Once you've determined that your chronic bloating isn't a result of PMS, a quick Google search will likely land you on a page about gut health. Put simply, if you often feel bloated, gaseous, constipated, or just plain uncomfortable in your own skin, there may be an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your stomach—a condition that an estimated 70 million Americans suffer from on a daily basis.
The good news is, you can actually heal your gut in a fairly short amount of time. "We know from studies that the gut microbiome can begin to reset itself just within a few days when you eat the right types of foods," explains Vincent M. Pedre, MD, for Mindbodygreen. "When you indulge too much on sweets, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and simple carbs, you promote the growth of unfavorable [bacteria]." Before you get overwhelmed, remember that it just takes three steps to reset your gut. Here's exactly what to do:
1. Find out if you have food sensitivities. Gluten and dairy are the two biggest culprits when it comes to digestive issues. Susan Blum, MD, MPH, recommends removing both from your diet for three weeks and then reintroducing each one, four days apart. This will help you determine the irritant.
2. Drink hot water with lemon every morning. According to Pedre, this simple ritual will wake up your digestive system, stimulate stomach acid production, and prepare your liver for the day ahead. It's like a palette cleanser for your gut.
3. Eat cultured foods every day. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchee are all filled with balancing probiotics—they essentially promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. If these foods aren't your cup of tea, consider taking a supplement instead.
For more on gut health, read up on the inflammatory foods a doctor always avoids.