Updated: Dec 19, 2019
We’ve all been there- whether it’s something you ate, how you ate it or what was going on while you were eating it, there’s nothing fun about bloating.
Bloating is your body’s ways of letting you know that something isn't right. At times it can be pretty straightforward and easy to work out why especially when you eat unusual foods or you make changes to your daily food habits. Other times it’s not as easy to figure out the reason behind bloating and some detective work might be needed.
If only it was as easy as asking your belly exactly what’s irritating it. The truth is that bloating can be caused by a myriad of different reasons, from such simpler ones, like not chewing your food properly to more complex ones, like chronic digestive symptoms linked to SIBO or candida.
The good news is that there are pretty helpful and simple natural hacks to help you reduce bloating within minutes. So instead of reaching for your elastic-band trousers or the baggy jumper, check out some of my favourite bloating-busting hacks:
Sip a cup of your favourite herbal tea
If bloating is consuming all your headspace and is making you feel miserable, first stop- herbal tea. Some of my favourite go-to teas to effectively fight bloating:
Ginger- used for centuries in Ayurvedic tradition for a range of ailments. The oily resin from ginger rhizome contains bioactive ingredients that help gastric emptying and therefore reduces bloating effectively.
Peppermint- extremely useful if you experience IBS- like symptoms, yet the relaxing effect of peppermint helps reduce bloating, gas and constipation in no time.
Fennel- another herb that has gained popularity through centuries, all over the world. Fennel seeds are incredibly helpful in alleviating bloating, constipation and gas. Use crushed seeds to brew tea, as they release antiseptic oils.
Chamomile- well known for its sedative effects, chamomile works similarly on the gut: its powerful relaxant effects help alleviate pain and discomfort of bloating and helps reduce gas and flatulence.
Pur-eh tea- this favourite in Chinese traditional medicine goes through a fermentation process, which creates beneficial enzymes that support breaking down fats and undigested particles easier.
Take digestive enzymes
If you experience bloating straight after most meals or have detected particular foods that make bloating worse, try taking some digestive enzymes with those meals or straight after to break them down easier.
Although a really effective way to manage bloating, I would only suggest using this short-term as digestive enzymes do not fix the root cause of the problem. If they work really effectively, it may mean that you need to chew your food better, stop drinking liquids with meals or that your body is not breaking down food properly, therefore also not absorbing nutrients optimally.
Fill up on H2O
One of the most common reasons for bloating is dehydration. Because once your body is dehydrated, it holds on to fluids and creates bloating. Dehydration also creates constipation, which leads to bloating and toxic bowel that is literally poisoning your body and toxins are unable to clear out properly.
Drink plenty of water away from meals (15 min before a meal or 30 min after), aiming for 2-2.5L daily. Once bloating gets unbearable, increase your water intake to flush the toxins out.
Stretch and do some gentle yoga
The body responds particularly well to stretching and yoga when it's bloated. Certain poses, such as forward folds, gentle twists and breathing exercises gently massage and stimulate the intestines, which can effectively reduce the bloat.
Yoga and stretching is perfect to reduce stress-related bloating, as it nourishes and soothes the body, allowing it to drop into the parasympathetic nervous system, aka ‘rest and digest’.
Meditate and breathe
Did you know that meditation can physically reduce bloating? Similarly to yoga, meditation allows the body to relax, relieve stress and lower cortisol levels, which is often responsible for stress-induced bloating. When cortisol is in action, it promotes the sympathetic nervous system (aka ‘fight or flight’) and tends to mute or alter the action of other hormones, including hunger/ satiety and digestion hormones.
So if you still are a stranger to meditation, give it a go, even if it is purely to reduce the bloating and digestive discomfort.
Pop some probiotics
There's no doubt that a probiotic supplement can reduce bloating and improve your digestion long term. Building a resilient gut flora normally is a much longer process than just a couple of minutes or even days and this may not be the fastest-acting method to reduce bloating in minutes.
However, certain foods containing beneficial probiotic bacteria can create digestive relief quite rapidly. Try sipping some dairy or water kefir for relief of bloating and soothing of the digestive tract.
Another incredible spice, used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Quite frankly I think that asafoetida is one of the best-kept secrets. If you had an Indian curry, you must have had asafoetida as it is a staple in the Indian kitchen.
Asafoetida helps break down the phytates in beans, it alleviates and prevents digestive upset. Add a smidgen to dishes that require some digestive effort, such as foods high in vegetable fibre, bean and lentils dishes and meat stews.
In conclusion, there is a handful of natural methods to alleviate bloating and digestive discomfort that only take minutes of your time, yet seriously improve your wellbeing for the rest of the day.
Nevertheless, it's important to get down to the root cause of the problem and make sure that bloating isn't your ‘new normal’. If you need some help figuring out the root cause and do some detective work, get in touch with a nutritional therapist who can support you.