Want to know the best bloating remedies?
Address the root cause.
While we wish that a tea or tincture could cure a bloated belly, most one-step supplements offer just temporary relief. The only way to truly solve that chronic bloated feeling is to figure out why it happens to you as a unique individual, and then adjust your lifestyle and diet accordingly.
In this article, we’ll first explain what bloating really is, and if you should be concerned (sneak peek: it’s not just feeling full). Next, we’ll walk you through the three “tiers” of curing chronic bloating.
We suggest spending about two weeks in each bloating remedies tier, and progress onto the next one if bloating does not resolve. As you can see, it takes time and patience to fix bloating, but we promise you that life is much better without abdominal pain, distention, and awkward gassiness.
Table of Contents
- Why am I Bloated?
- Bloating Remedies Tier 1: Lifestyle Management
- Bloating Remedies Tier 2: Dietary Modification for Bloating
- Bloating Remedies Tier 3: Test and Treat
Why am I Bloated?
Imagine that your abdomen is filled with an inflated balloon. With that balloon comes serious discomfort, which is often painful. You pass (a lot of) gas. Your stomach is likely distended and painful.
However, this is not just a Thanksgiving food baby. It happens every day, and it occurs after standard-sized meals or even small snacks. This feeling is abdominal bloating.
While it’s not normal, it’s extremely common. It usually happens when gas gets “stuck” in the intestines. This can be caused by a number of potential culprits, and it varies from person to person. Let’s start with the lowest-hanging fruit to help relieve bloating, which are the three reasons for bloating that we see the most often.
Bloating Remedies Tier 1: Lifestyle Management
Eat small, frequent meals.
This one is pretty straightforward: large volumes of food are difficult to digest. Your empty stomach is about the size of a fist. While it can stretch significantly, main meals should be no bigger than two fists so as not to put pressure on the abdomen and overload the rest of your digestive system. While some people can tolerate larger portion sizes, those who are prone to gas and bloating tend to be more sensitive to food volume.
In particular, dietary fat slows down gastric emptying, which can contribute to bloating. Try evenly distributing fat among five to six meals. If you are eating a high-fat diet, you might want to experiment with replacing some of your fat intake with carbohydrates or protein.
Don’t swallow air & gas.
This involves changing not only what you consume, but how you consume it.
When it comes to beverages, carbonated drinks are a major bloating trigger. The little bubbles in your seltzer, soda or beer become air pockets in your abdomen. Also, sipping through a straw can cause you to swallow extra air, which has a similar effect. Save your belly (and the turtles) by ditching the straw and opting for flat beverages instead.
Chewing gum can also lead to extra air being swallowed, so you might want to break that habit. On the flipside, thoroughly chewing the food that you eat can reduce bloating. Chewing helps break down food mechanically and triggers the release of digestive enzymes, which aids in the chemical digestive process.
One simple way to increase your chewing time is by putting your fork down in between bites to set a slower pace. We also recommend adding a “crunch” to more liquid foods to guarantee chewiness. For example, top off a smoothie bowl with granola or add crackers to a soup.
Yup, this isn’t the sexiest topic to talk about, but it’s extremely important. Constipation is directly linked to bloating because it means that stool is sitting in your colon for a longer period. This gives bacteria plenty of time to ferment it, which produces a buildup of gas.
Constipation occurs when we experience bowel movements that are hard to pass or happen less than normal. For some people, this can mean going just one day without a bowel movement; for others, be a week or more. Regardless, you know that you’re constipated when you’re straining to go, having hard or small stools, and feel as though everything didn’t come out.
Luckily, most people can prevent constipation from occurring by doing four things. First, monitor your fiber intake. You want to aim for at least 25g of fiber daily (35g for men), but you should increase the amount slowly to give your digestive system time to adapt.
Keep fiber intake consistent to help ensure regularity with bowel movements. Also, make sure that about one-fourth of your fiber is soluble. Most soluble fiber is viscous, so it binds with water to form a gel. This makes your stools larger and softer. Oats, bran, barley, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, and sweet potatoes are all great sources of soluble fiber.
Secondly, make sure that you’re drinking enough fluids. As we just explained, soluble fiber needs water in order to work effectively. Thirdly, exercise regularly. Physical activity shortens intestinal transit time. This reduces the amount of water absorbed from the stool and helps move things along. Fourth, schedule your bathroom breaks. Yes, you read that right. Stress can interfere with your ability to go, so choose a time of day that you will feel at ease and can stick to it.
