How to Get Rid of Bloating

Woman feeling bloated

Getty Images / LaylaBird

No one likes to feel bloated. A full, tight abdomen is uncomfortable, often painful if the bloating does not begin to decrease.

Research suggests that bloating affects about 16% to 19% of the general population. Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of and prevent it. Knowing what causes bloating, and foods that may trigger it, is a great place to start.

Common Causes of Bloating

Gas

“The most common cause of bloating is gas, especially after eating,” says Los Angeles-based nutritionist Carrie Gabriel MS, RDN, owner of Steps2Nutrition. “When undigested food gets broken down or air is swallowed, gas builds up in the digestive tract.” That, in turn, can cause those uncomfortable bloating symptoms.

Eating or Drinking Too Quickly

This is a common culprit of bloating, Gabriel says. When you chew too quickly, you swallow lots of air, which can cause excess flatulence and bloating. The solution? Chew mindfully instead of inhaling your meal.

Excessive Gum Chewing

It may be small and seemingly innocuous, but your gum could be leading to bloating, Gabriel says. This is because chewing gum can cause you to swallow pockets of air, which leads to gas and other unpleasant side effects.

Constipation

If you're straining to start a bowel movement or notice your stool looks like rocks and pebbles, you may be constipated. Constipation is a common reason why people experience stomach pains and bloating. The longer constipation lasts, the worse your symptoms will be.

Medical Causes

Sometimes, underlying conditions cause persistent bloating. These include:

How to Get Rid of Bloating

Take a Walk

Movement of any kind helps reduce bloating, Gabriel says. So after enjoying a big dinner, lace up your sneakers and head out for a 30-minute walk.

Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements

Your body needs certain elements to digest the food you eat, says Carrie Lam, MD, FAAMFM, ABAARM, a primary care doctor at Lam Clinic in Tustin, California. "Digestive enzymes ensure optimal absorption of the nutrients entering your stomach," she says.

"Different enzymes are needed to digest different foods along the digestive tract. If your body is lacking these enzymes, digestion can be impaired leading to bloating and other potential issues."

You can buy bottles of digestive enzyme supplements at most health stores. Some of the most well-known products include Beano and Lactase.

Try Peppermint Oil

You can buy peppermint oil in supplement form. Research indicates that it can reduce symptoms of IBS, including bloating. It's a "safe and effective short-term treatment," according to the authors of a review published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

Take Probiotics

Studies have found that taking probiotics can help reduce gas and bloating in people with digestive problems.

How to Prevent Bloating in the Future

Practice Mindful Eating

Turn off the TV and concentrate on the food in front of you, Lam suggests. This is a form of meditation, she says, and it's "also the healthiest way for your body to digest food properly." Eat slowly to avoid swallowing too much air, which, again, can lead to bloating.

Change Your Diet

According to John Hopkins Medicine, this is often the first step in treatment for bloating. Many people find success with a low-FODMAP diet (which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). These are found in:

  • Oligosaccharides: wheat, onions, garlic, beans
  • Disaccharides: lactose in milk and ice cream
  • Monosaccharides: apples and pears
  • Polyols: chewing gum and candies

Cut Back on Carbonated Beverages—and Use a Straw

The carbonation in fizzy drinks like soda can cause bloating. Gabriel suggests drinking through a straw, which can be helpful because you'll naturally drink much more slowly.

Hydrate Properly

Watch your water intake closely, Lam says. You’ll want to stay hydrated to avoid bloating, but when you drink is important, too: Drinking too much water with meals will dilute important stomach acids needed to break down food, she says.

It's important to drink plenty before and after you eat. "If you become dehydrated, your body retains water until the next time it’s needed," Lam says. This can cause bloating in your abdominal area, as well as in other parts of your body, like your ankles.

Keep a Journal

Keeping track of what you eat and how you feel afterward can help pinpoint what's causing your body discomfort, Lam says. "Certain foods? Beverages?" Or maybe it's stress or a combination of a few factors. She suggests writing down everything you eat and drink "so you can begin to correlate food triggers with bloating." Then, when you figure out what's causing your symptoms, you can work to eliminate it or reduce the food from your diet.

Foods That May Cause Bloating

Dairy

Dairy products contain lactose, which is a type of sugar, says Jesse P. Houghton, MD, senior medical director of Gastroenterology at Southern Ohio Medical Center. It's very common to have some degree of lactose intolerance, which means our bodies struggle to effectively digest this sugar. That can lead to bloating, cramping, and diarrhea.

If you're worried about bloating, be mindful of how much dairy—such as milk, cheese, and ice cream—you consume.

Legumes

Dry beans and lentils contain high amounts of the dietary fiber raffinose. That means that eating lots of them can result in gas that causes bloating.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts can all cause bloating, Houghton says. But they're packed with valuable fiber, so don't avoid them entirely. Instead, write down how these veggies impact your symptoms; if you notice a link to bloating or gas, you might then want to cut back. Cooking them instead of eating them raw can also help.

High-Fat Foods

According to the Cleveland Clinic, doctors often suggest laying off high-fat foods like fried chicken or onion rings. Such choices can lead to bloating because they take a long time to digest. Go with leaner options instead, such as grilled chicken or fish.

Carbonated Beverages

When you're gulping a soda, you're likely to take in excess air, which can contribute to bloating.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

This ingredient, which is commonly used in soda and fruit drinks, and even in bread, can cause bloating when consumed in large quantities. The same is true for other sweeteners, such as fructose and sorbitol, Houghton says.

Exercise and Bloating

Exercise can be a great way to combat bloating. One study found that mild physical activity reduced symptoms in individuals who had chronic illnesses that caused regular bloating.

"All exercise and movement can help reduce bloating by moving built-up gas through your digestive tract," Gabriel says. "Cardio specific-movement like walking or even light jogging can deflate your bloat." Typically, just 30 minutes will do the trick.

A Word From Verywell

Bloating is uncomfortable, but usually can be resolved by dietary or lifestyle changes. If making these changes does not result in decreased bloating, discuss the issue with a healthcare professional.

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9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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