kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

After-meal bloating is one of the most common and difficult issues. Bloating occurs in your abdomen and when it happens, your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled with air or gas.  It can include your entire digestive system. When you are bloated, you feel as if you’ve eaten a big meal and there is no room in your stomach. Your stomach feels full and tight. It can be uncomfortable or painful. Your stomach may actually look bigger. It can make your clothes fit tighter.

Up to 30% of people experience bloating. It tends to come hand-in-hand with other gastrointestinal disorders, such as indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation. It also cause frequent burping and abdominal rumbling or gurgling.

Severe bloating may occur along with other serious symptoms, such as:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Noticeable weight loss (without trying)
  • Vaginal bleeding (between your periods, or if you are postmenopausal)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn that is getting worse
  • Fever (due to an infection)

If you have any of these symptoms along with bloating, call your doctor.

Bloating can be caused by something as simple as the food you eat. Some foods produce more gas than others. It can also be caused by lactose intolerance (problems with dairy). Other simple reasons for bloating include:

  • Swallowing air (this can happen when you chew gum, smoke, or eat too fast)
  • Constipation
  • Overeating
  • Reflux (GERD)
  • Weight gain
  • Menstruation (in some women)

Other causes could include medical conditions, such as:

  • Infection
  • Inflammation (such as a condition called diverticulitis)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Liver disease (abnormal buildup of fluid in your stomach or pelvis)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Blockage in your bowel or bladder
  • Cancer (ovarian, uterine, colon, pancreatic, or stomach)
  • Mental health factors, such as anxiety or depression
  • Some medicines

Your doctor can generally diagnose the cause of your bloating through a physical exam in the office. They will ask you questions about your symptoms. They will want to know if your bloating is occasional or if it occurs all the time.

Temporary bloating is usually not serious. If it happens all the time, your doctor may order other tests. These could include an imaging test to look inside your abdomen. This could be an X-ray or CT scan.

There are many ways to prevent and avoid bloating:

  • Avoid the foods that are known to cause gas. These include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, beans, and lentils.
  • Avoid chewing gum.
  • Avoid using straws for drinking.
  • Reduce or avoid drinking carbonated drinks (such as soda).
  • Reduce or avoid eating and drinking foods that include fructose or sorbitol. These artificial sweeteners are often found in sugar-free foods.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Eat more foods high in fiber to prevent constipation. If foods alone don’t help, consider taking a fiber supplement.
  • Avoid dairy products if you notice they cause gas and bloating.
  • Quit smoking.

For temporary bloating, ask your doctor about over-the-counter medicines that relieve gas and bloating. These could include simethicone or charcoal caps. Probiotics and certain herbal ingredients can relieve your discomfort, too. Herbal ingredients include peppermint and chamomile tea, anise, caraway, coriander, fennel, and turmeric.

Questions to ask your doctor:

  • Do I need a test to diagnose lactose intolerance?
  • Why do certain foods cause my bloating when they never used to?
  • What can I do if I have diabetes and my medicine or artificial sweeteners cause bloating?
  • Could my bloating be a sign of something more serious?
  • What kind of tests will I need?

The causes are complex. There can be a wide range of contributing factors, notably including food intolerance, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and inflammatory conditions.

Four plant compounds can safely relieve bloating and improve the overall health of your digestive system.

Fennel and curcumin have traditionally been used to aid digestion. Seeds from fennel, a plant known for its licorice flavor, can be consumed after meals to promote digestion and prevent flatulence.

In vitro research shows that fennel reduces gas production by inhibiting the activity of a methane-producing bacterial enzyme. In addition, clinical trials have shown that fennel seeds, tea, and seed oil stimulate gastrointestinal function, improving gastric motility. Fennel also has an antispasmodic effect, reducing irregular muscle contractions that impair normal gut motility.

Researchers combined fennel seed oil and a low-dose curcumin in a clinical trial to test their effect on bloating and abdominal pain. For the trial, researchers enlisted 121 patients between the age of 18-60 who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome. They gave them either a blend of 42 mg of curcumin and 25 mg of fennel seed oil or a placebo, twice daily. After 30 days, those taking the fennel-curcumin blend reported an average 50% decrease in bloating, abdominal pain, and other irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. This was nearly double the 26.1% decrease in the placebo group.

All symptoms were improved by treatment. Among those taking fennel-curcumin, 25.9% became completely symptom-free, compared to just 6.8% of placebo recipients. The treated group also reported a significant improvement in irritable bowel syndrome-related quality of life, with no adverse effects.

Artichoke influences the production of bile from the liver, which helps break down fats, absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and speed up digestion. Italians traditionally serve an artichoke and herbal liqueur after dinner to assist with digestion.

