water over cold water. Cold water might not feel good in that belly when it is all bloated.
Celery is a natural digestive aid that does not take very much energy to digest. Thus, celery passes through the GI tract with ease and scoops up stubborn solids along the way.
Cut up a few stalks and spread some all-natural peanut butter on them. (Choose the all-natural peanut butter without added sugar or preservatives. The ingredients list on the jar should contain only peanuts and maybe salt.) The peanut butter is also good for digestion, but go easy on it because it contains a lot of fat which can be disruptive during high-bloat.
6. Greek yogurt (with no added sugar)
Greek yogurt (with no added sugar) is gentle on the stomach and intestines and provides a source of helpful gut bacteria. While drinking and eating foods with the intention to eliminate the gassy bacteria, some of the good guys get flushed as well. Thus, it is important to replace the good buggers so that they can reproduce and help rebalance your insides.
Greek yogurt is preferable, but regular yogurt is also fine. Just be sure to choose a plain yogurt with no added sugar or extraneous ingredients.
7. Green powder juices
They taste like garbage, but those green powder juices are seriously amazing. The powders typically contain an assortment of grasses, vegetables, herbs, and probiotics. I currently use Perfect Food Raw made by Garden of Life. (Please note that I do not receive commission for promoting this product. I’m just a really big fan.)
If you can tolerate the temporary discomfort of foul taste, take back one to three servings of green powder juice per day when you are experiencing symptoms. I swear by this stuff as part of a daily routine to keep the GI tract in check; and it also helps during extreme times of bloat and abdominal pain.
8. Beets and their greens
Beets are high in fiber and promote the function of digestive support organs, such as the pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. If you cannot stand the taste of beets (I can almost hear my mother’s outcry of how absolutely disgusting beets are), they can easily be disguised in a berry smoothie.
Just add some water, beets, blueberries, raspberries, or another berry of choice, and throw in some of the beet greens. Add ice and blend. Yum.
What else you got? What other foods do you turn to in order to get your belly back on track?
Notice that the focus of the food list is high fiber, soothing, and easy to digest. The focus is also on high water content.
In addition to eating these foods, it is critical that you have patience. Your digestive system doesn’t clean-up instantaneously. It takes a few hours for the food to travel through and take effect. In the mean time, go for a walk, do some light stretching, lay on your back with your feet propped up, and try to relax. A relaxed belly helps facilitate movement.
Have any more tips? We’d love to hear them! Please share your ideas in the comment box below.
(photo credit: christy mckenna via flickr cc)
Not blueberries! Apples, yeah. But blueberries may cause stomach ache and bloating. Experiencing this as I type. lol
Hey, Brian! Sorry this response is so late. Sometimes certain foods don’t set well in our bellies. Blueberries are super high in fiber, so they can exasperate the issue if we inundate our system with them. Drink lots of water – I promise it will help! In the future, try gradually incorporating foods like blueberries into your diet. Sometimes we need to ease in to help everything ease out…horrible, horrible joke… :)
Love your writing, amusing and informative-a note on beets however, i made a chocolate beet cake-and it is causing big problems. no beets for some of us. I have a question, what about red tea?
Hi, Loretta! Glad you enjoy the articles! Sorry to hear about the beets. Like I told Brian, some foods just don’t sit well in certain bellies. To answer your question, red rooibos tea is a delicious caffeine-free drink known for its unique antioxidants that help regulate blood sugar, improve cardiovascular health, and produce anti-inflammatory effects in the body. It also helps settle an upset stomach and relieve bloating, constipation, and other GI-related issues. If you enjoy the taste, I definitely recommend incorporating red rooibos tea into your daily regime! Let us know how it goes!
I am experincing the bloating/flatuence as I type this. I had eaten beets and have severe reaction. I read up on beets and learned they can cause stomach discomfort. Could a person be allergic to beets? Will try the other remedies though. Chamomile tea has helped in the past as does ginger. Thank you for any thoughts on making everyone’s tummies feel better.
Just finished reading an article that beets cause gas. You are saying to eat beets. I am confused.
I’ve been keeping a food diary for the days I experience severe bloating, gas and cramping. Raw beetroot and blueberries, spinach and kale are always present on those days. I also just read that beets can cause severe cramping, so I’ll be cutting those out for now and see how it goes.
Beets are terrible for folks with gut problems. I think you need to do your research before posting an article like this. It’s irresponsible, I am sorry to say. You seem like a nice and caring person.
This is one of the sweetest corners of the interweb I have stumbled upon in a good while. Thanks for the tips Rachel;)