Your gut dictates a lot in your life from your immunity to your mood. I learned this the hard way. I am usually in a good mood but I noticed that whenever I am feeling bloated or having indigestion, my mood and patience plummates, and I have to put in a lot of effort and mindfulness to bring it back up.
I had optimal health and digestion for the last decade but it all went out the window last fall when my body literally shut down from stress (chronic stress, car accident, emotional trauma, work pandemic, etc). I used to eat 2 bowls of pho and still have a flat stomach after a couple of hours but these days, I may have a salad and bloat up like a balloon. I am not implying a ‘flat stomach’ is a sign of good health, but optimal digestion is crucial for your well-being.
My healing journey has been long yet interesting because I am learning so much about my body! I hold stress in my stomach so I am not surprised that this happened. It isn’t the best situation to be in however since I’m in it, I am going to make the most out of it! Why waste a learning opportunity? I am already seeing so much improvement in my digestion, and I am just thankful to be going through this now when I have a lot of time freedom than later, when I may have more stressors and responsibilities.
**Remember, what worked for me may not work for you! My symptoms, history, genetics and lifestyle is NOT the same as yours. It’s only in your best interest to consult with your doctor before trying something new.
How I am healing my gut from bloating and indigestion:
Minimizing Inflammatory Foods
Eliminating all inflammatory and processed foods is standard practice when you have any digestive issues. I didn’t eliminate but mindfully decreased my consumption of inflammatory foods containing refined & processed grains, processed sugar, and dairy. I wasn’t too strict on this so this was perhaps why my healing is slow but I had to maintain balance to my mood + happiness which includes my social life and other factors. And alcohol in moderation! If only life was straight-forward!
Addressing Low Stomach Acid
Many people don’t realize they have low stomach acid. I improved digestion by limiting liquids especially around meals so my stomach can produce efficient stomach acid needed to break down food. I also used betaine HCl supplements or sometimes apple cider vinegar to aid in digestion. *As with many “holistic solutions”, there aren’t enough clinical studies to prove it’s efficacy so you need to try it to see if it works for you!
I was in a car accident, have a desk job, and an extremely active lifestyle. My TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner) told me that in many cases of bloating, she relieved her clients by loosening the muscles in their back. After months of other treatments, this was the one thing that SIGNIFICANTLY worked. I see my massage therapist, chiropractor, physiotherapist, and do craniosacral massage once a week, but I try to squeeze in 2-3 acupuncture appointments if I can. There are so many benefits and it feels sooo good. Check out my blog post on the benefits of acupuncture.
Digestive enzymes (before and during meals helps your body absorb nutrients from food). Probiotics (for a flourishing microbiome). Prebiotics (to feed your beneficial gut bacteria). Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) and lemon balm tincture (repair and soothe stomach lining). Just to name a few! *note consult with your health practitioner before starting any new supplements!* Click here for my comprehensive post on gut health supplements I take.
Mindful Eating Habits
Simple shifts in eating habits can improve digestion. Chew your food properly because digestion starts in the mouth with your enzyme-rich saliva. Eat smaller meals. Don’t eat 3 hours before bed. A growing body of research suggests that our bodies function optimally when we align our eating patterns with our circadian rhythms so it maybe better to eat larger meals during the day.
Movement After Meals
Not only does taking 20 minute walks after meals bring down your blood sugar but movement will get things ‘moving.’ If I’m unable to get outside, I’ll clean my kitchen immediately so at least I’m up and about, and do some simple yoga stretches. I also love stretching, and rolling my stomach with tennis or lacrosse balls.
As with anything, diet, exercise, sunlight, and quality sleep plays a huge role in overall wellbeing. Healing from anything requires an optimized lifestyle and environment. In fact, changing your environment may be your first step in healing: purging toxic environments, habits, and especially people. You need to be in a positive + growth environment that promotes love, understanding, and healing.
Eat when you are happy!
This is extremely important! I learned my body will not digest food properly when I’m not in a good mood. When you are sad, angry, or stressed, your body activates it’s sympathetic system (fight or flight mode) and as a result, digestion shuts down. Your body shifts its energy resources toward fighting off a life threat, or ‘running from the lion.’ We live in a society that has programmed us to be in this state chronically so it is important to have tools to shift back into rest-or-digest mode.
Meditation and breathwork activates your parasympathetic nervous system (rest or digest mode) so your body can work optimally. Stress is a silent-killer, and the root cause of many issues. By tackling this and combining it with your toolbox of healthy lifestyle habits, you can significantly improve your symptoms and get well on your way towards healing. I am obsessed with meditation!
If you are looking for an acupuncture, a chiropractor, or a good physiotherapist in Vancouver check out this blog post: A Spiritual Wake Up Call: Accident Recovery.