Wellness

Four ways to beat belly bloat and cramps

Shrink your waist and boost digestion with our easy tummy-taming tips and tricks.

Woman holding hot water bottle, Feb 13, p88

Photo, Peter Dazeley/Getty Images.

During the winter it’s easy to let digestive enemies like stress, alcohol and poor diet get the better of you. And sooner or later your stomach will show its discontent by swelling, cramping or causing embarrassing gas. Here are a few surprising causes of these common complaints — and some of my favourite tricks to get rid of them.

1. Amp up your fibre
The recommended fibre intake for women is 25 g per day, yet we often fall short. And that doesn’t bode well for tummy comfort. Add a non-psyllium fibre supplement (8 to 10 g per serving) to smoothies; sprinkle meals with chia, sesame or hemp seeds; eat more blackberries and raspberries (the seeds are loaded with fibre); and choose high-fibre, whole-grain breads and cereals. Even a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa in your smoothies adds an unexpected 2-g fibre boost. Then show your bowels some love by taking a magnesium glycinate supplement (200 to 300 mg) before bed. It will ensure you sleep well and will help trim your waistline, too.

2. Really chew every bite
Healthy digestion begins with good chewing habits, so pay attention to your eating style. Work your way up to 40 chews per bite (or as many as it takes to break food down completely) and you’ll improve digestion, eat less and feel full faster. While it may seem like a lot at first, it will become second nature in just a few weeks. Finally, avoid eating while working, watching TV or surfing the web, to stay mindful of your chewing.

3. Eat more good bacteria
Put acidophilus supplements on your bloat-banishing plan. They assist with bacterial balance to help prevent constipation, reduce belly fat, balance blood sugar and enhance immunity. Take one or two capsules of a high-potency formula (10 to 15 billion bacteria cells per capsule) in the morning on an empty stomach.

4. Skip processed foods
Heartburn, bloating and constipation are often the result of inadequate digestive enzymes. If you eat a lot of processed foods, your body uses up its natural supply of enzymes. Try a supplement that contains pancreatic enzymes, plant-based enzymes like papain or bromelain, and pepsin; take one or two capsules with each meal. It will help your body process food more efficiently and ease digestion-related discomfort.

Get more advice from naturopathic doctor Natasha Turner here.

Natasha Turner, N.D., is a naturopathic doctor, Chatelaine magazine columnist and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet, The Supercharged Hormone Diet and The Carb Sensitivity Program. She’s also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique and a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show and The Marilyn Denis Show. For more wellness advice from Natasha Turner, click here

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 -Article originally published Feb, 2013.