Bloating is when your belly feels swollen or enlarged after eating.
It is usually caused by gas or other digestive issues.
Bloating is very common. About 16–30% of people say they experience it regularly.
Although bloating may be a symptom of a serious medical condition, it is usually caused by something in the diet.
We all have gas in our bodies, but some people experience uncomfortable amounts of it, making them look and feel bloated. Bloating is usually caused by three main conditions: swallowing excess air, eating certain foods, and having bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. While there’s no universal cause or treatment for bloating, people often find that cutting out certain foods and implementing a specialized diet can bring immense relief.
How certain foods can relieve bloating
What’s fueling all of this bloating? Most likely, it’s linked to internal gas that’s building up in your innards due to constipation. “Everything is at a standstill,” says Czerwony. “Poop is just sitting there, fermenting, and making its presence known.”
Moving things along can be accomplished by adjusting what you eat and drink. The two big keys? Make sure your plate includes fiber-rich foods and that you’re consuming enough water.
Causes of Stomach Bloating
It can be challenging to determine the cause of stomach bloating. Some known causes of stomach bloating include:
- Excess gas in the intestine
- Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth ( SIBO)
- Irregular amounts of microorganisms in the bowel (dysbacteriosis)
- Sensitivity or intolerance to food
- Sensitivity of perception to digestive tract
- Spinal curvature of the lumbar spine resulting in lessened abdominal capacity for gas
- Gastroparesis, a motility disorder that delays the stomach’s ability to empty itself
- Anxiety, depression, and other gut-brain connections
What Types of Food Cause Stomach Bloating?
If you’re experiencing regular bloating, you should see a doctor and discuss your symptoms with them. Together, you can come up with a treatment plan. As previously discussed, because there are many causes for abdominal bloating, it can be challenging to determine what causes an individual’s stomach to bloat.
The first line of treatment for bloating that a doctor may prescribe is the low FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for:
- Fermentable Oligosaccharides. These are found in wheat, onions, garlic, legumes, and beans.
- Disaccharides. A class of sugars that are found in lactose products like milk, yogurt, and ice cream.
- Monosaccharides. This is a type of sugar that includes fructose. It’s often found in fruits like apples and pears.
- Polyols. Also called sugar alcohols, they’re found in apricots, nectarines, plums, and cauliflower. They can also be added to chewing gums and candy.
A low FODMAP diet cuts down the number of carbohydrates listed above that you consume. It has been found the small intestine can have a difficult time absorbing them, so it then passes the unabsorbed carbohydrates to the colon. In the colon, they become fermented and then make gas and cause bloating.
foods and drinks that can help with bloating
Papaya is a type of tropical fruit known for its sweet flavor and smooth, creamy texture.
It not only has a high water content but also provides plenty of fiber in each serving.
It likewise contains an enzyme called papain, which helps your body break down amino acids. This encourages healthy digestion and may help keep bloating at bay
Bananas are popular for their flavor, portability, and convenience.
They’re also highly nutritious and an excellent source of fiber, with 3 grams of fiber found in 1 medium (118 grams) banana.
Additionally, they’re rich in potassium, a nutrient that supports a healthy fluid balance. In turn, this may prevent bloating and water retention.
Kombucha is a type of fermented beverage typically made from black or green tea.
Like other fermented foods, it’s rich in probiotics and can promote gut health and regularity.
It can also keep you hydrated and squeeze more inflammation-fighting antioxidants into your daily diet to help beat bloating.
Ginger is an herb that’s well known for its ability to soothe digestive distress.
For example, some research shows that ginger could speed stomach emptying to prevent bloating and feelings of fullness.
It also contains an enzyme called zingibain, which helps break down protein more efficiently to support healthy digestion.
Celery is a nutritious veggie comprising about 95% water.
In addition to its high water content, celery contains mannitol, a type of sugar alcohol that softens stools to promote regularity by pulling water into the digestive tract.
Additionally, the root of the vegetable is considered a natural diuretic. This means it increases urine production to remove excess water and sodium from your body, which can help alleviate bloating.
Green tea is a great option to help you stay hydrated and prevent fluid retention.
It’s brimming with antioxidants like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which can neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation in your body.
Green tea also contains caffeine, a compound that stimulates digestive tract movement and acts as a natural laxative to support regularity. In turn, this can reduce bloating.
Berries like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
They’re also high in fiber. Blackberries, for instance, contain nearly 8 grams of fiber per cup (150 grams).
Increasing your fiber intake can enhance gut health and soften your stool to prevent constipation and bloating.
Yogurt is packed with probiotics, a beneficial type of bacteria that plays a key role in gut health.
According to some research, probiotics may improve stool frequency and consistency to promote regularity.
Furthermore, probiotics have been shown to reduce bloating and abdominal distension caused by conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common disorder that affects the large intestine.
Cucumbers comprise about 95% water, making them great for relieving bloating.
Eating foods with a high water content can help ensure you stay hydrated and meet your daily fluid needs.
