Stomach bloating is usually caused by too much gas clogging up the digestive system. It is rarely a cause for concern but it can be a sign of a more serious underlying health condition. It is normally remedied by making simple dietary and lifestyle changes such as avoiding gassy foods. While some beverages can aggravate it, namely fizzy drinks and alcohol, there are a number of natural and nutritious equivalents help beat the bloat.
According to registered dietitian Amy Shapiro, peppermint contains muscle-relaxing properties that can help to encourage the realise of trapped wind – one of the main offenders of stomach bloating. It can also aid other digestive issues such as period cramps and aches.
Registered dietician Ashvini Mashru explained: “I use it regularly because it has the potassium content like bananas so it helps regulate electrolyte levels and keeps fluid levels regular in our bodies.”
Potassium-rich products are an effective remedy for stomach bloating. One cup of coconut water contains 600 mg of potassium, more than a banana, which has 422 mg, adds Mashru.
The is a popular misconception that drinking lots of water will actually compound the problem. A myth that dietician David Grotto was keen to bust: “People tend to think that when they’re holding on to water they should cut back drinking it, but that’s not the case.”
He explained that bodies retrain fluids when they’re not getting enough of them, so upping water intake is a great way to help the body flush out fluids instead of trapping them in.
Water with lemon
Lemon is a great choice to spruce up water. According to Frank Lipman, M.D., founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Centre, “When digestion is robust, your body breaks down food better and absorbs more of its nutrients.”
Fennel seed ginger tea
Dr Oz said: “After a large meal midday, have a cup of fennel seed ginger tea to help reduce indigestion and minimise abdominal bloat. This type of tea increases satiety and won’t overstimulate your gut.”
Nutritionist Dr Josh Axe added: “Ginger has compounds called gingerols that have anti-inflammatory benefits. When foods aren’t broken down, they start to ferment in the gut. That’s what causes gas and bloating.”
Potassium-rich foods such as bananas and avocados are a great way to ease an upset digestive system and reduce the swelling. Dr Oz recommends trying his avocado smoothie for breakfast:
2 tbsp cacao powder
1/2 medium cold banana
1/4 cup plain coconut milk
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
According to the NHS, other ways to banish the bloat include:
- Try not to swallow too much air. Don’t talk and eat at the same time, sit down to eat (sitting upright and not slumped over), stop chewing gum and chew with your mouth closed so that you’re not taking in excess air.
- Identifying and avoiding food intolerances. The NHS explained: “Food intolerance can lead to bloating when your bowel doesn’t empty properly, the food causes gas to be trapped, and too much gas is produced as a reaction to the food.”
- The main culprits tend to be wheat or gluten and dairy products it says. Eating less of the offender or cutting it out completely is the best course of action.
Keeping a food diary for a couple of weeks to identify the main aggravators of the bloating is also advisable, said the NHS.
In some cases, bloating is a symptom of an underlying health condition. According to Harvard Health, these include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome, a condition characterised by a combination of symptoms (bloating, cramping, abdominal pain, diahorrea, or constipation) that last for three or more months.
- Inflammatory bowel disease, an inflammation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the small intestine. It’s triggered by a protein called gluten that’s found in wheat, barley, and rye.
- Constipation, a condition defined by fewer than three bowel movements per week, hard or dry stools, the need to strain to move the bowels, and a sense of an incomplete evacuation. “If you’re not emptying your gut, there’s no room in your abdomen, and you’ll have excess bloating,” Dr. Staller says.
- Gastroparesis, a sluggish emptying of food from the stomach into the small intestine.
- Cancer; Colon, ovarian, stomach, and pancreatic cancer are among the cancers that can have bloating as a symptom.
If the bloating persists over a series of weeks, the NHS recommends booking an seeing your local GP.