A bloated stomach sometimes with painful cramps. Who doesn’t know it? Waking up early in the morning with a flat stomach but walking around at night as if you were six months pregnant. Especially women are aware of this problem. How is that possible? I get a lot of questions about this and I am an experience expert myself: I suffered so much that I even ended up in hospital for an examination, but there was nothing to be found. I now know that my intestines cannot tolerate gluten and dairy. However, the causes of bloating can be very different. And good news: sometimes the cause is very easy to remove.
Why women are more prone to bloating
Women’s digestive systems are significantly different from men’s, which explains why women are more prone to bloating. On average, women have a longer gut than men, while on average they are smaller. This is probably because during pregnancy the woman can absorb more nutrients from the small intestine and more fluids from the large intestine. In addition to a longer colon, women have a rounder, deeper pelvis than men. This combination can lead to a lot of looping in the intestines; women’s large intestines can twist like a roller coaster while men’s usually stay neatly in a U-shape. In those sharp bends, an accumulation of air and stool can arise et voilà: a bloated feeling.
In addition, an excess of estrogens in women (estrogen dominance) can cause unwanted growth of connective tissue tumors in the uterine wall and endometriosis. These both press on the intestine and that can also lead to a blockage of gas or stool.
Is it just a nuisance or could it be something serious?
The causes of bloating are very diverse and there are more than 100. Usually the cause is harmless and easy to remove and the problem is solved; my tips are based on that. It could also be that something serious is going on. In particular, if your bloating is accompanied by weight loss, weight gain, pain, nausea and vomiting, blood in your stool, fever, or a rapidly expanding drug, see your doctor. Inflammation, infection and cancer can cause bloating. If you’re even slightly concerned that your bloating could mean something more than a harmless symptom, seek medical attention.
Read through my tips and see what resonates with you. They’re all about making your overall digestive system healthier. Which ones stand out for you? Trust your innate feeling that, if you are honest, you know well what you need.
1. Add lemon juice to cruciferous vegetables
Do you regularly eat beans and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale? Very well! They contain many healthy nutrients, but also a type of starch called raffinose, which your intestines cannot completely break down and digest. This can give a lot of intestinal gas. Adding lemon juice boosts your digestive enzymes.
2. Use a contraceptive other than the pill
Birth control pills contain synthetic estrogen, which can be the cause of weight gain as well as bloating. Choose as light a pill as possible or better yet a non-hormonal form of birth control. If you stop taking the pill for a long time, you may experience temporary bloating.
3. Avoid xenoestrogens in your diet, cosmetics and household
Exposure to xenoestrogens contributes to estrogen dominance and thus to the risk of recurrent abdominal bloating. Xeno-oestrogens are found in chemicals in food, but also in care products, cosmetics and household products. Therefore, it is preferable to choose organic food and as much as possible 100% natural cosmetics and care products. Do your household with gloves on or choose 100% natural products here too.
4. Eat unprocessed foods
Processed foods are full of hidden chemicals such as fillers, fragrances, colors and flavors, preservatives, synthetic vitamins and have likely been sprayed with pesticides at an earlier stage. These substances wreak havoc in your digestive system. Bloating is the signal that your intestines have had enough.
Switch to real, unprocessed food that your grandmother would recognize as food
5. Watch out for caffeine
Like alcohol, coffee is a diuretic, which can slow the movement of food in your gut and lead to blockages. Limit the intake of caffeine (this is often also found in energy drinks) and drink a glass of water with every cup of coffee. Do you sleep badly? Then drink coffee before 12 noon.
6. Drastically reduce gluten in your diet
Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and kamut, is a common cause of bloating. When I largely eliminated gluten, my problems were over. Many women tell me this. Wheat contains the most aggressive form of gluten and is used in almost all products in the supermarket.
Wheat is in almost all processed products. One more reason to avoid processed foods.
7. Use extra fiber for constipation
Constipation is probably the most common cause of bloating ; a colon full of stools gives a sluggish, bloated feeling. There are many causes, but adding extra fiber is always good. Eat plenty of green vegetables and fiber-rich foods anyway. Start the day with a teaspoon (preferably ground yourself) linseed that you have soaked in a glass of water the night before. Drink another glass of water after that. Slowly increase this dose, if necessary, to three teaspoons.
8. Eat healthy fats (especially in menopause)
Menopause causes fluctuating estrogen and falling progesterone levels, both of which can cause chronic bloating. These fluctuating hormones can make you think that the air makes you fat. Be aware that your body changes greatly during menopause. Your hormones are made from healthy fats, so eat them and no, they won’t make you fat.
9. Do not sit in a chair for more than an hour at a time
Your bowels only start moving when you start moving. Sitting too much is one of the main factors that causes food to travel too slowly through your gut . Two hours of sports a week does not compensate for hours of sitting in front of a computer or television. Never sit for more than an hour at a time and then get some exercise. Walk up a flight of stairs or jump a rope!
10. Flush soda down the toilet (even the diet versions)
Soda is perhaps the main cause of your bloated stomach : it is liquid candy. The sugars and/or sweeteners in soda cause a proliferation of sugar-loving bacteria in your gut that, as they multiply, continue to give you an uncontrollable craving for sugar. Flush them down the toilet and you’ll feel a lot of relief.