There is nothing more uncomfortable than that bloated, puffy feeling in the belly. Of course, sometimes it is caused by indigestion – especially during the holiday season when we can not help but indulge in food! However, bloating can also be caused by celiac disease, a condition characterized by an intolerance to gluten found in foods like rye, wheat, and barley. It can also be a result of irritable bowel syndrome, a disorder of the digestive system marked by diarrhea and constipation. Other times, bloating can also be a product of a food intolerance.1 Women suffering from premenstrual syndrome may also feel unpleasantly bloated. Tired of feeling puffy and uncomfortable? Here are 7 natural ways to banish bloating.
1. Choose Food Wisely
Some foods have a reputation for causing intestinal gas. However, keep in mind that everyone is different. Food that causes gas in one person might not do so in another. Your best bet is to pay attention to your own body and how food impacts you.
- The stomach and small intestine are unable to fully digest some vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and beans. Instead, these veggies continue to your large intestine where they’re broken down by gut bacteria. The result is the creation of gas and that troublesome sensation in the tummy. If this happens to you, consider limiting or avoiding these vegetables.2
- Cut down on gas-producing fatty foods like cream sauces, fried meat, gravies, and rich pastries. Fatty foods can slow your digestion, giving food particles more time to ferment and produce gas.
- Two artificial sweeteners, mannitol and sorbitol, can also cause pesky bloating symptoms. Avoid these sugar substitutes by checking food labels before eating a product. Also keep in mind that some fruit juices, like pear and apple juice, naturally contain sorbitol.3
- Foods rich in fiber are not only excellent for your health, but can also aid in digestion. Examples include oats, raspberries, barley, and lentils. However, rapidly increasing your fiber intake can work against you and lead to gas. To avoid bloating, make an effort to slowly increase your fiber intake over a few weeks.
Despite the gas-producing potential of some nutritious foods, don’t be so quick to give up on them. The key is to eat smaller portions spaced out over time. As always, check in with your doctor before eliminating foods from your diet.4
2. Stop Swallowing Air
Remember when your parents used to tell you not to talk with your mouth full? It turns out that they were on to something after all. This habit will force you to swallow air and lead to bloating. It is also a good idea to give up carbonated drinks, avoid chewing gum, and eat with your mouth closed. Even the simple habit of sitting upright while you eat can make a huge difference.5
3. Spice It Up
Indigestion can directly cause bloating, which is why it’s important to boost your digestive system.6You might be surprised to learn that the aroma and taste of spices can do just that. Spices such as cumin, coriander, chili, turmeric, and peppercorn promote the secretion of bile acid, helping digest fats and carbohydrates. Ginger, chili, and peppercorn can also increase pancreatic trypsin, an enzyme that aids protein digestion. Aniseed, peppermint, fennel seed, and cinnamon have a reputation of minimizing gas. To incorporate these spices into your diet, add them to your favorite dinner or prepare a herbal tea to soothe that bloated belly.7
4. Find Out If You Are Intolerant
Often, bloating is a result of your body adversely reacting to certain food items. This is especially true if you have an intolerance to specific foods. If you are unsure about what you are intolerant to, keep a food diary. This is a simple record of what you eat and when you experience bloating. The usual suspects are wheat (gluten) and dairy products. Eating less or avoiding the foods that your body does not like can help ease bloating. Do not forget to check with your doctor before completely cutting out entire food groups.8
5. Ease Premenstrual Symptoms
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to suffer through that bloated, heavy feeling every time you get your period. A study found that consuming 200 mg of magnesium daily for two months reduced bloating. To top it off, it also helped with weight gain and breast tenderness.9 You can add natural sources of magnesium to your diet by noshing on green leafy vegetables, brown rice, bananas, avocados, soy products, and milk.10
Aromatherapy can also help ease PMS symptoms, reduce bloating, and decrease fluid retention. Simply add a blend of cypress (3 drops), chamomile (2 drops), and patchouli (2 drops) to a warm bath and have a relaxing soak for 15–20 minutes. You can also mix chamomile (6 drops), coriander (3 drops), patchouli (3 drops), and cypress (2 drops) oils in a carrier oil (2 ounces). Massage this mixture onto your abdomen for a soothing wave of relief.11
6. Try Ayurvedic Remedies
Turn to the ancient science of Ayurveda to get rid of bloating and gas. Ayurveda harnesses the power of spices and beneficial plants through specific remedies and methods.
