Beat the Bloat
We all have experienced that swollen feeling after eating too much, leaving us in pain and with a larger looking stomach. That feeling is known as bloating, which occurs to many men and women of all ages across the US (1). Bloating occurs when you have too much gas in your digestive tract, causing your gut to swell and tighten.
There are many different things that may cause bloating, from bacterial imbalances to food allergies to talking too much while you eat. You can learn more about what causes bloating here! Once we understand what can cause bloating, the next question we face is obvious… how do we reduce bloating? While there is no magic pill or fix, there are several things we can do immediately to help reduce bloating.
Top 10 Ways To Reduce Bloating
You might be rushing to try to fit into a pair of pants for a family event, or you’re just curled up on the couch, laying in discomfort. Whichever way it might be, you don’t want your bloat to ruin the rest of your day. Let’s dive into the top 10 ways to reduce bloating and see if you can give any of them a try!
Drink Fewer Carbonated Drinks
Whether it be your favorite fizzy soda or some healthy sparkling water, it might be for the best to have a drink without all those bubbles. Yes, I know, those bubbles are just so fun to gulp down, but they can also be the reason you feel bloated. Those bubbles get trapped in your digestive tract and create excess gas, causing you to feel discomfort and bloated. We’re not saying that you can never have a fizzy drink, but try to lessen the amount of carbonated drinks to reduce bloating!
Don’t Overeat or Eat Too Fast
Even though that home cooked meal or those fast food french fries seem so appetizing, resist the urge to overeat! It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full (2), so you could be unintentionally overeating! Overeating causes your gut to swell due to the excess food that causes your stomach to expand.
One way to help avoid this is by slowing down your eating process. This includes chewing your food more, as well as pausing in between bites. By chewing more, it helps slow your eating process down, as well as reduce any air that you might swallow as you eat (3). You might swallow excess air if you are eating too fast or if you’re chatting too much while you eat. Swallowing excess air traps that air inside your digestive tract, causing you to bloat. Try smaller portions and eating slow to help reduce bloating.
Be Careful of Food Intolerances
This one is a bit tricky, as you might not even know that you have a food allergy! Some people have food intolerances, meaning their bodies cannot digest certain foods properly, potentially causing a multitude of problems. A couple of the more common food intolerances are lactose intolerance (4) and gluten intolerance (5). The good news is that there are enzyme supplements that you can take to help your body deal with those food intolerances. There are lactase enzymes for those who are lactose intolerant, providing your body with the right lactase enzyme to break down certain dairy products (6).
Boost Your Fiber Intake
Believe it or not, the average American is consuming less than half of their recommended daily intake of fiber (7)! Fiber helps our digestive tract move things “out” properly, so it’s crucial to be getting enough fiber to help your body with that. Whether you’re consuming prebiotic fiber-filled foods, like healthy protein powders and coffee creamers (8) or eating more apples (9), the right amount of fiber will help reduce bloating and relieve constipation!
Keep Up Your Probiotics
Probiotic has been the buzzword for a whiles now… and for a good reason! Our gut contains trillions of living bacteria, many of them good, some of them bad. Those good bacteria help with nutrient absorption, proper digestion, prevent digestive illnesses, etc. Probiotics are good bacteria that can be consumed and help improve the balance of bacteria in your gut flora. Some studies have linked probiotics to reduced gas and bloating (10, 11), on top of the many other health benefits that they help bolster! Try to eat foods that contain probiotics, or take probiotic supplements, to help reduce bloating!
Watch Out For Gassy Foods
Although many foods have their ups about them, they also can have some downsides! Foods like beans, broccoli, cauliflower, etc., all produce excess gas when our bodies break them down in our digestive tracts. This excess gas gets trapped and swells our gut, leaving us feeling bloated. Try to limit the amount you eat when it comes to fatty foods, legumes, carbonated drinks, etc.
Consume Fewer Sugar Alcohols
Ever since the advent of “sugar-free” foods and drinks, sugar alcohols (sweeteners) have grown in popularity. When eaten in excess, these sweeteners can cause excess gas to form when being digested (12). Some sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharine, etc., have been swimming in controversial waters on whether or not they are completely safe for you (13). However, new sweeteners have been emerging in the market, such as allulose, erythritol, etc., that are healthy alternatives and don’t create as much excess gas! Be conscious and try to consume fewer artificial sweeteners and help reduce your bloat!
Increase Physical Activity
By now, everyone knows how great physical activity is for our bodies. Just getting up off the couch and going for an hour walk, increasing your heart rate and getting your blood pumping… the health benefits are truly endless! Just one of those health benefits is reduced bloating, as studies have linked increased physical activity to reduced bloating (14, 15). The movements of your body and its muscles help get things moving in your digestive tract, especially reducing gas, which help reduce bloating!
Give Low-FODMAP Foods a Go
FODMAP, which stands for “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols”, are fermentable carbohydrates that have been highly associated with bloating gas. People with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, have been advised to try a food diet that is low in FODMAPs. You can dive deeper into this subject here and learn more about the specifics of a low-FODMAP diet! One thing is for certain, try giving a low-FODMAP diet a go to help reduce bloating!
Try Peppermint & Ginger Tea
Going back centuries, both peppermint and ginger have been used throughout different cultures to help alleviate stomach pains. Ginger has been linked to certain anti-inflammatory properties (16), which helps with reducing your stomach swelling. Peppermint has also been seen to soothe stomach muscles, which would help things to move along in your digestive tract (17). Try brewing yourself a cup of peppermint and/or ginger tea to help reduce bloating!