This week I experienced one of the most epic episodes of stomach bloat in my entire 30 years.
My belly had distended to the point that even my husband was concerned. Several people on our yoga course suspected that I must be pregnant. (I’m not yet—sorry, Mum.)
There is not a more helpless feeling, especially for those of us who make a conscious effort to eat mindfully, healthily and without over-indulgence as much as possible. Suffering intense or frequent bloating is also distressing for us yogis, as we are very in tune with our bodies and are extremely receptive as to how they are feeling.
Stress on the stomach leads to stress in the mind. There are neurons in the stomach that are linked directly to the brain. That’s why when we are stressed or nervous, we often feel tightening or sickness (or butterflies) in our tummy. Similarly, when our gut or intestines are under strain, we become extremely anxious.
Luckily, I am in India at the moment—the home of one of the most ancient medical sciences, Ayurveda. Naturally, there’s a world-renowned ayurvedic physician within two miles from me. I raced to him as fast as my Buddha belly would allow.
He recommended the following three remedies to beat the bloat:
1. Saffron, almond and date-infused milk
Combine one glass (250mL) of milk, four dates, six almonds (without the rusk) and six petals of saffron in a pot. Bring this to a boil three times (as in let it boil, take it off the heat, then let it boil again, so that it is literally three times boiled).
This is best to drink on an empty stomach, or before bed. The purpose of the drink is to soothe the stomach, aid digestion and aid blood flow.
For all those vegans out there, try this with your milk of choice, as coconut, nut milks or soy will still have a lovely cooling effect on your hardworking tum.
2. Fennel and cumin seed roast
Roast whole fennel seeds and cumin seeds (at whichever quantity you prefer, just as long as there is equal amount of both) in a pan. When cool, grind these into a powder.
Place this delicious spice powder in a baggie you can carry around with you. The ayurvedic physician recommends that this be ingested twice a day (especially after meals) as an anti-flatulence aid, an antacid and a digestive aid.
3. Cumin seed and lemon roast
Dry roast cumin seeds in a pan. Add a little salt, then add a few drops of lemon (to taste). Instead of grinding these, keep them as whole seeds and consume as a little snack either before meals, after meals or anywhere in between. Not only are you getting all of the other benefits of cumin, you’re giving your digestive system some serious love, allowing food to pass through the body without creating air and blockages.
After trying these out and continuing to eat mindfully, my tummy is beginning to smile once again and no longer looks like a balloon at a birthday party. A happy ending to this story, thanks to natural remedies—hooray!