Feeling Bloated? Try Our Simple Two-Part Approach to Better Digestion
Bloating and water weight can be dramatically reduced by aligning the body and eating these healthy, slimming foods.
The body is a complicated organism. One element gets out of whack and the whole system suffers. This is especially true with the digestive system—which is directly affected by what we do and don’t eat on a daily basis. Nearly 70 million Americans are plagued with digestive diseases. Yes, the abundance of sugar and modified foods at the expense of vegetables and whole foods in the modern American diet is certainly part of the problem.
But here’s an idea most of us have likely never considered before: optimum digestion involves not just the food being eaten, but the body doing the eating. If the body is hunched over, for example, the stomach and the intestines are cramped and restricted. Reestablishing proper posture frees up the digestive tract and allows gravity to do its job.
Our advice for combating bloat and digestive discomfort is a two-prong: align the body with Elev8d’s simple, posture-based movements and modify your diet to include easy-to-digest foods.
The Surprising Ways Posture Affects Digestion
Any kind of misalignment can alter how the organs relate to one another, impacting the digestive processes as a result. Take a tilt of the pelvis, for example. Changes in spinal curves can push the transverse colon (the longest part of the large intestine) up to the chest cavity, impinging the nerve that triggers the diaphragm, preventing it from helping the colon contract. This can lead to a build up of waste and gas in the body.
“For good digestion, it is important to have proper body alignment so that blood flow is provided to all of the internal organs, especially those of the digestive tract,” says Dana Ellis Hunnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., a senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center.
Acid reflux, an issue caused by stomach acid being regurgitated into the esophagus, can also be triggered by improper posture. “The stomach is angled so the acid lies at the bottom,” Pete Egoscue, co-founder of Elev8d Fitness explains. “But if you roll your hips under, it not only changes the position of your stomach, but it also shortens the distance between the hydrochloric acid pool and your esophagus.” And thus the bile can more easily travel back up to the esophagus.
Restoring our body’s natural positioning not only allows gravity to do its job, but it also ensures good circulation and aids in delivering oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, reducing the likelihood of bloating, gas, and acid reflux. Correct posture throughout the day will aid the ongoing process of digestion.
Elev8d’s short, simple workouts are designed to do just that. Each form-focused movement works to correct asymmetries in the musculature that contribute to poor posture. By stacking the load bearing joints (shoulders, hips, knees and ankles), Elev8d exercises realign the body to be a synergistic, functioning system.
The Best and Worst Foods for Belly Bloat
Of course, even those with perfect posture can struggle to digest some foods. Sulfurous foods—broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower—for example, can cause bloating because of their gas-producing properties, notes Hunnes. Beans, high in starches called polysaccharides—while a healthy addition to most diets—are also fermented by the gut, at times, causing gas.
Artificial ingredients are hard for the human body to absorb—sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol) and high fructose corn syrup, for example, can slow things down, notes Ryan Maciel, R.D., C.S.C.S., a dietician based in Cambridge, MA. Acidic foods (tomato sauce, grapefruit, oranges), spicy foods (garlic or onion), caffeine, and alcohol can also cause heartburn or acid reflux, he notes.
Whole foods—fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins—are always best when considering the body’s ability to properly digest nutrients and fuel itself. Leafy greens such spinach and kale, which are high in water, are also highly alkaline and low in fat and sugar, all of which can help to reduce stomach acid, says Maciel. Water intake is key for health digestion, says Hunnes. But besides sipping throughout the day, you can incorporate foods full of water—peppers, zucchini, carrots, lettuce—into your diet.
Bananas, asparagus, soybeans, and artichokes are foods rich in prebiotics, a type of fiber that the healthy bacteria in your gut feed upon. Filling up on them can thus help promote the growth of this ‘good’ bacteria, furthering gut health and digestion, notes Maciel. Similarly, foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir—which contain the good bacteria itself—can help boost immunity and gastrointestinal health, he notes.