Do you ever feel ‘stuffed’, you know, where your belly feels full and tight, sometimes you can even see your stomach protruding? Bloating might be one of the causes, where your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled with air or gas. Especially for women, PMS might be the culprit. I know, as if the cramping isn’t punishment enough.
It can be frustrating, with all these questions running through your head –
‘Is it water retention?’ ‘Did I overeat?’
The cause might be hard to diagnose or pinpoint but don’t worry, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Here, I’ve listed my 5 top tips to combat bloating. Some might just be as easy as drinking, while some require a bit of lifestyle change.
It might sound too simple or ridiculous to some (because why would you add more water when you’re already retaining it?) –
but water actually helps flush out toxins and waste material from your system, out of the cells through urine and faeces, so you can function better.
If drinking plain water sound too boring, why don’t you add some lemon in it?
Lemon contains potassium, a natural diuretic and a gentle laxative that can reduce salt accumulated in your body.
If lemon is not your cup of tea, why don’t you just drink tea! While you’re at it, throw some ginger flavoured tea into the mix to boost both affect and taste. According to James A. Duke, author of “The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods”, ginger not only improves blood circulation, it also contains phenolic compounds that aid in food breakdown while protecting stomach lining.
2. Cook with turmeric
Turmeric is one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatories. According to a research by the University of Nottingham, it contains curcumin, a fat-soluble antioxidant that relieves indigestion and bloating.
Cooking your own meal might be the last thing on your mind when fighting off those period cramps. The thought of stepping into the kitchen might be very slim, but you’d be able to add in turmeric when making your own meals, ensuring your food isn’t too high in salt (which is a big no no during that time of a month, as it makes you dehydrated).
While you can take it in the form of capsule or add it into your drink, it will be more delicious added into your cooking as it is one of the most popular spices in Malaysia. Add a dash of turmeric into your dish, and it will work wonders for your body and taste buds!
3. Take Probiotics
Probiotics are live bacteria or yeast that can usually be found in fermented food. It helps in promoting good bacteria in the gut while improving our digestive efficiency.
Although bloating can happen any time during the day, researchers say our gut is most active in the morning and after a meal. Thus, consuming it at the right time will aid in reducing bloatedness.
Fluctuations of progesterone and oestrogen level during our month-on-month bleeding can make our cravings go haywire, especially with low levels of serotonin.
While eating highly processed sugary carbs like chocolates, chips and a delicious tub of Ben & Jerry’s is exactly what you’d want to do, these are just a temporary fix, and will only increase your sodium levels that make you bloated in the first place.
Instead, why do you opt for some yoghurt? Yoghurt might be one of the most popular choices when one thinks of probiotic meals. It’s delicious and quite a yummy treat! But if you are not fond of the taste, worry not because there are other local dishes that might suit your taste buds such as tempeh, fermented bean curd, sourdough bread, kimchi and apple cider vinegar.
If you’ve been thinking of getting a massage for a while but keep pushing it from your schedule, now is definitely a good time to treat yourself. Just make sure to tell the masseuse to focus more on your abdominal area.
According to health expert, Dr Mehmet OZ,
massaging the abdominal area helps in relaxing the muscles that support the bladder and intestines. It also aids your overall well-being, perceived abdominal bloating symptoms, and helps to treat those with depression or anxiety.
However, if you are not keen on going through all that hassle of booking a massage, you can do this on your own at home, by following these simple steps:
- Lie on your back, knees bent
- Place a hand on your stomach, massage in a clockwise motion from under your rib cage to the hip bone for 3 minutes
- Apply gentle pressure to tender areas for a minute
- Keep breathing normally and repeat until the tight areas feel relaxed
5. Move your body
Of course it’s totally understandable to not want to move when you have period cramps. But there’s no doubt that exercise is a very good way to help ease that body tension.
When menstruating, there’s an intense amount of cravings and mood swings to juggle, making us just want to hide under our blanket. Hearing the word ‘exercise’ might send you running for the hills, BUT –
research states that sweating during exercise helps boost digestion and expels gas out of the body. It also gets the bowels moving regularly as it eliminates extra sodium from the body whenever we sweat.
‘Moving your body’ doesn’t mean you have to go for that high-intensity cardio class you dread every time you feel bloated.
Instead, it could be as simple as walking around the block or your neighbourhood, to relieve the build-up gas pressure in our abdomen.
This is a lifestyle change that we need to take slowly to cure our bloating problems in the long run. What is more important is to find any physical activities that you enjoy because ‘prevention is always better than cure’.