Though bloating is quite common, it doesn't happen for no reason. So why may we be experiencing that uncomfortable full belly feeling at oftentimes the most inconvenient of times?
Bloating can occur acutely, for instance during holiday meals, or chronically as a daily occurrence. Bloating describes the physical protrusion of the abdominal region. This happens when the gastrointestinal tract becomes full of gas or air, promoting feelings of tightness and fullness and even abdominal pain.
This may happen due to a wide variety of reasons:
- Low stomach acid
- Food sensitivities or intolerances
- Gut infections such as SIBO or parasites
- Carbonated beverages
- Eating or drinking too quickly
- Chewing gum
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Hormonal imbalances
- Anxiety and stress
Though abdominal bloating can be a harmful symptom, yet highly bothersome to say the least, chronic bloating may indicate deeper issues going on which is why it's important to investigate and address with your healthcare professional to rule out any possible pre-existing conditions.
What Types of Food Cause Stomach Bloating?
The food you choose to eat will make a big difference in your digestive symptoms and how you feel. For many of us, we are very well aware of the foods that don't make us feel so great but sometimes it can be a little trickier to figure out what foods may be causing your symptoms.
Certain types of foods may cause more bloating than others, however, we have to remember that it will also be highly bio-individual as each person will have their own intolerances or sensitivities.
Foods that may be more difficult to break down for the body can cause bloating more easily such as beans, legumes, gluten-containing products, and dairy.
Cruciferous vegetables are often recommended to avoid as well as they can promote gas production however if you cook them well this can help you better digest them.
Avoiding easily fermentable carbohydrates can also make a difference because these foods feed all the bacteria, good or bad, in the gut and can make matters worse if you are experiencing gut dysbiosis or infections.
These carbohydrates may include wheat, garlic, onion, fructose, legumes, sweeteners, and dairy.
This is also known as the FODMAP diet. Though following this type of diet won't be necessary for everyone it can make a big difference for many people and may be worthwhile to explore if you find yourself struggling with bloating that never seems to go away.
What Types of Foods Can Help With Stomach Bloating?
Fortunately, there are foods that can help you to fight the bloat! We don't just want you to eliminate foods as this can promote nutrient deficiencies, and let's face it, it's not that fun. While you address the underlying causes of your bloating you can also add in foods that can help to promote healthy bowel movements and maintaining healthy digestive health.
- Coconut yogurt
- Green tea
- Peppermint tea
If you are experiencing bloating it's best to cook your fruits and vegetables as often as you can while you are working on healing your gut, to help your stomach break down the tough outer fibers that can create more trouble for your digestive system.
Foods to Avoid if You're Feeling Bloated
If you're still unsure of which foods are causing you issues, you might want to try an elimination diet by avoiding certain foods that can be more triggering during a certain time amount of time. This is best done with the help of a nutritionist or health care practitioner to figure out what is affecting you in particular. Common foods that are recommended to avoid if you have tummy troubles include:
- Sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol
- Raw cruciferous vegetables
High FODMAP foods such as onion, garlic, wheat, dairy, fructose, beans, and legumes.
And then of course the obvious offenders such as processed foods, fried foods, fast food, and alcohol, but we assume that you already knew that.
Supplements for bloating
A blend of traditionally used plants in herbal medicine to aid digestion and offer relief from bloating, gas and nausea. Bye-bye bloating includes soothing organic ginger, peppermint, and fennel delivered in vegan capsules.
Organic Ginger: Traditionally used to help with digestive issues, including lack of appetite, nausea, digestive spasms, indigestion, and flatulent colic.
Organic Peppermint: Helps relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly the build-up of gas in the digestive tract.
Organic Fennel: Helps relieve the pain, gas, and bloating associated with digestive upset.
Sourced from the highest quality most nourishing certified organic ingredients that can be found, Well Told Health takes pride in providing the highest quality supplements as close to nature as possible to nourish and invigorate.
Water B Gone Support Supplement is an all-natural supplement that provides pre-menstrual support by reducing fluid retention and bloating.
Water B Göne works by delivering a combination of natural remedies to your liver, muscles, and reproductive organs that reduce the amount of excess water in your system.
