You are training strong, racking up miles but are still constantly bloated? Find out why and what you can do to avoid this
Slow it Down
In our go, go, go culture and the pressures of juggling family life, work and training, how many of you find breakfast is a grab and go affair, squeezed in on the commute or gulped down before your first meeting?
‘We are all rushing to eat, explains Siobhan McHenry, GRTW Functional Medicine and Integrative Nutrition coach. ‘We often eat without chewing but the mouth is where digestion begins.‘
Food is mixed with saliva, beginning the all important process of breaking down food that will reduce bulk in the stomach.
‘It should take you at least 20 minutes to eat a meal, which is the amount of time it takes for the brain to receive the message from the gut that you are full,‘ explains Siobhan. ‘If you constantly eat on the fly or when distracted, your brain won’t register that you have eaten which can result in overeating and bloating.‘
Take time out to eat and chew properly, avoiding eating at your desk or in front of the TV.
Boost Your Gut Microbiome
The diversity of your gut microbiome plays an essential role, not only in how the stomach functions but also has an impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing.
‘Our stomach doesn’t use oxygen to function, so fibre is vital because it helps to fuel the stomach to breakdown food,’ explains Siobhan.
Lack of fibre, and overuse of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, which we often use for injuries and niggles can also deplete the bacteria diversity in the gut.
The more diverse the bacteria in our stomach, the more efficient our bodies become at breaking down fast release fuel items like sports gels and sweets that we consume in training or racing.
Understand Midlife Changes
‘During perimenopause and menopause, the hormonal shifts that we experience means that it’s common for women to develop intolerances to certain foods,’ says Siobhan. ‘Your body is entering a new chapter and life and you can develop sensitivity to things like gluten and dairy, leading to bloating.‘
Resetting the gut by giving it a break can allow the body to adjust and recalibrate.
‘It’s not like you are going through perimenopause and you can never eat a muffin again,’ says Siobhan. Rebooting the gut can be enough to get you back to equilibrium.‘
Your daily run or session on the bike may be your go-to way of de-stressing but physically, this activates a stress response and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.
It causes the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormone cortisol, or the fight and flight response. This causes the body to hold onto more water and triggers the body to divert physiological processes from what it seems as ‘non-essential’ , including digestion.
Plus, elevated cortisol levels can lead to elevated blood pressure, again triggering the body to retain water, resulting in bloating.
‘This is why recovery, in the form of sleep or simple activities like walking to move the body into a parasympathetic state are so vital,’ explains head coach and well being expert, Rachael Woolston.
*if you adopt the changes outlined here but are still experiencing constant bloating, it is worth chatting to your GP to see if there is an underlying cause*
Check out the GRTW Active Woman’s Gut Health Reboot.
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