Updated: May 11, 2020
I think everyone out there with a thyroid problem has experienced their stomach expanding around five times the size like a balloon after eating certain foods. I mean, I looked pregnant every time I ate grains! I used to have this EVERY time I ate a meal and I used to think that this was normal! Conventional doctors just label this as Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and tell you to just 'put up' with it. However, I have since learnt that IBS is just a blanket term that doctors use to label digestive problems that they can't diagnose! They also tell you that it is common and you are made to feel as if it is normal to live with. However, this is so WRONG. This is NOT NORMAL. We shouldn’t have to be bloating and in pain every time we eat! This is the body telling us that something is wrong. It is a massive sign from your body and you MUST pay attention and start listening to it.
Digestive troubles are seen in every case of any auto-immune disease. In order for an auto-immune disease to develop, 3 factors must be present, one of which is intestinal permeability aka ‘leaky gut’. Leaky gut is where the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, leading the tight junctions along the lining to open up. As a result, substances like food and harmful bacteria can then escape into the blood stream, where the immune system sees them as foreign invaders. This then starts an immune attack which then causes inflammation throughout the body. Certain factors that are said to trigger leaky gut are: gluten, food intolerances, mental stress, unsaturated fats, pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol and an overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria (gut dysbiosis).
Hashimoto’s and hypothyroid patients have low stomach acid, meaning that ‘bad’ bacteria is more likely to survive and overgrow in the gut. Patients with Hashimoto’s (and most autoimmune disorders) often have gut dysbiosis, which means that they have too much ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut, which leads to all sorts of digestive troubles and can exacerbate ‘leaky gut’ and allow this bacteria to leak into the blood stream.
All of these gut issues mentioned can then lead to or contribute to, gas and bloating. We can take steps to prevent gas and bloating from happening, and of course there will be times where perhaps you have had a stressful week, or you have eaten too many FODMAPs (I’ll explain more about these below) and it has inevitably happened. Therefore, I have put together my natural top tips for prevention, but also natural remedies that I have tried to ease the symptoms and to help relieve it quicker.
How to prevent gas and bloating naturally:
Remove all grains and refined sugar from the diet.
Reduce FODMAP foods - FODMAP stands for ‘fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols’. Basically, these are foods that are not completely absorbed by the human body, they sit around longer in your gut and ferment - leading to bacteria to feed off them which then releases gas. Examples of FODMAPs are onions, cauliflower, apples, all dairy products and legumes. I find that I can eat certain FODMAPs, but I can’t eat too many of them. If you feel like you have had a reaction, have a break for a couple of days, and then go back to them. Usually that works for me.
Drink tons of water throughout the day (make sure this is pure, filtered water). This helps prevent constipation.
Drink hot water and lemon on an empty stomach first thing in the morning to set the digestive system up for the day and to raise stomach acid levels.
Drink 500 ml of pure organic celery juice every day on an empty stomach. Anthony William (aka Medical Medium), author of 'Thyroid Healing' and 'Celery Juice' swears by 16oz of neat celery juice daily on an empty stomach. He claims that it revives your liver and destroys any bacteria, pathogens and heavy metals that are responsible for digestive upset leading to gas and bloating. The best time to have it is as soon as you get up in the morning. Do not mix the celery with anything else, otherwise it will lose its healing properties. Leave at least 20 minutes before you have breakfast.
Don’t drink during meals otherwise you might dilute your stomach acid.
Drink ginger tea before a meal. This increases stomach acid levels in order to aid digestion.
Take digestive enzymes with all meals to ensure you are digesting all food properly. The majority of people with Hashimoto's and thyroid problems do not produce adequate digestive enzymes, which then leads to nutritional deficiencies.
Take HCL + Pepsin supplements with protein-heavy meals. This increases stomach acid levels and helps to break down and digest protein. This prevents larger particles of protein travelling down into the gut and fermenting there, causing gas.
Take Saccharomyces boulardii daily. Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast which helps to kill off candida and other gut infections which contribute to gas and bloating.
Take probiotics containing Lactobacillus daily. This helps to restore balance in your gut bacteria. Those with Hashimoto's will generally need a high dose in order for it to have any effect at all. Dr Izabella Wentz suggests starting with 50 billion colony units, and then working your way up to higher doses. This introduction of good bacteria will gradually decrease the amount of bad bacteria and therefore improve unpleasant digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating.
Take 5 deep ‘belly’ breaths before you eat each meal.
Eat & chew food SLOWLY. Digestion starts in the mouth. The slower you eat, the more you chew and therefore you are starting the digestive process off well. Essentially, by chewing your food properly, you are giving the stomach less work to do. I can't convey enough how incredibly important this is for me personally.
Eat in a RELAXED STATE (not in front of your desk whilst working!!). In order for your body to be in 'rest and digest' mode, you absolutely have to be relaxed! Try being mindful and actually focus on what you are eating. Take your attention away from phones, tablets and screens whilst you eat. This is another key tip for me, and has made such a difference to my digestion.
If it is too late, and you are already suffering from symptoms, then please try out some of my natural tips to relieve gas and bloating below:
How to relieve gas and bloating naturally:
Peppermint tea - wait at least 30mins - 1 hour after eating (don’t drink too soon after eating otherwise you may dilute stomach acid).
Peppermint essential oil - rub peppermint essential oil diluted with a carrier oil (like coconut oil) on stomach and lower abdomen straight after you’ve eaten.
Go for a gentle walk after your meal (walk slowly otherwise you could exacerbate it).
Do 'apanasana' yoga pose (Knees Hugged into Chest). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzTrddYD1RU
Take 5 deep ‘belly’ breaths to get you into ‘rest and digest’ mode.