With a combination of dandelion and juniper berry, Water B Göne is formulated with natural diuretic ingredients to help flush excess water from your system while providing you with PMS support. The dandelion, scientifically referred to as Taraxacum officinale, along with a clinical dose of juniper berry acts to increase diuresis (water loss),. Water B Göne’s other ingredients, including milk thistle, black cohosh, and magnesium work to detoxify your liver, muscles, and reproductive organs to help you feel light and energetic as you approach your menstrual cycle. Each of these ingredients works harmoniously to improve the balance in your body and contribute to your overall health and well-being.
You have likely heard of probiotics being recommended for gut health as they can help to support a healthy microbiome. Probiotics can make a real difference for the health of your digestive system while reducing unwanted symptoms as these beneficial microbes are easily depleted by poor dietary choices, certain medications, chemicals, and stress.
However, certain probiotic strains can potentially make some conditions worse such as SIBO or histamine intolerance. On the other hand, certain strains have been shown to improve conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and symptoms such as bloating which include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces boulardii (1)(2). When in doubt, don't guess, seek a trained physician to help you choose the best probiotic for you.
How they work
Probiotic supplements are intended to deliver "good" bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract to maintain a healthy gut environment and promote proper digestion. Maintaining this ecosystem is essential for overall health but it can also help to manage and even overcome many digestive symptoms and conditions such as constipation, IBS, bloating, and diarrhea.
Bloating is commonly caused by an imbalance of microbes in the gut, therefore replenishing with beneficial probiotics can help to prevent and reduce the dreaded bloat.
How to take them
Is there a best time to take probiotics? There isn't one specific time to take probiotics however it is often recommended to take your probiotic supplement about 30 minutes or so before a meal as the presence of food may improve bacterial survival in the digestive tract (3).
Though you can also take it on an empty stomach, there doesn't seem to be a significant difference whether you consume food or not alongside your supplement. The most important factor will be consistency so experiment with what works for you!
Note: You may experience some gas or bloating at the start of supplementation but this is most commonly part of the adjustment phase and should dissipate after a few days. If however, the gas or bloating continues it is recommended to check in with your health care provider.
If you missed our extensive lesson on probiotics and prebiotics you can find it here, but essentially prebiotics are the food or fertilizer for your beneficial bacteria residing in the gut.
They support and promote the proliferation of bacterial species to take up residence in the gut and maintain a healthy microflora. Prebiotics occur naturally in a variety of foods such as artichoke, jicama, banana, greens and asparagus but they can also be supplemented.
How they work
Prebiotic fibers are not digestible by humans by rather by our bacterial species residing in the gut. This is why symptoms such as gas and bloating can occur from increased fiber consumption as the microbes feed on this food source and produce byproducts that are not always so pleasant to experience. These prebiotics can provide many benefits such as protecting the gut lining, reducing pathogenic bacteria, promoting healthy bowel movements and elimination, and enhancing the growth of beneficial microbial species.
How to take them
Similarly to probiotics, increased gas or bloating may occur when first taking prebiotics, whether supplemented or eaten in greater quantities, but this is typically only temporary as the microbiome adapts to this shift. For this reason, it is recommended to start slow and work your way up as tolerated. If you have SIBO or other gut infections it is recommended to speak with your health care provider before supplementing with probiotics or prebiotics as this can potentially exacerbate the symptoms without first getting rid of the infection.
We create our own enzymes naturally in order to break down foods and assimilate nutrients to get them into our cells, however, this process isn't always optimally functioning. For those who have a deficiency of digestive enzymes, which can deplete as we age, the digestive process can be become compromised. This is where supplementation may be needed.
How they work
Digestive enzyme supplements will typically contain a variety of enzymes that work at digesting fats, protein, and carbohydrates. A full spectrum of enzymes is generally recommended when looking for a digestive enzyme supplement.
Digestive enzymes support the digestive process but also overall health in several ways by improving nutrient absorption, supporting a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, supporting the breakdown of hard-to-digest foods, reducing inflammation, and improving intestinal lining health.
Digestive enzymes can be especially helpful if you have lactose intolerance or other food intolerances or sensitivities. Many people report being able to enjoy certain foods again that they usually may not have been able to tolerate before supplementing with enzymes.
By supporting your body's ability to break down and process foods you can better prevent and improve gastrointestinal issues such as bloating.
How to take them
It is generally recommended to take enzymes just before or at the beginning of a meal for them to get to work once food hits your stomach. Avoid downing large amounts of water before meals as this could potentially dilute digestive juices and promote digestive distress and instead take small sips while taking your supplements.
