Health

Natural ways to reduce indigestion and bloating

Soothe tummy troubles with these habits

You're tucking into a hearty meal after a long day when suddenly, your tummy starts to feel swollen and painful. That uncomfortable, tight feeling may be accompanied by a burning sensation or dull ache in the upper part of your stomach.

If you have experienced this before, you most likely suffered a bout of indigestion and abdominal bloating. Both are quite common and also preventable.

Here are eight natural remedies to ease these conditions.

Don't talk while eating

When you eat and talk at the same time, you tend to swallow a lot of air with your food.

This causes a build-up of trapped air in your stomach that can make you feel bloated and gassy after a meal. One of the simplest ways to reduce indigestion and tummy discomfort after eating is to chew with your mouth closed.

Avoid supper

Besides being bad for your waistline, eating too close to bedtime is also a sure recipe for indigestion and bloating.

Lying down just after eating makes it harder for the food to move down your digestive tract since your muscles are working against gravity. Try to have your meals at least two to three hours before sleeping to reduce your chances of getting indigestion.

Watch your wardrobe

You might want to take it easy with those bodycon dresses or high-waisted pencil skirts if you frequently experience bouts of indigestion.

Wearing tight clothes is not only uncomfortable when you are full but also exerts pressure on your abdomen, which can cause food to move back up your oesophagus.

Stay away from fried, oily foods

Greasy and fatty food usually has two effects on the body. Because it is hard to digest, it can linger in your stomach for a long time which prolongs bloating and indigestion.

On the other hand, all that oil and fat can also bring on cramping that speeds up movement in your digestive tract.

The result? A nasty bout of diarrhoea.

Eat small meals

An easy way to reduce your odds of getting indigestion in the first place is to eat smaller meals.

Instead of eating till you are 100 per cent full, aim to practise more mindful eating and stop when you are about 80 per cent full. Taking smaller meals means your stomach doesn't have to work so hard and this cuts your risk of getting indigestion and bloating.

Chew your food thoroughly

Time to stop wolfing down lunch at your desk.

Digestion actually starts in your mouth and not in your stomach. Chewing your food breaks it down into smaller pieces where it gets mixed up with saliva.

Saliva contains a digestive enzyme called amylase that helps to break down food even further. Absent-mindedly gulping down your food means you are swallowing larger chunks of food that don't have enough time to get moistened and softened by saliva.

Have a hot cup of tea

Wash down your lunch or dinner with soothing teas like chamomile and peppermint, which help reduce indigestion in their own ways.

Peppermint has a muscle-relaxing effect on the body that can make it easier for food to pass through your digestive tract, while chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties that can neutralise excess stomach acid.

However, avoid peppermint tea if you experience indigestion due to acid reflux.

Its antispasmodic properties will relax your lower oesophageal sphincter - the muscles between your oesophagus and stomach - which also makes it easier for acid to flow back.

Avoid foods that cause gas

Certain foods are known to be bloat-inducing because they contain hard-to-digest sugar and starch compounds.

When this happens, your gut bacteria starts to feed on this indigestible matter in your colon, releasing gas in the fermentation process.

This article first appeared in Shape (www.shape.com.sg)

MEDICAL & HEALTH