Ginger has been shown in human studies to promote gastric motility, the movement of food out of the stomach and into the small intestine. A combination of 20 mg of ginger root extract and 100 mg of artichoke leaf extract led to substantial gastrointestinal improvement in a clinical trial.

A study recruited 126 patients with functional dyspepsia (recurring and unexplained indigestion) to receive the combination or a placebo. Patients rated the severity of six dyspepsia symptoms: fullness, bloating, feeling full after only a small amount of food, nausea, vomiting, and epigastric (upper abdominal) pain.

In just two weeks, 44.6% of participants taking the artichoke-ginger blend had significant improvement in digestive symptoms, compared to 13.1% of placebo users. After four weeks, 63.1% of those in the treatment group reported marked reductions in digestive symptoms, compared to only 24.6% in the placebo group.

Foods to Combat Bloating and Indigestion

Fennel is a tall herb with hollow stems and yellow flowers. Originally native to the Mediterranean, it grows all over the world and has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant. Fennel seeds can be dried and used to make tea. The tea tastes a little like licorice, with a relaxing scent and slightly bitter aftertaste. Fennel tea can be purchased in almost any supermarket or health food store.

Fennel has long been thought to strengthen your eyesight, regulate hormones, improve your digestion, and help memory. Researchers found that ground fennel seeds in solution were effective against bacteria that cause indigestion, diarrhea, and dysentery, as well as some hospital-acquired infections.

According to one study, fennel was effective at collecting free radicals, which cause disease. This suggested fennel extracts could be used to help individuals ward off the effects of many chronic diseases and dangerous health conditions, including cancer, hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis, and inflammation.

Fennel has been used to:

  • relieve flatulence
  • encourage urination – fennel is recommended if you are detoxing from a sodium-rich diet, because sodium forces the body to retain water and fennel acts as a mild diuretic
  • boost metabolism
  • treat hypertension – there is evidence that potassium, calcium, and magnesium decrease blood pressure naturally. All of these are present in fennel. Dietary nitrates in fennel and other foods have vasodilatory and vasoprotective properties.
  • improve eyesight and prevent glaucoma – fennel contains potent plant compounds and other antioxidants such as rosmarinic acid, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, and apigenin. These antioxidants are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. The fennel’s anti-inflammatory properties help treat swollen eyes caused by lack of sleep or dryness. Use tea in a compress.
  • regulate appetite
  • clear mucus from the airways
  • stimulate milk production in nursing women
  • speed digestion – fennel relaxes your digestive muscles, helping to regulate bowel movements.
  • fennel tea – helps cleanse your body and move toxins through your system.
  • reduce gas – in some parts of the world, people chew  fennel seeds after a meal to aid in digestion.
  • reduce stress

Fennel is considered fairly mild, although some people may be allergic to it. It is also possible to overdose on the extracted oils found in fennel.

There is some controversy over whether fennel should be used to soothe infant colic. Estragole, which is found in fennel, might not be safe for babies or any person when they’re exposed to it in large quantities. If you’re pregnant, you should avoid drinking fennel tea. The estrogen that is activated in the oil of the fennel seed could confuse your pregnant body, which is already experiencing a surge in all kinds of hormones.

Since fennel is in the carrot family, avoid drinking fennel if you’re allergic to carrots or other plants in that family, including celery or mugwort. If you take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder, you should also use caution when drinking fennel tea.

Curcumin Turmeric’s most active ingredient is called curcumin. It’s thought to be responsible for most of turmeric’s health benefits. Turmeric is rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. In traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has been used to relieve arthritis pain and regulate menstruation. It’s also been used to improve digestion and liver function.

To increase bioavailability of curcumin, take it with pepper. There is no exact science or ratio as to how much black pepper you should take with turmeric. ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper with one tsp turmeric powder can provide health benefits and aid in the absorption of curcumin.

Turmeric and its extract curcumin are both said to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, turmeric may relieve gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Curcumin might also:

  • protect the gut from damage from NSAIDs and other toxins. It has a role in keeping the bacteria associated with ulcers in check, helps ulcers heal, and it works actively on killing cancer cells in the gut.
  • relieve joint, back and knee pain – curcumin works as an anti-inflammatory by regulating enzymatic activities by blocking key inflammatory pathways.
  • prevents type 2 diabetes
  • help with skin dryness – A 2019 systematic review found that curcumin can help combat the effects of psoriasis and dermatitis. Topical application of curcumin may also help with acne, as this compound has antibiotic properties.
  • boost brain function and memory – As an antioxidant, curcumin frequently crosses the blood-brain barrier to protect brain cells from free radical damage. This also allows for increased blood flow to the brain, which improves memory and concentration. The presence of curcumin also increases the production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein that stimulates the creation of new brain cells. Curcumin also increases the bioavailability of DHA, a fundamental amino acid and building block for your brain.
  • improve digestion and blood circulation
  • promote cardiovascular health
  • enhance immune support and nervous system
  • anti-depressant – As an antidepressant, curcumin may be a great natural alternative for SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drugs. People who suffer from depression often try numerous medications, in search of an effective medication without horrible side effects. Curcumin helps with depression by increasing the two critical neurotransmitters associated with depression – serotonin, and dopamine.
  • digestive health – an increasing number of studies have suggested that gut dysbiosis is linked with many metabolic diseases, and curcumin seems to have beneficial effects on gut microbiota, favoring the growth of beneficial bacteria strains
  • cholesterol regulators

