How to Deflate Endo Belly

July 31, 2023
Post Tags: endometriosis

Living with Endometriosis

Learn how to deflate endo belly – a common side effect of endometriosis. Today’s post is dedicated to all the endo warriors out there living with this chronic condition. Endometriosis is where the tissue of the uterine lining (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus, causing scarring, adhesions, and extreme pain. Unfortunately, many women with endometriosis live with pain not just during their periods but throughout their entire monthly cycle.

Understanding Endo Belly

One of the significant symptoms linked to endometriosis is the “endo belly” – significant abdominal distention or bloating. This bloating can be painful, and frustrating, and often affects the quality of life for those with endometriosis. Today, we’ll explore the causes of endo belly and some strategies to combat it.

Does Endo Belly Go Away?

As you’ll discover, there are many causes of this phenomenon. Tackling only one is unlikely to make as much of a dent in deflating endo belly as using a multi-pronged approach. Have a read-through of the causes below and pick a strategy that you feel you can implement today. Then, keep adding to it as and when you can. By focusing on the physical, mental, and microbiome aspects of endo belly, you’re in a much better position to see some serious improvement.

Why Does Endo Belly Happen?

  1. Inflammation: Endometrial tissue outside the uterus triggers an immune response, leading to fluid and gas accumulation, resulting in bloating. Diet and lifestyle are important drivers of inflammation, and they’re totally changeable too. Check out this post for how to manage inflammation by changing what you eat.
  2. Hormonal fluctuations: Higher-than-ideal levels of estrogen during the menstrual cycle cause fluid retention and slow down gut movement. This is not something you can directly influence. But improving the relative ratios of estrogen:progesterone can be done via some dietary changes.
  3. Changes in gut microbiome: Certain gut bugs can release free estrogen into the bloodstream, contributing to endometriosis and bloating. Research has shown that those with endometriosis may have less microbial diversity in their large intestine, leading to more bacteria that can activate estrogen, releasing it into the bloodstream. Taking care of your gut microbiome, primarily through a fibre-full diet encourages microbiome diversity and a lower amount of circulating estrogen. As a dietitian, fibre is my native language. I love helping my clients figure out how to reach their minimum 30g of fibre a day. Here are some suggestions so you can reach it too.
  4. Stress: Chronic stress leads to the release of cortisol, slowing gut movement and causing more gas and fluid buildup. Finding actionable strategies that really reduce the signs of stress in our bodies are going to be the most useful here. Unless you go ahead and quit your stressful job!
  5. Slow-moving gut: Hormonal fluctuations can affect the coordinated movement of the intestines, leading to pressure and constipation. I mentioned the flux of estrogen and progesterone above. Activities that get the gut moving – like walking, stretches, gut massage can help deflate the endo belly.
  6. Increased gut sensitivity: Extra estrogen can amplify the feeling of being bloated, leading to increased discomfort. So not only are you bloated, but your brain takes the signal from the extra estrogen floating in your large intestine, basically YELLING that you are bloated. Which makes the situation feel even worse.
  7. Mechanical causes: Improper diaphragm movement can result in a bloated appearance as well. Usually, our diaphragm relaxes when we breathe in, so our abdomen can fill with air. It contracts again when we exhale. For those who live with chronic abdominal pain – like in endo, with coeliac disease, with IBS – the brain can subconsciously relax the diaphragm to try to lessen the pain, resulting in a protruding tummy. Becoming aware of this can rectify the reflex over time.

How Do You Get Rid of Endo Belly?

  1. Avoid certain foods like artificial sweeteners, smoothies, and fermented foods. All these can contribute to gas and bloating. Here’s a bit more info on each:
    • First up artificial sweeteners. These not only reduce the diversity of your gut bugs and therefore make way for more estrogen to be freed, but they also make your belly produce more gas, which gets trapped, making bloating worse. 
    • Secondly, I’d avoid smoothies and fruit juices choosing the whole food instead. Smoothies can have a bit of a health halo attached to them. So this recommendation might come as a surprise to some. In general, having the odd smoothie is okay for most people. However, they can also increase the amount of gas produced. And since we’re trying to reduce bloating choosing the whole food, like an apple over apple juice is a simple step in the right direction. 
    • Generally, fermented food is awesome. If you love a good kombucha or kefir, kimchi, or ‘kraut, that’s fine, but this can also cause more gas to be produced. So if you are experiencing bloating, I would halve your intake for a couple of weeks to see if anything changes for the better. And then continue having smaller portions. Of course, this is not a relevant suggestion if you’re not currently eating fermented products. 
  2. Make lifestyle changes, one at a time.
    • Chew your food. Look, it sounds silly, but we often forget. I say to my clients, chew until your food is liquid and try putting down your utensils every now and then. Practice this. It doesn’t happen overnight but over time we’ll grow in our awareness. Chewing your food means it’s easier to digest, so that your guts don’t have to work overtime.
    • Get moving. A gentle walk or stretch can move food and gas through. Walking can also help reduce fluid buildup. 30 minutes per day is awesome, and three, 10-minute sessions a day is even better. 
    • Next, you could try peppermint oil, if you haven’t already. Peppermint oil has been shown to relax your gut muscles, which can help to get rid of gas. Peppermint oil works best in capsules. So if you want try 180 to 225 milligrams of peppermint oil up to three times per day, 30 minutes before meals on an empty stomach give it a go, and notice if you sense an improvement. 
    • Diaphragmatic breathing is the final thing, it can help train your diaphragm to relax so that your tummy doesn’t stick out. There are videos of how to breathe like this all over the internet, like this one. Aim for five minutes a day and over time, you’ll be a lot more aware when it’s happening subconsciously. 
  3. Explore more: Download this handout that has a total of 12 ways to deflate your endo belly.

Conclusion

Endo belly can be challenging to manage, but armed with the knowledge of its causes and the right strategies, you can improve your quality of life. If you want to know how to deal with endometriosis pain, naturally read on.

For more nutrition and hormone tips, visit Oh Goodness! Nutrition’s website ognutrition.co.nz, and follow us on Instagram at ohgoodness_nutrition. See you next time!

Written by Hannah Eriksen

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