Bloating is one of the most common complaints I hear about from my clients and they are always requesting tips to beat bloating. Even those without other digestive complains often reference longstanding issues with bloating. Bloating simply refers to distention in the abdomen, and although it can be very uncomfortable it is typically completely normal. Common triggers of bloating include having a large meal, stress, travel, chewing gum, using straws and smoking.
Bloating is also one of the primary complaints associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Mild bloating can be part of normal digestion, but when bloating becomes debilitating it can be a sign of a greater health concern. Other health complaints associated with bloating include food intolerances, celiac disease, GI infections and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). If you are experiencing significant bloating, particularly alongside other concerning symptoms such as weight loss, blood in your stool, loss of appetite and ongoing diarrhea you should speak to your family physician.
Nutrition tips to beat bloating:
- Eating protein, fat, and fibre at each meal prevents overeating by providing more filling food.
- Incorporating soluble fibre and water into your day works against constipation and bloating.
- Decreasing your carbonated beverages, as they release carbon dioxide gas and cause bloating.
- Eating slower encourages chewing thoroughly and can prevent overeating and overwhelming digestion.
- Lowering the salt in your diet can ease bloating. Salt retains fluid and can expand your digestive tract volume.
- Smaller, more frequent meals prevents overeating.
- Limiting excessive caffeine and alcohol, cruciferous (gassy) vegetables including broccoli, onion, asparagus and Brussels sprouts, spicy and fatty foods.
Lifestyle tips to beat bloating:
- Exercising regularly helps to regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation.
- Sleeping enough can help prevent overeating, which can contribute to bloating.
- Managing stress is preventive for bloating because stress is linked to bloating symptoms.
- Hypnotherapy has been proven to regulate bowel movements and decrease bloating with IBS.
- Avoid overly tight clothing which can interfere with digestion.
Other tips to beat bloating:
- Improving gut health can improve digestion.
- Peppermint oil may help with reducing stomach pain and bloating by relaxing the muscles in the bowel wall.
- Kiwifruit extract helps to decrease constipation and therefore bloating and gas due to its ability to promote laxation and gastric motility.
- Probiotics can help with reducing bloating, although this is not effective for everyone and can take some experimenting. Talk to a gut health dietitian about which probiotic strains may be beneficial!
- Ground flaxseed can help manage gas and bloating. Work your way up to 2 Tbsp/day gradually.
I always recommend making changes one at a time so that you can see what actually helps. Seek support from your doctor if bloating is ongoing or severe, and from a gut health dietitian if you are struggling to identify or manage your dietary triggers.
- Alammar, N., Wang, L., Saberi, B., Nanavati, J., Holtmann, G., Shinohara, R. T., & Mullin, G. E. (2019). The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6337770/
- Foley A, Burgell R, Barrett JS, Gibson PR. Management strategies for abdominal bloating and distension. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2014;10(9):561-571. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991532/
- Hungin, A., Mitchell, C. R., Whorwell, P., Mulligan, C., Cole, O., Agréus, L., Fracasso, P., Lionis, C., Mendive, J., Philippart de Foy, J. M., Seifert, B., Wensaas, K. A., Winchester, C., de Wit, N., & European Society for Primary Care Gastroenterology (2018). Systematic review: probiotics in the management of lower gastrointestinal symptoms – an updated evidence-based international consensus. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 47(8), 1054–1070. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5900870/