Stomach ache

It’s forgivable when babies do it, entertaining when a dog does it, but gas is awkward for the rest of us (even when we blame the dog). Thing is though, it happens. So what are “normal” levels of gas, bloating and heartburn, and how do we make changes to keep them at a minimum? 

Barring any serious digestive disorders, the major causes of indigestion are poor food combining and foods that cause gas. Periodic gas throughout the day (especially after eating) is completely normal, and a slight bit of bloating is too, especially after a big meal, lots of salt or too much liquid. Heartburn generally comes as a result of eating too much, too much spicy food, or something that you’re allergic to.

Food Combining

Yes, humans have complex nutritional needs, and of course we love our sauces and spices, but knowing a few food-combining tips can help keep the gas and bloating to a minimum. Eat fruit and juices alone or at the beginning of a meal. Avoid carbs with proteins; add greens instead to both. Drink lots of water throughout your day, but generally not with food (a few sips to help things down is okay, but guzzling glasses of water is not recommended). Add fermented foods such as kraut or kimchee to your meals. Fermented foods break down hard-to-digest proteins and carbs and can improve healthy digestive bacteria colonies.

Foods to Avoid

Skip the soda and beer and anything carbonated. While beans and cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cabbage can cause gas, they are part of a healthy diet. If you’re newly integrating these foods, try adding a bit at a time and eating with a fermented food. Avoid dairy products and fruit juice. For heartburn, avoid spicy foods (not just “hot” spicy but anything with a lot of seasoning), reduce salt and common food allergens such as dairy, soy and wheat.

Treating

So you ate the whole plate of nachos anyway… it happens. Try brewing a cup of ginger, peppermint or fennel tea. The pharmacoepial herbs that Traditional Medicinals uses are incredibly potent. Herb Pharm makes powerful herbal tinctures that are easy to carry with you as needed. For heartburn, you can try drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Sounds counterintuitive, but give it a few minutes. Consistent heartburn, bloating and painful gas episodes could be a sign of more serious illnesses and you should see a physician if they persist.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: hill.josh