Does your belly look and feel swollen after drinking a cup of milk? Do you get stomach cramps and start passing excess gas after an hour of chewing gum? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you most likely suffer from one of the most common digestive problems – bloating.
Three out of four individuals diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and one out of six individuals without any existing health problem experience bloating. For many IBS patients, bloating is the most annoying symptom.
When should you worry about your bloating?
If you experience bloating after overeating, it shouldn’t be a cause of concern. But, if you suddenly started bloating recently without overeating, we recommend seeing a specialist to check for any underlying causes, such as IBS, food intolerances, sensitivity to gluten, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Read more: What Foods Cause Bloating?
Specific tests and treatments have to be performed to achieve an accurate diagnosis of these gut and bowel health conditions. While waiting for your test results to come out, we recommend you follow these 8 effective ways to get rid of your bloating and minimise your digestive discomfort.
1. Drink 6 to 8 Glasses of Water Daily.
Keeping yourself hydrated is proven to minimise your chances of bloating and other digestive issues.
First, it lowers your risk for dehydration and electrolyte imbalance that can result in poor digestion and constipation. When your body suffers from dehydration, it tries to hold onto excess water to recover and prevent it from happening again.
Second, drinking lots of water helps your body flush out high amounts of sodium that can cause bloating.
When there’s too much sodium in your body, it can cause a fluid imbalance that will make it difficult for your kidneys to pull out excess water and transport it to your bladder for elimination. So instead of eliminating the excess fluid, it stays in your bloodstream to dilute the sodium. However, this only increases blood volume, which adds extra pressure on your arteries and heart, resulting in hypertension.
If you love Chinese food or eating processed foods, we suggest adding two more glasses on top of our daily recommended water intake. This will not only help reduce your bloating but also keep your heart healthy. Just make sure that you don’t gulp down a lot of air while drinking water to avoid having excess gas in your stomach.
2. Check for any Food Sensitivity or Intolerance.
Bloating usually occurs when you eat foods that you are sensitive or intolerant to. To keep your tummy happy while preventing any flare-up, consider having yourself checked for common food intolerances and sensitivities such as:
Lactose intolerance. Lactose is commonly found in milk and dairy products. Lactose intolerant individuals may experience bloating, stomach cramps, or diarrhoea after ingesting lactose-containing foods or drinks.
Fructose. Fructose intolerance can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, chronic fatigue, and bloating. It is commonly found in fruits and some vegetables.
Gluten sensitivity. Gluten-sensitive individuals experience bloating, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, or diarrhoea after eating grains such as wheat, barley, and rye.
3. Try a Low-FODMAP Diet.
If a certain type of food is causing your bloating, it may be because it’s high in FODMAPs. Some individuals find foods that contain large amounts of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols difficult to digest because they are intolerant to some of these carbs.
To know which high-FODMAP foods (e.g., lactose, fructose, and added sugars) are triggering your bloating and other digestive symptoms, we recommend that you follow the low-FODMAP diet. This diet has been proven effective in reducing various digestive symptoms of IBS patients, including bloating. Just make sure to get your dietitian’s approval before starting this diet.
4. Eat a Moderate Amount of Carbs.
If you don’t have any food intolerances yet your trousers get uncomfortably tight in the afternoon, you may want to cut down on your carbs.
Carbs bind with water to create glycogen (a form of energy) that is kept in your liver and muscles. When you eat too many carbs, your body holds onto more water that can make you feel bloated. While you cannot completely eliminate your body’s source of energy, you can always limit your daily carb intake.
Eating your food at the right speed also helps lessen your bloating. When you eat too fast or talk while you eat, you swallow some air that can get into your gut along with your food.
5. Watch Your Sugar or Sugar Alcohols Intake.
Some foods contain a lot of sugar or sugar alcohols that can cause bloating and weight gain. For example, fruits like peaches, grapes, cherries, and mangoes can make your tummy look inflated like a tiny balloon. While these fruits have nutritional benefits, they naturally contain large amounts of sugar that may make digestion difficult for you.
To help reduce your bloating and maintain a healthy weight, we recommend stocking up on less sugary fruits that also contain a lot of water in them, such as oranges, strawberries, blueberries, and cantaloupe.
Sweeteners and chewing gums also contain sugar alcohols. When consumed in large amounts, your gut bacteria produce intestinal gas while breaking them down. This digestive process can lead to bloating and stomach cramps. For this reason, it’s best to avoid foods that contain sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol.
6. Take Probiotics.
Studies have shown that probiotics can help reduce common digestive symptoms like bloating for IBS patients. They help restore the natural balance of your gut microflora and provide additional reinforcement when the good bacteria in your intestines are fighting off pathogens.
Read more: Are Probiotic Drinks Good for IBS?
Fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi, yoghurt, and sauerkraut are excellent sources of probiotics. We also recommend adding some prebiotic foods to your meals to boost the efficacy of probiotics. Examples of prebiotic-rich foods are broccoli, walnuts, chickpeas, seaweed, and bananas.
7. Take Apple Cider and Bitter Foods.
Try drinking a glass of water mixed with one tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar before eating your meal. This drink will keep your digestive enzymes at optimum levels and aid in your digestion.
Bitter foods like artichokes, chicory, and watercress can help, too. Fruits that have natural digestive enzymes like papaya and pineapple are also worth adding into your smoothies, baked goods, or salads.
8. Drink Herbal Teas.
Herbal teas like ginger, lemon, and peppermint have therapeutic effects on your gut. They can help prevent the formation of intestinal gas, which in turn, can provide relief from flatulence and bloating.
Fennel is a herbal plant that is known for its carminative uses, specifically for debloating. Crushing a teaspoon of fennel seeds and immersing them in hot water is a great post-meal drink that can help get rid of your bloating.
Need Our Help?
Book an appointment with an accredited dietitian or nutritionist by phone on (07) 3071-7405 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday or send us an enquiry. Alternatively, you can read up on bloating and other gut and bowel health issues.