Turmeric is a natural blood thinner. You shouldn’t take turmeric if you take drugs that thin your blood or if you have an upcoming surgery.

Turmeric may also lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and make gallbladder problems worse.

Artichokes are frequently cited as a superfood, in part because of their high levels of antioxidants. Artichokes contains chemicals that can reduce nausea and vomiting, spasms, and gas. These chemicals have also been shown to lower cholesterol and protect the liver. People commonly use artichoke for indigestion and high levels of cholesterol or other fats in the blood.

Artichokes are a great source of fiber, which can help keep your digestive system healthy by promoting friendly gut bacteria, reducing your risk of certain bowel cancers, and alleviating constipation and diarrhea. Artichokes also contain inulin, a type of fiber which acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber that feed the “friendly” bacteria in your gut. This allows your gut bacteria to produce nutrients for your colon cells, which leads to a healthier digestive system.

Artichoke extract may also provide relief from symptoms of indigestion, such as bloating, nausea, and heartburn. A study in 247 people with indigestion determined that consuming artichoke leaf extract daily for six weeks reduced symptoms, such as flatulence and uncomfortable feelings of fullness, compared to not taking artichoke leaf extract.

Cynarin, a naturally occurring compound in artichokes, may cause these positive effects by stimulating bile production, accelerating gut movement, and improving the digestion of certain fats.

Ginger – has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine. It’s been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and even help fight the flu and common cold.

The unique fragrance and flavor of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol. Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger. Gingerol has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects which help reduce oxidative stress, the result of having an excess amount of free radicals in the body.

To treat gas, which can lead to bloating, adults can take 1-2 teaspoons of fresh root daily, or 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of powdered root daily, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. For ginger liquid extract, the recommended dose for adults is 30 to 90 drops. You can add ½ tsp of ground or freshly grated ginger to 1 cup of hot water to make a tea to relieve gas.

Because ginger can thin blood, you should not take it if you are on a blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin or aspirin without your doctor’s guidance. Also see your doctor if you have gallstones before consuming ginger. In rare cases, ginger may cause mild diarrhea, mild heartburn, mouth irritation or stomach discomfort.  Taking ginger capsules may prevent gastrointestinal side effects, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center.

How to Buy

Extract of fennel seeds is not the same thing as fennel tea. Fennel tea is less processed and more likely to be pure. Fennel seed is available in capsule form. According to one manufacturer, the recommended dose is 3 capsules (480 milligrams) per day. Fennel seeds can be bought in most groceries.

Your body absorbs turmeric and curcumin poorly. The spice and its extract are both rapidly metabolized by your liver and intestinal wall. Various methods of delivery have been explored to increase the bioavailability of curcumin. One way to increase turmeric’s absorption is to consume it with piperine. It’s commonly found in black pepper. Turmeric and black pepper are often sold together in supplements. The pepper increases the absorption and action of the turmeric. When choosing turmeric supplements, look for brands that have black pepper extract or piperine listed as an ingredient.

1. Organic Turmeric vs. Harmful Turmeric Organic turmeric is grown without synthetic pesticides and harmful chemicals. You will find turmeric root in the produce section of grocery stores.

When choosing a turmeric supplement, purchase one that is organic. Synthetic pesticides can be made from toxic chemicals that can harm your health. With organic turmeric supplements, you can be sure that you only get the benefits without having to worry about ingesting toxic chemicals.

2. Clinical research: an effective turmeric supplement should contain between 1,000 – 1,300mg of Turmeric Curcumin standardized to 95% and 10mg of BioPerine.*

3. BioPerine® is sourced from black pepper – having BioPerine in the digestive tract with supplemented nutrient results in enhanced absorption. A purified extract of piperine is necessary to get the increased absorption.

You should never buy supplements that don’t have Certificate of Analysis. The studies should be conducted in labs that are not affiliated with the manufacturer. These labs verify the product for safety and potency. Some brands add artificial fillers to cut cost to offer cheap products. Some of these cheap fillers we found were titanium dioxide and artificial coloring. You should never purchase cheap products when it comes to supplements.

A reputable supplement company will offer 100% money-back guarantee policy and provide customer support through phone number and email.

