Bloating sucks. It makes you feel lethargic, unmotivated, it causes even stretchy pants to feel tight, and it can lead to an incredibly uncomfortable feeling for hours on end. Belly bloat can happen to everyone – it doesn’t matter if you’re crazy fit with abs. Your belly can still bloat.
Luckily, bloating is one symptom everyone can do something about! For most people, it’s as simple as being mindful of what they eat.
But before we dive into the foods that reduce bloating, let’s first look at what causes your gut to rebel.
WHAT CAUSES BLOATING
Belly bloat is caused by many different things ranging from underlying health conditions and medications to the types of food you eat. However, some causes are more common than others.
For most people, belly bloat is caused by three main factors: dehydration, food intolerance, and hormone changes.
The human body is interesting and no two people respond to food in the same way. Food that one person’s digestive tract breaks down without a problem can cause major bloating in another.
However, many people see issues with dairy, grains, and even salt intake. If you’re getting enough water, but still having major bloating issues, it could be time to look into your diet.
Don’t worry…we’ll go over some foods that reduce bloating in a bit.
Unfortunately, most people are in a state of constant dehydration. In our busy lives, it can be tough to make sure we drink enough water each day.
When you don’t drink enough water (half your body weight in ounces of water), your body starts holding on to the water already in your system. This causes your belly to bloat, but may also cause your joints to feel stiff, fingers to swell, and leave you feeling sluggish.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to check if you’re hydrated or not: the pee test. When you’re drinking enough water, your pee should be mostly clear. If you’re dehydrated, it’ll be dark yellow.
Next time you go to the bathroom, pay attention to what’s in the toilet bowl. If your pee is deep yellow, start drinking more water. You’ll probably see an improvement in your bloating too!
Yes, if it’s that time of the month, it’s completely normal to experience bloating. When your hormones go crazy right before your period, your body responds by creating gas.
For most women, hormone-caused bloating will end when their period does. However, if it doesn’t stop, you’ll need to evaluate what else could contribute to your belly bloat.
When you take in air quickly after getting your heart rate up, it’s not uncommon for those fast breaths to leave your stomach feeling full. This is because you’re also swallowing some of the air as you breathe in.
If you feel bloated while working out, try belching. It may sound gross, but you’ll feel better almost immediately. Don’t hold it in—it will just make you feel more uncomfortable during the workout.
FOODS THAT REDUCE BLOATING
Believe it or not, eating the right foods can not only help reduce bloating quickly, but they can even keep you from bloating in the first place. Here are a few of the best foods to start incorporating into your diet.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar, more commonly shortened to ACV can work wonders for your gut. The vinegar helps soothe gastric upset by balancing the production of stomach acid in your gut.
Best of all, it boosts the good bacteria inside your digestive tract which helps your body break down all sorts of foods. The more you can digest completely, the less likely you are to feel bloated after eating.
Dairy may upset in some people, but yogurt can be a different story. Yogurt has tons of beneficial probiotics that can help promote a healthy gut and digestive system. These same cultures are found in dairy-free yogurts as well, so you can still reap the benefits if you’re lactose intolerant.
If you can’t handle dairy (or even if you can), I recommend taking a good quality probiotic every day!
Potassium and sodium must be in balance in your body.
Since bananas are naturally high in potassium, eating them on a regular basis can help give your body the resources it needs to reduce water retention and get rid of excess sodium from other foods.
Incorporate bananas into a smoothie for a delicious breakfast treat or grab one as a snack to help relieve bloat in the long-run.
Since dehydration is one of the leading causes of bloat, it’s only natural that foods high in water content would help. Cucumbers are the perfect hydrating food to add to your diet without increasing sugar or your daily calories significantly.
Slice one up and eat it in a salad or add a few slices to your glass of water for a nice crisp taste. And don’t forget to keep drinking lots of water!
Avocados are a wonderful source of healthy fat, but they also pack a punch when it comes to reducing the symptoms of bloat. Like bananas, avocados are naturally high in potassium and can help keep your gut happy when eaten regularly.
KIMCHI OR SAUERKRAUT
Fermented foods help improve your gut health as they’re jam-packed with prebiotics designed to keep your gut bacteria happy and healthy.
