“A bloated stomach is usually caused by poor digestion, which happens when consuming certain foods and drinks. When the digestive system struggles to digest certain foods, it leads to excess gas and trapped wind, which causes abdominal bloating, pain and cramps.” Sebastian Pole at Pukka Herbs recommends the following four spices to help support digestion.
“Turmeric is a well-known tonic for the digestive system,” said Pole. “As well as helping to reduce inflammation in the digestive system, which prevents bloating, turmeric is anti-spasmodic,helping to prevent the gut from cramping.”
Aniseed helps to stimulate digestion and clear the digestive system, relieving abdominal pain, flatulence and bloating. It is also an effective anti-spasmodic, relaxing the muscles of the digestive tract to help prevent the gut from cramping.
Fennel like aniseed, fennel helps stimulate digestion and clear the digestive system. It is also a strong anti-inflammatory.
Cardamom helps to naturally boost metabolism and increase circulation in the body, helping to relieve that bloated feeling. It is also an effective decongestant and helps to soothe indigestion and flatulence.
Pole also recommends seasoning your food with these spices, or drinking them in the form of herbal teas. In addition, Pole advises eating your main meal between 12pm and 2pm, “when your digestive system works the best”.
Eating a big meal in the evening “will only tax your digestive system” and could leave you with a painful, bloated stomach or gut cramps. Also try to eat “intuitively” and just when you are hungry, as this is a sign your previous meal has been digested. “Poor digestion is a common ailment in modern society, particularly after an overindulgent festive season.
Nutritive food protects health and prevents disease. It is as simple as that. Despite there being a surplus of food quantity in western culture, there has been a decline in food quality. For example, in the last 50 years, the UK has seen a significant fall in fresh fruit consumption. It can be argued that our shift in nutritional habits over the last decade has had a negative impact on society’s health with up to 60% of hospital admissions displaying nutritional deficiencies.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, organically grown food has been shown to have higher levels of nutrients and anti-oxidants than non-organic products and is one easy way to boost our digestive wellbeing. But, Ayurveda also has strong traditions relating to the health of the digestive tract which could really help us survive the modern diet trends.
Ayurveda could be called the ‘science of digestion’. It believes that faulty digestion is the cause of most diseases. Certainly, the majority of patients presenting in my clinic have some form of digestive disorder. However good your diet is, if your digestion is impaired then you cannot absorb the appropriate nutrients required for nourishment. This ultimately causes the depletion of the entire system and results in disease. However, a good diet is essential too.
Ayurveda has a theory that anything can sometimes be a food, sometimes be a medicine or sometimes be a poison depending on ‘who’ is eating, ‘what’ is eaten, and ‘how much’ is eaten. For example, fresh ginger root is delicious in cooking as a food to flavour and help digestion. It is a stimulating medicine that can help clear a cold and induce a sweat when taken as a strong hot tea. However, if too much is taken it can make you sick causing acidity and vomiting, hence acting as a poison in the wrong circumstances. This refers to Ayurveda’s focus on the ‘quality’ of what we eat as well as the ‘quantitative’ nature of the food. So there is no strict ‘Ayurvedic diet’ per se, only sage recommendations to help you find the tastiest and healthiest diet for your personal optimum health.
Generally speaking, Ayurveda considers that the most beneficial foods are rice, wheat, barley, mung beans, asparagus, grapes, pomegranates, ginger, ghee, milk and honey. These are all tonics to the tissues and digestion. It also generally recommends that it is best to avoid habitual use of heavy meats, cheeses, yoghurt, refined salt, processed foods, refined sugar, coffee, tomatoes, bananas, citrus fruits and black lentils. These can create stagnation and undigested toxins, the scourge of all of our health problems.
For bloated tummies we couldn’t recommend more Pukka’s Feel New Tea which is a combination of Aniseed, fennel seed, cardamom and turmeric to help calm and reset the digestive system.