5 Natural Remedies for Bloating
These are some of the most common reasons for an uncomfortable, gassy stomach—plus easy ways to feel better without medication.
Bloating is normal
While bloating may be common, it is never enjoyable. Bloating happens when your gastrointestinal tract is filled with air or gas, and can make you feel overly stuffed. Not only can it be uncomfortable, but you may notice physical signs as well, including a swollen or misshapen belly.
The good news? According to Abby Langer, a registered dietitian in Toronto, not all bloating is bad. Often, she explains, bloating simply means your gut and intestinal bacteria are feasting. Your stomach should not feel hard, and you should not be experiencing severe pain (if you’re experiencing those symptoms, see a doctor—it could be a warning sign).
“Bloating itself is normal after eating,” she says. “But if it’s accompanied by gas, cramps or gastrointestinal symptoms, then it becomes problematic.” Here are five common reasons why bloating happens, and some natural, easy remedies you can use to help keep it at bay.
You ate bell peppers or broccoli
Do you usually load up your plate with a heaping pile of veggies? One of the more common reasons for bloating is that you’ve eaten gas-producing foods such as bell peppers, broccoli, legumes or other cruciferous vegetables—a diverse group of veggies that are rich in fiber and low in calories.
That doesn’t mean you should leave the veggies off your plate. “You may want to eat fewer at one time — but definitely don’t stop eating them,” says Langer. “Because, again, bloating can be a good sign that the bugs in our gut are having a party.”
You can curb the worst of your veggie bloating by drinking between six and eight 250ml glasses of water throughout the day and cutting down on any added salt, which causes water retention and will only add to the bloating.
Your skinny vanilla latte
You don’t need to give up your morning coffee, but if you’re prone to ordering the “skinny” version of drinks, or consume coffee with sugar alcohols like mannitol or sorbitol, this may be the cause of your bloating.
“Sugar alcohols are very popular in the low carb community,” Langer says. Unfortunately, sugar alcohols like xylitol, lactitol and isomalt also cause bloating—and may be the reason that you’re starting off mornings filled with air or gas.
You can try drinking your coffee black—so long as you’re not typically sensitive to caffeine (in some studies, drinking coffee has been linked to gastrointestinal issues like bloating. Try keeping a journal of how you feel after your morning cup to see if it’s the culprit.)
Switching to tea is also on option, since it’s usually less acidic than coffee and has tons of health benefits.
Too much fiber, too fast
Fruits that are high in fiber can also cause bloating, Langer says. Some common offenders include apples, mangos bananas and strawberries. Many people experience unexpected bloating when they make healthy changes to their diet, thanks to a sudden influx of fiber.
When you more fiber than your body is used to, it can sit in your colon and ferment, which causes the bloating. On average, women need 25 grams of fibre per day and men need 38 grams of fibre per day, but most Canadians are only getting about half as much.
Just as you shouldn’t cut veggies out of your diet, don’t ditch the fruit—or your quest to increase your fiber intake. Go gradually, try a variety of fiber-rich foods and spread your intake across meals. And remember, drinking enough water throughout the day can help keep your bloating in check.
You’re stressed out
Stress and bloating can feel like being stuck in an endless loop. You’re stressed, so you’re bloated… and because you’re bloating, you’re stressed! “When we’re stressed out,” says Langer, “the brain tells the gut to slow down our digestion.”
That’s because the body is in a flight or fight response. When that happens, your gut isn’t contracting as often and food isn’t moving through your digestive system because your brain and body are focused on the stressor.
Defeating stress can be tricky—especially since we aren’t always outwardly aware we’re feeling that way. Maybe you’re on vacation to a warm, relaxing place, and yet the subconscious stress of travel means you’re both bloated and constipated. Miserable!
When you find yourself feeling too stressed and too bloated, try out these 10 helpful tips.
You love carbonated water
Many people love sparkling water as an alternative to flat water. In fact, the sparkling water industry is one of the fastest-growing non-alcoholic beverage categories. It can be a much healthier choice than certain indulgences, such as pop and alcohol, so it feels like a win.
But, “If you consume gas, you’re going to be having gas in your belly,” Langer says. Movement, whether it’s intense or gentle, can help move the gas through your system. Langer suggests getting up and going for a short walk, especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day.
Next, check out the best home remedies for constipation relief.