This may prevent water retention and alleviate bloating caused by dehydration .
Avocados are highly nutritious, packing a good amount of folate and vitamins C and K into each serving.
They’re also rich in potassium, an essential mineral involved in regulating fluid balance and sodium levels to prevent water retention.
What’s more, they’re high in fiber, which moves slowly through your digestive tract to support regularity and help prevent constipation and bloating.
Asparagus is a great source of fiber, providing nearly 3 grams in each 1-cup (134-gram) serving.
It also contains a good amount of inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber found in a variety of foods.
Studies show that inulin may support gut health and increase regularity, which may help prevent bloating and constipation.
Enjoying a bowl of oatmeal in the morning can be an easy and effective way to battle bloating.
That’s because oats are loaded with fiber, boasting 4 grams in each 1/2-cup (40-gram) serving.
Plus, they contain a specific type of fiber called beta glucan, which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Pineapple is a tropical fruit that packs a serious punch when it comes to nutrition, with plenty of vitamin C, manganese, and B vitamins in every serving.
Pineapple also contains bromelain, an enzyme that has long been used in traditional medicine to treat digestive disorders.
In some studies, bromelain has been shown to fight inflammation, which improves issues like bloating and swelling.
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Turmeric is a spice often used to brighten curries, soups, and side dishes.
It contains a compound called curcumin, which has been studied extensively for its anti-inflammatory effects.
According to some research, curcumin may also improve gut health and reduce symptoms of IBS, including gas, bloating, and constipation.
If you experience bloating after eating foods like pasta, crackers, and bread, switching to gluten-free grains like quinoa may be worth a try.
Consuming foods that contain gluten can cause digestive issues like bloating among people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Quinoa is also rich in many other beneficial compounds like fiber and antioxidants that help combat bloating — even if you’re not on a gluten-free diet.
Apples have a high water content and are rich in potassium, which supports a healthy fluid balance and helps you stay hydrated.
What’s more, they’re brimming with fiber, with almost 5 grams in just 1 medium (200-gram) apple.
In particular, apples are high in a type of soluble fiber called pectin, which can accelerate the movement of food as it passes through your digestive tract to treat constipation and bloating.
Although it’s often added to sweets like pies, cakes, and crisps, rhubarb is not a fruit. Rather, it’s a vegetable known for its vibrant edible stalks.
Rhubarb contains a compound called sennoside. This compound inhibits water transport from the luminal to the vascular side of the colon, acting as a natural laxative to stimulate bowel movements.
Furthermore, it can help increase your fiber intake, with over 2 grams of fiber in each cup (122 grams) of rhubarb stalk.
Kiwi is a popular fruit rich in several key nutrients, including fiber and potassium.
It also contains actinidin, an enzyme shown to improve digestion and speed stomach emptying in some animal studies.
As such, several studies suggest that kiwi could benefit many digestive issues and help reduce bloating, stomach pain, and constipation.
Peppermint tea is an herbal tea that’s widely used to treat a range of digestive conditions.
Peppermint oil, in particular, has been shown to decrease inflammation and treat symptoms of IBS like stomach pain, constipation, and bloating. Plus, it may help prevent muscle spasms in the stomach and intestines, which could also help prevent bloating.
That said, more research is needed to confirm whether the benefits of peppermint oil also apply to peppermint tea.
Closely related to vegetables like carrots, celery, and parsley, fennel is a plant known for its distinctive licorice-like flavor.
Interestingly, studies show that fennel and its seeds possess antispasmodic properties, meaning it can help relax the muscles in your intestinal tract to provide relief from gas and bloating.
It also acts as a diuretic to increase urine production and reduce water retention.
Other ways to prevent bloating
In addition to incorporating some of the foods and drinks listed above into your daily diet, several other strategies can help prevent bloating.
For starters, be sure to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. This can help reduce how much air you swallow to prevent gas buildup.
Some research also suggests that taking supplements like probiotics or digestive enzymes could be beneficial.
To identify whether certain foods are causing your digestive issues, you may also consider tracking your food intake.
For example, foods high in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) — such as beans, dairy products, and garlic — trigger digestive symptoms like gas and bloating in some people.
Other ingredients that commonly cause bloating include sugar alcohols, cruciferous vegetables, carbonated beverages, and beer.
It’s also important to get plenty of sleep and regular exercise, as studies show that both sleep deprivation and physical inactivity may affect digestive health and worsen issues like bloating.
Lastly, you may also consider consulting a doctor to determine whether you have any food sensitivities or other underlying conditions that could contribute to bloating, such as IBS.
Bloating is a common issue that can be caused by a number of conditions.
Many foods and drinks may help decrease bloating by reducing constipation, alleviating inflammation, and supporting a healthy fluid balance.
Chewing your food thoroughly, taking certain supplements, and determining whether certain ingredients contribute to your digestive issues may also help relieve bloating.
If your symptoms are serious or persist, consider consulting a doctor for personalized recommendations and treatment.