10 Ways to Manage Bloating, Naturally

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10 Ways to Manage Bloating, Naturally

We’ve all had that feeling: your pants feel a bit tight and your belly feels a little too full. But you’re exercising and eating right, so what’s up with the bloating?

Bloating is usually caused by excessive production of gas or disruption in intestinal contractions, the movement of muscles that helps food pass through the digestive system. (1) It can cause pain, discomfort and that feeling of being “stuffed”. Sometimes it can even make you look like you have a bit of a pooch! (2)

Women tend to experience more bloating than men, usually exacerbated around the time of menstruation. (3)(4) Typically, bloating tends to worsen as the day progresses and after the ingestion of food, and is sometimes relieved by the passage of gas or stool. (5)

So how are you supposed to get rid of a bloated stomach? Understanding what causes bloating in the stomach is the first part in determining how to reduce it.

woman laying down on couch holding stomach

Abdominal bloating (and gas) are among the most common digestive complaints. The most common cause is excess gas in the digestive tract.

What causes bloating in the stomach?

The symptom of bloating is extremely common and has been experienced by most people at some stage in their lives. A population survey from 2000 reported that 16% of apparently healthy individuals experience bloating at least once a month, and bloating within the past 3 months was reported by 30% of respondents in the U.S. Householder’s survey. (3)(6)

Bloating usually happens when gas builds up in the digestive tract and you’re unable to expel it. Gas can be caused by: (7)

  • Overeating
  • Swallowing air while you eat or drink
  • Chewing gum
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Eating certain foods; such as spicy, fried, or fatty foods

Other causes of bloating include:

10 ways to get rid of a bloated stomach, naturally

Nobody likes the feeling of a bloated stomach! Here are some bloated stomach remedies.

1. Consume smaller meals more frequently

People who are prone to bloating might be a little more sensitive to larger volumes of food in their stomachs. For this reason, eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day can help to reduce stomach bloating. (13)

Additionally, this eating pattern can help to stabilize blood sugar levels and satisfy your appetite. It can also aid in a more efficient metabolism compared to a slower metabolism when meals are skipped. A more efficient metabolism allows your body to use carbohydrates, protein, and fat to properly fuel your body. (14)

2. Avoid swallowing air and gas

Swallowing air when eating or drinking can contribute to bloating. Carbonated beverages are a big culprit. Those carbonated bubbles are air pockets, and they can build up in your stomach resulting in bloating. (15)

Chewing gum or drinking through a straw can also lead to increased amounts of swallowed air. Thoroughly chewing your food can do double-duty. It can reduce the amount of air that you swallow with food, and it also makes you slow down your eating, which has been linked with smaller portions. (16)

3. Rule out any food intolerances

Eating foods that you are intolerant to can cause bloating. Common food intolerances include: (17)

  • Lactose – people who are lactose intolerant lack the ability to digest lactose (the sugar in milk) because of low levels of the enzyme lactase, which helps digest the sugar.
  • Gluten – there is still a lot of controversy as to whether gluten intolerance exists, but it is characterized by adverse reactions to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

4. Limit foods that give you gas

You know how the playground saying goes…’Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot’. Beans and other legumes such as peas and lentils are known to cause gas. They contain high amounts of a complex sugar called raffinose that the body has difficulty breaking down. They are also rich in fiber, and a sudden increase in fiber intake can cause gassiness.

A 2011 review found that people who ate black-eyed peas experienced less flatulence than those who ate pinto beans or baked beans. An important thing to note from this study is that after four weeks, flatulence levels for all the beans returned to normal as people adjusted to the increased fiber. (18)

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are also high in raffinose, so they can cause bloating. But they’re also part of a healthy diet as they are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Steaming these vegetables might help reduce some of the bloating. (19)

If certain foods make you feel bloated, try cutting back on your portion size.

view of a bean based stew with bread

Beans are a common food that triggers bloating. They contain raffinose, which is a complex sugar that is difficult for the body to digest.

5. Avoid constipation

Constipation can exacerbate bloated feelings. Common ways to ease constipation include: (8)

  • Increase your intake of soluble fiber – soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. When increasing fiber in your diet, make sure you do it slowly so your body can get used to it, otherwise it may worsen constipation.
  • Drink enough fluids – especially as you increase your fiber intake. Fluids also help you digest food and help keep your bowels regular. Fluids can include water, milk, coffee, tea, and broth-based soup.
  • Get active – aim for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. This equates to about 30 minutes 5 days a week. Don’t have 30 minutes? An activity can be accumulated in 10-minute bouts!
  • Schedule regular time to go to the bathroom – there’s nothing wrong with taking time for yourself, even if that means sneaking off to the bathroom. Making sure that you have enough time can help you have a bowel movement without stress. This will help your body get into a routine.

6. Be wary of sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols are commonly found in chewing gum and sugar-free foods. In some people, sugar alcohols can cause bloating because the sugar alcohol is not completely absorbed in the digestive system. This causes fermentation in the intestines, leading to gas and bloating.

Try avoiding sugar alcohols such as mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. The sugar erythritol is usually better tolerated, however, may cause digestive issues, including bloating, if taken in large doses. (20)

bowl of miso with a spoon

Probiotics, found naturally in fermented foods like yogurt, miso, and pickles can help reduce symptoms of gas and bloating.

7. Try probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria that, when eaten in the right amount, infer health benefits. Once in the colon, these bacteria multiply and help to keep a balance between the good and bad bacteria that live there. This can help reduce symptoms of gas and bloating. (21)

Probiotics can be found naturally in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha, and pickles.

8. Digestive enzyme supplements

Many problems with bloating come from our bodies not being able to properly digest certain foods. Over-the-counter supplemental enzymes can help break down and digest these foods.

Common supplements include:

  • Lactase: an enzyme that helps to break down the milk sugar lactose. This is useful for people with lactose intolerance.
  • Digestive enzymes: that help to digest complex carbohydrates found in foods such as beans, vegetables, and whole grains.

9. Peppermint oil

Another bloated stomach remedy is peppermint oil. It has muscle relaxing properties in the stomach and intestinal tract, and may also be able to speed up the early phase of digestion. (22)

10. Try a low FODMAP diet

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. These are carbohydrates found in certain foods that may trigger bloating and a number of other intestinal symptoms. (23)

The main principle of a low FODMAP diet is to replace sugars that are high FODMAPs (poorly digested sugars) with sugars that are low FODMAPs (more easily digested) to help relieve digestive symptoms. Once symptoms have improved, high FODMAP foods are gradually re-introduced into the diet to test for a tolerable intake. In general, FODMAPs are part of a healthy diet, thus a low FODMAP diet is not a forever diet. (23)

It is recommended that this diet is followed under the supervision of a qualified health professional.

When to see a doctor

Although not very common, bloating and abdominal swelling can be a sign of a severe medical condition. If bloating occurs alongside the following symptoms, it is advised that you seek medical advice: (24)

  • Changes in appetite or trouble eating
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Bright red stool
  • Black or dark maroon stool
  • Severe abdominal pain

The bottom line

Ultimately, what causes bloating in the stomach depends on the underlying cause. In most instances, bloating is due to minor issues and a few lifestyle changes or natural remedies will do the trick. Now you can get rid of a bloated stomach by following our 10-step guide for effortless, natural relief.

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