When work comes up in conversations, the question I get asked most often by my friends is what new products, tools, or treatments I’ve been writing about that could help them fight bloating (second: wrinkles and then acne…). Clearly it’s on many people’s minds – and not just in quarantine times. We all know the common causes like soda, chewing gum, and eating too fast, but there’s so much more. Among the things you might not know a ton about are digestive bitters and the effects of stomach acid imbalances on bloating, so I reached out to health expert and nutrition coach Kerri Axelrod to find out how those might come into play when it comes to dealing with bloating woes. And, if all else fails, there’s always these…
What exactly are digestive bitters?
Digestive bitters are various herbs that can promote gut health by stimulating the digestive tract. Bitters can facilitate the production of stomach acid, bile, and act as a gentle digestive aid.
So they actually help with digestion?
Yes, bitters can be very helpful in supporting digestion. Bitters can stimulation receptors in the mouth to promote healthy digestion by increasing digestive fire and supporting the production of hydrochloric acid, pancreatic enzymes and bile; this leads to better absorption of nutrients and supports the digestive tract. With that said, it’s important to remember that bitters act as an aid to help your digestion run more smoothly, but do not address root causes. It’s best to always work with a qualified healthcare provider for addressing the root causes of your symptoms.
Do you have any you can recommend?
There are few herbs that I look for in any bitters product and this includes some combination of wormwood, gentian, and burdock. I also like to balance these herbs with chamomile, peppermint, and dandelion, which accessible and easy to incorporate. Keep in mind, different herbal formulations of bitters can target different ailments within the gastrointestinal tract and the liver. Herbs offer powerful medicinal support, which is why again it’s important to use them in a comprehensive treatment protocol guided by a qualified provider.
What about stomach acids? Can they affect bloating?
There is definitely a correlation between low stomach acid and bloating. When your body doesn’t have enough stomach acid, it cannot properly break down and digest the foods you eat. This can cause bloating, constipation, and oftentimes stomach discomfort.
How can people know if they may have an issue with stomach acids and what can they do about it?
Heartburn, issues with bloating and gas, and constipation may be a few signs that you may be struggling with low stomach acid.
Any other causes for “unexplained” bloating or any other tips to share?
Bloating is a symptom that can have a myriad of root causes. Bloating can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease things like eating too much sodium, carbonated beverages and eating a large meal. Bloating can also be due to intestinal disorders, poor gut health, celiac disease and other underlying medical conditions, which is why I can’t recommend enough that if you are experiencing consistent bloating to work with a qualified healthcare provider.