Bloating Remedies Tier 2: Dietary Modification for Bloating
So, it’s two weeks later, you’ve tried all of the above, but to no avail. It’s probably time to explore your diet. For each of the following, try cutting out just one of the suspected culprits at a time. You want to isolate each variable so that you know exactly what foods you need to avoid, if any.
Avoid sugar alcohols.
Sugar alcohols are, as their name suggests, a hybrid of sugar and alcohol molecules. While they do not make you drunk, they can make you bloated. This is because they are not entirely absorbed in the digestive tract, so gas is produced as the remaining components are fermented.
Some sugar alcohols are found naturally in produce, but most are made in a lab. They are often used as sweeteners in diet foods and chewing gum because they contain fewer calories than regular sugar. An easy way to spot them is to look for ingredients that end in “-ol”. Mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol are some of the most common sugar alcohols.
Raffinose is a complex sugar that is difficult to digest. That is because humans lack the enzyme needed to break it down. As a result, it passes into the large intestine, where bacteria ferment it and produce gas, which leads to bloating.
Legumes such as beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts are rich sources of raffinose. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage also contain high amounts.
For some people, soaking beans and thoroughly cooking cruciferous vegetables can help make raffinose-rich foods more tolerable. However, others might need to eliminate them entirely.
Rule out intolerances.
We made this vague for a reason: individual tolerances vary! The most common intolerance is lactose, which is found in people who have low levels of the enzyme lactase. Intolerances are also not always black and white; they might be influenced by the quality and quantity of the food.
For example, even people who are lactose intolerant can successfully digest small amounts of dairy. The best way to figure out what your individual intolerances are is to keep a food journal, note symptoms, and look for patterns.
Bloating Remedies Tier 3: Test and Treat
If you’ve made it this far and bloating persists, then you probably need to hire a health professional who specializes in digestive disorders. A registered dietitian, gastroenterologist, or a doctor who practices functional medicine are all great options.
Test for SIBO
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is when someone has an abnormally large population of bacteria in their small intestine. These bacteria interfere with normal digestion and absorption of food, and they can damage the lining of the gut.
SIBO often occurs alongside other IBS symptoms such as abdominal cramping, constipation, and/or diarrhea. Since the small intestine is hard to access, there is no perfect test. A breath test is usually the first diagnostic tool, and results may be validated with a blood test. Treatment usually includes a specialized diet and supplement protocol, and it may or may not involve antibiotics.
Address your microbiome
The microbiome is the community of microbes (bacteria, viruses and fungi) that reside in your GI tract. There are trillions of microorganisms that live inside your gut, and the scientific understanding of this complex ecological system is still quite limited.
However, we do know that an imbalance can lead to uncomfortable GI symptoms, including bloating. This condition is often referred to as dysbiosis, and it is usually identified from a stool analysis. The treatment protocol usually involves the “Four-R” approach: remove, replace, repair, and re-inoculate.
Try low FODMAP
Fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAP) are carbohydrates found in many foods. These compounds may trigger bloating and other GI symptoms in certain individuals by promoting fermentation. Unfortunately, many nutritious foods are high in FODMAPs. A low FODMAP diet involves eliminating these foods and seeing if symptoms subside. If conditions improve, these foods are gradually re-introduced as tolerated.
If you’ve read up to this point, then congrats! You’ve unlocked our secret stash of natural soothers for bloating. For your own home bloating remedies, we recommend brewing peppermint or chamomile tea if you’re in need of immediate comfort. Our other favorite supplements include anise, caraway, coriander, fennel, and turmeric.
Remember, figuring out and fixing the root cause is the only bloating remedy that actually works. Work your way through this list of bloating remedies and you should start to feel more comfortable. However, it might be a long process, so it’s okay to ease some discomfort along the way.
- Bloating and Abdominal Distension: Old Misconceptions and Current Knowledge
- Bloating and Abdominal Distension: Clinical Approach and Management
- Understanding Bloating and Distension
- Bloating: Causes and Prevention Tips
- Feeling Bloated Again? Here Are 10 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Bloating
- Gas: Beat The Bloat
Written by Uplift Coach Anya Rosen