How to Reduce Bloating With These Top Tips
Bloating happens when your abdomen becomes full of gas, causing it to distend. Many of us are familiar with the unpleasant feeling of a bloated stomach, which causes us to spend the next few hours suffering from stomach pains and increased flatulence. Not to mention the uncomfortable expanding waistline that means we have to unbutton our jeans. Bloating is a widespread digestive problem, affecting approximately 16-31% of the population. Whilst it often goes away after time, surely there must be a way to reduce bloating?
The answer is: Yes, there is! There are several things that you can do to reduce or prevent bloating. In this article, find out what causes excessive amounts of gas in the stomach and how to reduce bloating.
What Causes Bloating?
Bloating can be caused by several factors that lead to increased gas production in your digestive tract. These include:
- Swallowing too much air as you eat
- Gases released from the fermentation of food in your gut
- Eating certain foods. Salt, fat and sugar are known to cause bloating
- Eating too much or too fast
- Digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances and constipation
- The menstrual cycle
How to Reduce Bloating?
1. Avoid Food that Causes Bloating
Foods that cause bloating can vary from person to person. Keeping a food diary can be very helpful to help you understand what your triggers are, so you can adapt your diet to stop bloating.
Gas is a natural by-product of digestion. However, some foods produce more gas than others. Foods that contain difficult to digest compounds, such as certain fibres and sugars, travel to the large intestine, where bacteria ferment them. This fermentation process produces large amounts of gas. The result? A bloated stomach. Common food and drinks that are difficult to digest and may trigger bloating include:
- Cruciferous Vegetables
- Dairy products
- Carbonated Drinks
- Beer and other Sugary Alcohol
- Artificial sweeteners
Avoiding foods high in salt and fat can also help reduce bloating, as salt causes water retention and fat slows digestion.
A well-known cause of bloating for many people is a particular type of short-chain carbohydrate resistant to digestion, called FODMAPs. These are found in many foods such as wheat, dairy and fruits. Sensitivity to FODMAPs differs from person to person, but people with digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), are often especially intolerant. Multiple studies have found that reducing the amount of FODMAPs in the diet can stop bloating and improve other symptoms of IBS.
Food intolerances are another cause of bloating, a common one being lactose intolerance. Dairy products such as milk contain a sugar called lactose, which is broken down by an enzyme in your body called lactase. If you don’t produce enough of this critical enzyme, your body will find it difficult to digest lactose, resulting in stomach discomfort and bloating.
2. Eat Food that Reduces Bloating
Whilst some foods trigger bloating, several foods reduce bloating.
For example, yoghurt contains probiotics that help support a healthy gut, promote regular bowel movements and have been shown to reduce bloating in people with IBS. Avocados contain high amounts of potassium, which helps prevent water retention, and are high in fibre to avoid constipation. And ginger can help soothe nausea and improve digestion.
Other examples of food that can reduce bloating includes:
- Meat, poultry, fish
- Gluten-free bread
- Rice bread
3. Avoid swallowing air
Avoid swallowing air when you eat, as this only adds to the concoction of gas in your gut. You can do this by eating slower and not with your mouth open – your dining partner will also appreciate this. It is also best to avoid chewing gum and limiting your fizzy drinks intake.
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is one of the best ways to expel excess gas, improve digestion, and relieve bloating discomfort. It also helps support regular bowel movements to prevent constipation, a common cause of bloating. According to one study, light exercise following a meal can be especially beneficial for preventing bloating and aiding digestion. Don’t worry, we aren’t suggesting you go for a run after your dinner, but more of a gentle ten-minute stroll.
Smaller portions Limiting your portion sizes can help stop bloating, as the more food in your gut is digested, the more gas will be produced. Large portions may also stretch your stomach, creating a larger space for collecting gases and solids. Unless you are prepared to suffer the consequences, limiting your intake of foods likely to cause bloating is especially important. Eating little and often is best for avoiding bloating.
Bloating is a common by-product of digestion that usually goes away. However, if you suffer from excessive bloating often and experience much discomfort, it might be good to look at your diet and find the root of the cause. Eating a healthy diet rich in foods that reduce bloating, exercising regularly and limiting your intake of salty, fatty or sugary foods can help stop bloating.