It's the unfortunate side effect many of us experience during that time of the month: bloating. Although it can be all-consuming--and make you feel as if you've gained a few extra pounds--you're not alone in your struggle. In fact, the symptom is quite normal, according to Australia dietician Melanie McGrice. Speaking with NowtoLove, the expert debunked common bloating myths and shared need-to-know information about gut health. Here's what we gathered...
McGrice concurred that according to research*, 78 percent of women in her home country suffer from bloating. While these stats are high, you can take measures to eradicate the pain!
MUST-SEE: 12 Low-Carb Dinners to Kickstart Your Best Year Yet
Bloating is usually caused by irritated nerve endings in your digestive tract as food passes through it. According to McGrice, the key to easing digestive discomfort is probiotics--microorganisms that live in your bowels. These little creatures are responsible for extracting nutrients and producing vitamins from the food your body breaks down, as well as colonizing "good" bacteria in the area. Foods rich in probiotics--like yoghurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir, and pickles--can help reduce bloating. Make sure to check the label when opting for yoghurt, however, as not all yoghurts contain probiotics that will deliver those soothing bacteria to your intestines!
That's right, ladies. If you've got a bun in the oven, it's natural to experience bloating. It also occurs increasingly as you get older, when you're sick, and after you've travelled.
Onions and garlic--and even apple juice--can cause bloating in some people. Try cutting them out of your diet, then slowly reintroducing these foods to gauge their affects on your body.
Toothpaste is high in fermentable sugars--a byproduct also common in bread and pasta--which can cause bloating in some people. If you're highly sensitive, you may want to consult your doctor for your best option.
Excessive aches and pains in your tummy may mean your body is having trouble digesting certain foods. In this case, it's important to talk to a dietician to address your needs, especially if you're experiencing constipation or diarrhea.
MUST-SEE: Woman Took 7 Pregnancy Tests Before Doctors Discovered the REAL Reason for Her Bloated Belly and Back Pain
For a happy, healthy, tummy, McGrice recommends a diet rich in fiber, prebiotics (which produce beneficial bacteria in your intestines) from foods such as vegetables, legumes, and fruit, and probiotics found in certain yoghurts. She also advises drinking lots of water and getting in proper physical activity!
Yo-yo dieting, a term coined by Kelly D. Brownell at Yale University, is the cyclical loss and gain of weight that results from particular eating patterns. McGrice warns against it: yo-yo dieting weakens the muscles in the wall of the stomach, causing sluggish movements to occur in the digestive tract.
MUST-SEE: What Are Acai Bowls? Get the Scoop on the Healthy, Delicious Breakfast
Getting in your steps each day can do wonders for digestive discomfort. McGrice also suggests taking an aperient to help relive constipation, an anti-gas medication, or a supplement to help break down the short chain carbohydrates that have a hand in causing bloating.
Stress can cause those nerve endings in your bowels to become sensitive, initiating digestive discomfort. Although life can get hectic, make sure to take some time to decompress and relax after a long day!
Isn't it a relief to know there are TONS of ways to alleviate bloating?
*Quantitative Fiftyfive 5 U&A study 2014. (n=1000) Sample nationally representative, women 17-80 years old.
via Now to Love
Banana: This everyday fruit is not only delicious but also packed with prebiotic fiber that helps good gut bacteria flourish and improves your digestion.