Here are 5 natural ways to promote a flatter tummy:
Bloating can be one of the most stubborn health symptoms to get rid of. And with summer just around the corner, the infamous food baby can kill your beach vibes and prevent you from enjoying life to the very fullest during the warmest months of the year (which isn’t to say that bloating isn’t dreadful all year round). Bloating can result from many different factors. And since it’s a common symptom shared by many different health conditions, such as food intolerances, estrogen dominance, leaky gut or gut dysbiosis, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why you’re bloated in the first place. However, there are a few simple solutions for bloating that can help promote a flat stomach by supporting healthy digestion.
1. Practice Proper Food Combining
Food combining has been practiced for thousands of years and is gaining popularity in the natural health world for its ability to clear up digestive issues. Food combining follows the principles of only combining foods at meals that digest optimally together. For example, the simple sugars in fruit like to digest very rapidly, but when combined with a slow-digesting food such as a protein, the rate at which the sugar digests can cause an intestinal traffic jam (read: bloating and gas). Food combining is fairly simple to follow and can quickly resolve digestive issues that are related to poor food combinations. All of the “rules” of food combining can be found online, and there are plenty of books and health blogs that publish recipes based on food combining principles alone.
2. Replace Dairy With Nut Milk Alternatives
Hidden food intolerances are a common cause of bloating- especially when it comes to dairy. Even if you don’t think you’re sensitive to dairy (and you may not be), as humans, many of us stop producing a sufficient amount of the enzyme lactase past the stages of breastfeeding. Lactase is the enzyme that is needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. Without a sufficient supply of lactase to digest lactose, our bodies can have a hard time breaking it down, which can cause bloating. To promote a flatter tummy, try replacing dairy products with non-dairy alternatives made from nuts or grains. Unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk and rice milk are all great options. By removing dairy from your diet, you may also be able to discover if you have a hidden food intolerance based on how you feel without it.
3. Go Grain-Free
Grains can be another source of bloating for two reasons. Firstly, grains that contain a protein called gluten can be hard for the body to digest. For this reason, gluten is a common culprit in bloating, regardless of whether you’re allergic to it or not (1). Secondly, grains contain a protective outer shell called phytic acid, which is also hard for the body to break down. To promote a flatter stomach, you may want to begin cutting out glutenous grains and replacing them with gluten-free grains such as brown rice or buckwheat. Another way to keep bloating at bay is to soak grains for 12 hours prior to cooking them to help break down the phytic acid. If bloating is a persistent problem for you, going grain-free entirely could further help promote a flatter tummy.
4. Eat Probiotics for Smooth Digestion
One of the reasons chronic bloating occurs is because digestive function is compromised. And this is often due to a lack of probiotics (or friendly bacteria) in the digestive system. You see, we naturally have a balance of good and bad bacteria in our systems. But too often, bad bacteria can take the lead and outnumber the good bacteria in our intestines. This is caused by diets high in refined sugar and alcohol, low fiber diets, chronic stress and frequent antibiotic use. To help restore your gut health and reduce bloating, adding probiotics to your diet in the form of fermented foods or a probiotic supplement can be extremely helpful. The best-fermented foods to eat for gut health are unsweetened coconut yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. You can even take fermented herbs to support digestion such as Botanica’s fermented milk thistle. Taking a high quality probiotic supplement can also be helpful for a higher concentration of friendly gut bacteria.
5. Drink a Green Smoothie Each Morning
Since fresh fruit and veggies are highly concentrated in digestive enzymes and fiber, having a green smoothie each morning on an empty stomach can help improve your digestive function throughout the rest of the day. It’s also recommended to have a green smoothie on an empty stomach so that the nutrients are properly digested and absorbed without their digestion being interfered with by other foods. Green smoothies are an excellent source of fiber, which helps clear out the toxic sludge that can accumulate in our digestive systems from the foods we eat. Green smoothies are also easier to digest because the tough fiber in the fruit and vegetables essentially becomes “predigested” once blended. Foods such as green smoothies that are easy to digest are less likely to contribute to bloating. As you can see, there are many different solutions that can help reduce bloating and promote a flatter tummy. However, the best solution for you will depend on your body’s unique needs and your current state of health. For this reason, it’s always best to consult with a natural healthcare practitioner for personalized recommendations and before making any drastic changes to your diet or supplement regime.
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.