- Make a warm compress using asafoetida, a substance full of volatile oils that can penetrate the skin and help ease indigestion. Dissolve the asafoetida in warm water. Steep a cloth pad in the water and apply to your stomach.12
- Along with asafoetida, you can also apply castor oil to the abdomen. This combination can provide relief and reduce indigestion.1314
- Steep dried ginger and ajwain in lime juice. Dry off and turn them into a powder. Add a little rock salt and drink a couple of grams with warm water to relieve sluggish digestion.
- Hingwaashtaka choorna and kumaari aasava are medicinal preparations that are often prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors to treat gas. The main ingredients in these herbal mixes are asafoetida and aloe vera, respectively.1516
7. Go For Yoga
The power of yoga may be able to lessen your bloating symptoms. A study looked at the impact of yoga on adolescents with irritable bowel syndrome. The participants learned basic yoga poses designed to regulate the abdomen and bowel. They then practiced these moves at home for four weeks. The structured program focused on abdominal breathing and included poses such as cat posture and intense abdominal twist. The study linked these moves to reduced bloating, decreased diarrhea, and lowered anxiety. To perform the cat posture, get down on all fours, round the back, and raise the belly. Next, arch the back, look upward, and curl back again like a cat. To do the intense abdominal twist, lie on your back with your arms spread like airplane wings. Next, roll your knees to the right and left.17
|↑1, ↑5, ↑8||Beat the bloat, National Health Service.|
|↑2||Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract, National Institutes of Health.|
|↑3||Bayless, Theodore M., and Anna Diehl. Advanced therapy in gastroenterology and liver disease. PMPH-USA, 2005.|
|↑4||Mayo Clinic on Digestive Health, 3rd Edition. RosettaBooks, 2014.|
|↑6||Indigestion (Dyspepsia), National Institutes of Health.|
|↑7||Dog, Tieraona Low. “A reason to season: the therapeutic benefits of spices and culinary herbs.” Explore: the journal of science and healing 2, no. 5 (2006): 446-449.|
|↑9||Walker, Ann F., Miriam C. De Souza, Michael F. Vickers, Savitri Abeyasekera, Marilyn L. Collins, and Luzia A. Trinca. “Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention.” Journal of Women’s Health 7, no. 9 (1998): 1157-1165.|
|↑10||Magnesium in diet, National Institutes of Health.|
|↑11||Wilson, Roberta. Aromatherapy: essential oils for vibrant health and beauty. Penguin, 2002.|
|↑12||Johari, Harish. Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine. Inner Traditions, 2000.|
|↑13||Frawley, David. Ayurvedic healing: a comprehensive guide. Lotus Press, 2000.|
|↑14||Russell, David N., and Lynn Wiese Sneyd. Healthy Solutions: A Guide to Simple Healing and Healthy Wisdom. Basic Health Publications, Inc., 2006.|
|↑15||Manohar, Murli. Ayurveda for all. V&S Publishers, 2012.|
|↑16||Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: The Definitive Home Reference Guide to 550 Key Herbs with all their Uses as Remedies for Common Ailments. Dorling Kindersley, 2000.|
|↑17||Kuttner, Leora, Christine T. Chambers, Janine Hardial, David M. Israel, Kevan Jacobson, and Kathy Evans. “A randomized trial of yoga for adolescents with irritable bowel syndrome.” Pain Research and Management 11, no. 4 (2006): 217-224.|