To select artichokes, start by looking for artichokes that feel firm and heavy, which is a sign that they’ll taste good. Also, make sure the artichokes’ leaves are green and tightly packed. Do not buy if the leaves are brown or loose. Artichokes are also available canned.

Look for ginger with shiny, taut skin. The ginger skin should be thin, never thick and fibrous. Just because ginger is sold in larger pieces doesn’t mean you have to buy the whole thing. Break off what you need. And ginger should snap prettily easily. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not fresh.

How to Store

Fennel seeds, tea and extract should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.

Turmeric/ curcumin – Turmeric root is a food item like ginger root that should be refrigerated for longer shelf life.You can also freeze unpeeled turmeric in an air-tight freezer bag. You can buy powdered turmeric in most grocery stores.  Keep in a cool, dry place out of sunlight.

To preserve fresh artichokes:
  • Put 1 inch of water in a bowl.
  • Cut off half an inch of the stalk end. The freshly exposed end enables the stalk to absorb water easily keeping the whole artichoke fresh for long.
  • Stand the artichokes in the bowl containing water.
  • Put the bowl in the refrigerator.

Use your ginger within six months. If you use ginger pretty frequently (two to three times a week), store it in a resealable bag (with all the air removed) in the crisper drawer of your fridge. If ginger doesn’t show up as often in your cooking, store it in the freezer and grate it whenever you need it.

 

How to Cook

Use fennel seeds from your own plant or from a health food store to make your own fennel tea. You can dry the seeds out by laying them flat and baking them in sunshine for two or three days, or you can speed up the process by microwaving the seeds in increments of 30 seconds, checking on them often. Then, crush the seeds and use them in a tea ball or empty tea bag, steeping in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes.

The longer you steep fennel tea, the stronger the brew will taste. There is no recommended daily limit established for how much fennel tea is safe to drink. Since fennel tea affects digestion, start with one cup at a time and see how your body reacts to drinking it.

Fennel has a distinctive licorice-like flavor and is used in salads, ice cream, cookies, alcoholic beverages, pasta dishes, and more:

  • as a spice
  • eaten raw
  • dried
  • braised
  • grilled
  • shaved
  • stewed
How to add curcumin to your diet:
  • Add it to tofu scrambles and frittatas
  • Toss it with roasted vegetables
  • Add it to rice
  • Try it with greens
  • Use it in soups
  • Blend it into a smoothie
  • Make tea.

Preparing fresh artichoke can feel intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. Rinse the artichoke and then cut off the stem. Open the petals up a little bit, and then steam the artichoke for 30 to 40 minutes.

Once your artichoke has been steamed, you have a few different options for eating it. Some people choose to peel away the petals of the artichoke and only eat the center, or “heart.” However, some of the best nutrients are concentrated in the leaves. To get the full health benefits, you can pull the leaves off the artichoke and scrape off the meaty part with your teeth.

Ginger pairs wonderfully with bananas (they are distant relatives), so add grated fresh ginger to banana bread or muffins. Ginger also likes apples, so add it to applesauce and apple pie. Or combine it with apples and maple syrup and simmer to make a compote for topping pancakes. Add shredded ginger to soup while it cooks to give it a little spice and flavor. You can also add a pinch of chopped ginger to a stir fry.

Roasted Artichokes With Vegan Garlic Butter

Amanda/ Mindful Avocado

6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 3 fresh artichokes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) vegan butter  – MELT, Earth Balance or Miyoko’s
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400° F. Fill a bowl with cool water and squeeze lemon juice from 1 lemon into the water. Put the peels in, too.
  • Cut the artichokes: Trim the end of the artichoke and remove loose leaves on the bottom. Using kitchen shears, trim pointy ends of the leaves. Be careful as they are sharp! Cut the artichoke in half and use a spoon to remove the fuzzy “choke”. Quickly place artichoke halves in the bowl of lemon water face down. This is to prevent them from browning as artichokes brown very quickly when in contact with air. Continue the process for other artichokes.
  • Place each artichoke half in a 9×13″ baking dish cut side up. Do not shake off excess water. Leaving them with water steams them and makes them more tender. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Cut the other lemon into 6 slices and place 1 lemon slice on top of each artichoke half. If there’s any leftover lemon, squeeze it over the artichokes. Place a rosemary sprig and 1 garlic clove on top of each artichoke half.
  • Carefully flip over each artichoke half so the cut side is facing down. Brush the tops of the artichokes with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. You can test the doneness by pulling off a leaf. If it comes off easily, the artichokes are ready.
  • Once artichokes have baked, remove them from the oven and remove the roasted garlic cloves.
  • Mash the garlic with a mortar and pestle or the side of a knife. Melt vegan butter and mix in the roasted garlic. As the butter sits, the garlic will infuse into the butter more.

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