Bloating is extremely common, and happens from time to time to even the healthiest among us. Although in most cases it’s nothing to be too worried about, bloating and its accompanying symptoms like gas and indigestion can be frustrating and even painful.
The good news is that there are a number of natural home remedies for bloating that are simple, healthy and effective.
While there are a number of over-the-counter medications that can improve bloating when it happens, the best remedies go further by helping to prevent future bloating and restore overall digestive health.
Bloating, or the feeling of a swollen belly, is generally caused by impaired digestion or excessive gas production. There are a number of factors that may contribute to bloating, including diet, dehydration or imbalanced gut bacteria.
Another common cause of bloating is aerophagia, also known as “swallowing air.” We all swallow air throughout the day when we eat, drink and talk, and most of us expel this gas through burping and flatulence. However, certain habits like eating too fast, talking while eating and chewing gum can cause excessive air swallowing, resulting in painful gas or bloating.
Ginger is something of a superstar when it comes to digestion. Traditionally used in herbalism and in many cultures around the world, an increasing body of research now backs up ginger’s effects on digestion including reducing gut inflammation, bloating and digestive discomfort(1).
Try making tea at home with fresh ginger root, and a little bit of honey or lemon if desired. Ginger can be used as a preventive measure and to help speed up digestion, or as a remedy when symptoms emerge.
Other helpful herbs and spices may include peppermint, chamomile, basil and cumin. Fennel seeds can also be made into a tea or even chewed at the end of a meal in order to promote healthy digestion and help to prevent bloating.
One of the most common causes of bloating is the lack of proper hydration. Increasing your intake of water throughout the day is a great way to support digestion and prevent bloating.
If you struggle to drink enough water, you can also stay hydrated and enhance digestion with the help of natural, herbal teas.
Caffeine, alcohol, foods that are high in sodium and even stress can also lead to dehydration, even with adequate water intake, so it’s important to be conscious of these factors as well.
For an extra boost of hydration, consider adding electrolytes to your water.
Bloating, gas and other digestive symptoms are often signs of gut dysbiosis (an imbalance between healthy, beneficial bacteria, and pathogenic or harmful bacteria). Supplementing withprobiotics (beneficial bacteria) can help to address this imbalance and support gut health.
Studies have shown that probiotics can improve bloating and abdominal pain in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (2). Balancing the gut microbiome with probiotics is one of the best ways to get right to the source and address the underlying causes of bloating, which generally lie in the gut.
Look forprobiotics that include carefully selected strains such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium infantis, which have been proven to support healthy digestion, reduce gas and bloating, and help with healthy weight loss.
Gentle or moderate exercise may help to clear excess gas and reduce symptoms of bloating(3). If you find yourself feeling bloated after meals, spending a few minutes stretching, practicing yoga or walking shortly after eating might help.
What you eat has a huge impact on your digestive health. Some of the most common culprits when it comes to bloating are fried foods, soda, sugar and artificial sweeteners(4).
Eliminating dairy products may also help. More than half of the population loses the ability to produce lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose (the primary type of sugar found in cow’s milk), after childhood. This makes dairy products extremely challenging to digest, which can lead to bloating and other digestive issues. Try switching out regular milk for alternatives like almond or oat milk.
Apple cider vinegar has been used for hundreds of years to support stomach acid production, reduce gas and bloating and enhance digestion.
This is one of the best home remedies for bloating, but it’s a bit of an acquired taste. Apple cider vinegar capsules are a good solution, as they provide all of the benefits and power without the taste.
Try taking apple cider vinegar capsules daily for digestive support, prevention of bloating and excessive gas, and for a metabolism boost.
The gut and the brain communicate bidirectionally, meaning that poor gut health can lead to stress, anxiety and depression, and stress can lead to digestive discomfort.
Stress has long been implicated in digestive disorders like IBS, and stress reduction techniques including meditation, yoga and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have been found to improve bloating, gas and other digestive symptoms(5).
Since we all have different microbiomes and needs, keeping a food diary to track what you’re eating and how you feel after is one of the best ways to figure out exactly what diet agrees with you the most, and which foods you may need to limit for optimal digestion.
Keep in mind that while occasional bloating is perfectly normal, if you’re experiencing it frequently, severely, or alongside other symptoms, there may be an underlying condition that should be addressed with a practitioner.
Bloating may be painful or simply uncomfortable. Either way, it’s helpful to know how to tackle it when it comes around, or even before it happens.
This uncomfortable digestive symptom can often be treated and prevented with the help of simple, natural home remedies. To support overall digestive health and reduce bloating, daily supplements likeprobiotics andapple cider vinegar capsules may be used.
Ellie Ellias - Contributing Writer, Physician's Choice