Both kimchi and sauerkraut are traditionally fermented and full of many of the living cultures found in high-quality yogurt, but without the sugar. Both kimchi and sauerkraut make the perfect toppings for salads, but can also be enjoyed on their own.
The key here is making sure you purchase living kimchi or sauerkraut. If the label says that it’s been pasteurized, the beneficial living cultures will have been killed off before the food hit the shelves.
Sometimes, you need foods that reduce bloat quickly rather than foods that help prevent it over time. Ginger is one of the best.
This natural spice has been used for thousands of years to soothe upset stomachs and reduce bloating and inflammation in the gut. Make your own ginger tea for a fast-acting bloat-busting elixir. Even better, you’ll be better hydrated!
Apples are a rich source of pectin, a soluble fiber.
Pectin bypasses digestion in your small intestine and is then broken down by the friendly bacteria in your colon (5).
It increases stool volume and is therefore commonly used to resolve constipation and diarrhea. It has also been shown to decrease the risk of intestinal infections, as well as inflammation in the colon (5, 6).
SUMMARYThe pectin found in apples helps increase stool bulk and movement through your digestive tract. It may also decrease inflammation in your colon.
Kefir is a cultured dairy product made by adding kefir “grains” to milk. These “grains” result from mixing yeast and bacteria with milk and appear to have digestive benefits.
Like the probiotics in yogurt, kefir’s cultures aid the digestion of lactose, decreasing some of the negative side effects associated with lactose intolerance such as bloating, cramping and gas (10, 11).
In multiple studies, kefir caused an increase in healthy, digestion-improving gut bacteria and a simultaneous drop in harmful bacteria (12, 13).
Kefir consumption has also been associated with decreased inflammation in your gut, further enhancing the digestion process (12).
SUMMARYKefir’s unique ingredient — “grains” made from yeast and bacteria — appear to improve digestion and decrease inflammation in your gut.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, which causes them to form a gelatin-like substance in your stomach, once consumed. They work like a prebiotic, supporting the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and therein contributing to healthy digestion (7, 8).
Their fiber content also helps promote bowel regularity and healthy stools.
SUMMARYThe fiber content of chia seeds can assist digestion by promoting the growth of probiotics in your gut and keeping you regular.
Beetroot, otherwise known as beets, is a good source of fiber.
One cup (136 grams) of beets contains 3.4 grams of fiber. Fiber bypasses digestion and heads to your colon, where it feeds your healthy gut bacteria or adds bulk to your stool — which both improves digestion (27, 28).
A few popular ways to eat beets include roasted, mixed in a salad, pickled or blended into a smoothie.
SUMMARYBeetroot’s nutrients can help improve digestion by helping feed friendly gut bacteria and adding bulk to your stool.
Ginger is a traditional ingredient in Eastern medicine that helps improve digestion and prevent nausea. Many pregnant women use it to treat morning sickness (30, 31).
From a digestion standpoint, this yellowish root has been shown to accelerate gastric emptying (32, 33).
By moving food from your stomach to your small intestine quicker, ginger reduces your risk of heartburn, nausea and stomach discomfort.
SUMMARYGinger appears to expedite food’s movement through your stomach, easing certain side effects associated with slow digestion. It has also been used to treat nausea, including morning sickness during pregnancy.
Green vegetables are an excellent source of insoluble fiber.
This type of fiber adds bulk to your stool, quickening its pace through your digestive tract (7).
Green vegetables are also a good source of magnesium, which can help relieve constipation by improving muscle contractions in your gastrointestinal tract (34, 35).
Some of the most common dark green vegetables that provide this benefit are spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and other leafy greens.
In addition, a 2016 study revealed an unusual sugar found in green leafy vegetables that feeds good bacteria in your gut. This sugar is thought to aid digestion while also impairing some of the bad bacteria that can cause illnesses (36).
SUMMARYGreen vegetables play a role in healthy digestion by providing fiber and magnesium to your diet, as well as feeding good bacteria in your gut.
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in your body (42, 43).
People with inflammatory bowel disease, food intolerances and other digestive disorders often have inflammation in the gut. Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce this inflammation and thereby improve digestion (44, 45).
SUMMARYThe omega-3s found in salmon may reduce inflammation in your gut, thus improving your digestive process.