Bloating busters: Expert nutritionist insights and 10 tips to beat the bulge

Many people wonder how to eliminate bloating, especially women. 

No matter how healthy an ingredient may seem, it can still leave you feeling bloated. Our pants feel tight after lunch despite filling our bellies with hearty lentil salads and nourishing grain bowls.

Typically, this is caused by bloat. Despite its bad reputation, bloating is a sign of inflammation. Even health gurus and wellness enthusiasts experience it. Bloating can occur even if you avoid foods that cause it.

Approximately one in ten Americans experience bloating regularly [1]. If that’s you, don’t fret. The following tips will help you beat the bloat to be more comfortable and confident in the coming days [2].

What is bloating?

Bloating and gassiness aren’t just symptoms associated with holiday feasts. It can happen even if you don’t eat a lot.

There are a few simple changes you can make to help reduce gas and bloating. Gas, air, and/or fluid retention in the stomach and intestines cause bloating.

You may feel like your stomach has no room when you’re bloated. Your stomach feels full, tender and tight. In some cases, swollen. If you’ve experienced it, bloating can be both uncomfortable and painful. 

Causes of bloating

A variety of factors. As mentioned above, bloating happens when the GI tract becomes filled with air or gas [3]. This can be caused by something as simple as eating certain foods or drinking carbonated beverages.

Some foods produce more gas than others. Furthermore, food allergies or intolerance, like lactose intolerance (problems with dairy) can trigger bloating.

Bloating can also happen if you overeat too fast. Beyond food, the menstrual cycle is another common cause of temporary bloating. Changing progesterone and estrogen levels cause the body to retain more water and salt. Thus, bloating [4].

Bloating caused by not eating enough

On the other hand, not eating enough or trying to fill up on low-calorie foods can cause bloating. This is a two-pronged approach. There is a disproportionate amount of raw vegetables and brassicas in many diets (such as cauliflower and kale).

Our bodies must work extra hard to break down a ton of raw veggies. This results in bloating and gas. 

Secondly, for chronic under-eaters, the digestive tract slows down. As a result, food moves slowly through the body. It can feel uncomfortable. This explains a heightened sensitivity to feelings of fullness and bloating.

Some healthy foods cause bloating

Even a healthy diet can cause gas. Colorful fruits and seasonal veggies do a body good, but sometimes, they’re not easy on the digestive tract. 

In essence, it all comes down to carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, those made up of more than one sugar until are called oligosaccharides. And oligosaccharides are found in legumes, such as beans.

While the bacteria in our guts love these oligosaccharides, they produce nitrogen gas, which we release as flatulence. It’s a normal side effect of eating legumes.

Furthermore, foods that contain complex carbohydrates, like whole grains and cruciferous vegetables, are also high in fiber. And a high-fiber diet can certainly cause excessive gas and bloating. Fiber goes undigested in the GI tract, so a gas buildup can occur from fiber’s fermentation.

You may feel it in your gut if you suddenly eat more fiber than usual. Again, it should be temporary and is a normal part of loading up on more veggies.

Bloating and stress

Beyond food, stress and anxiety can trigger bloating. Stress slows down digestion, causing bloating, pain and constipation. It puts pressure on your stomach and abdomen.

In turn, this upsets two things: hormone balance and neurotransmitter balance. This can create an environment where foods that are normally digested just fine end up being poorly digested, leading to gas and bloating.

Stress can also lead to other digestive woes, like stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome [5]. At any rate, stomach bloating can indicate a more serious medical condition.

When should you seek medical attention for bloating

Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing bloating regularly. You should be aware of the following signs and symptoms:

  • persistent bloating, gas or heartburn
  • stools that contain blood or mucus
  • significant changes to your bowel movements
  • if your symptoms are making it difficult to function

Impaired digestion may also cause bloating. When the muscles that move food along do not work correctly, gas can build up in the small intestines, resulting in bloating.

Occasionally, gas in the intestines returns to the stomach in the wrong direction. Depending on what’s causing your bloating, surgery may be required to correct it. At any rate, it’s always best to seek medical attention if your bloating and gas are consistent and painful.

How to beat bloat in 10 easy steps
Photograph: YuriArcursPeopleimages/Envato

How to beat bloat in 10 easy steps

Armed with an understanding of why bloating happens, let’s dive into simple tips to help beat the bloat.

1. Get your body moving

Getting your bowels moving regularly can help eliminate excess gas and stool. Walking around the block can relieve gas pressure quickly. Additionally, certain yoga poses can position the abdominal muscles to encourage the release of excess gas.

2. Consider peppermint oil

Indigestion and gas are also likely to be helped by peppermint oil capsules. People without IBS can also use them to relieve bloating if they suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Peppermint helps move gas and stool more easily by relaxing the intestinal muscles. Follow the instructions on the packet at all times. Those who suffer from heartburn should stay away from peppermint.

3. Try digestive enzymes

If you’ve been diagnosed with an enzyme deficiency or digestive disorder, then digestive enzymes can help relieve gas and bloating. Even without a diagnosis, many people benefit from eating a digestive enzyme.

4. Give yourself an abdominal massage

You can help your bowels move by massaging your abdomen. It is especially beneficial to massage along the path of the large intestine. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Place your hands just above your right hip bone.
  • Rub in a circular motion with light pressure up toward the right side of the ribcage.
  • Rub straight across the upper belly area toward the left rib cage.
  • Move slowly down toward the left hip bone.
  • Repeat as necessary.

If the massage causes any pain, discontinue immediately.

5. Bathe in warm water

The heat of a bath can provide relief for a sore abdomen. In addition to reducing stress levels, relaxation can help reduce bloating and allow the GI tract to function more effectively. For added relaxation and benefits, add lavender Epsom salts to the bath.

6. Slowly introduce fiber-rich foods

Consuming more fiber prevents constipation and bloating. However, overeating fiber or increasing fiber intake too quickly can cause more gas and bloating. When increasing fiber intake, start slowly and allow the body to adjust to this change.

7. Replace carbonated beverages with infused water

Gas can build up in the stomach when drinking fizzy, carbonated drinks. Bubbles and bloating in the stomach can also be caused by the carbon dioxide that makes soda and similar beverages fizzy. Opt to stay hydrated by drinking water instead.

8. Get rid of sugar alcohol

Sugar alcohols in gum, packaged snacks and protein bars can cause bloating. These are hard for the GI tract to digest (our bodies can’t digest most of them), leading to discomfort. Swap sugar alcohols for more digestive-friendly sugars, like raw honey and maple syrup.

9. Probiotics may be beneficial

We need good bacteria in our gut. Say hello to probiotics, as this supplement may help regulate the colon bacteria that can produce gas and cause bloating.

10. Maintain a food diary

With a food diary, you can eliminate foods that make you feel uncomfortable. Food intolerances are often responsible for bloating. 

Digestion can be affected by excess gas caused by these foods. It may be possible to determine whether specific foods are responsible for bloating after meals by keeping track of food and drink intake for several weeks.

With these nutritionist insights and these 10 tips, you’ll be on the road to a slimmer and more confident you by beating the bulge and eliminating bloating.


Photograph: yavdat/Envato
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.