How to Fight Bloating?
Anuja Dani

Anuja Dani

May 12Nutrition

How to Fight Bloating?

Bloating, also known as abdominal bloating, occurs when the abdomen protrudes, often accompanied by an uncomfortable tightness. It majorly occurs after eating a large meal, while there could be other associated causes of bloating like gluten intolerance, gas, or water retention before and during the menstruation cycle in women.

Some symptoms of bloating are :

  • excessive gas
  • pain or tightness around the stomach
  • frequent belching
  • abdominal bubbles 
  • long and frequent burping

Abdominal bloating is common among both adults and children.

Why does bloating happen?

1. Swallowing gas and air

Gas accumulates in the digestive tract when you swallow air while eating or drinking or when undigested food breaks down. Usually, burping helps the swallowed air leave the body. However, sometimes, swallowing air can cause bloating when an individual :

  • Eats or drinks fast
  • Smokes or consumes too much alcohol
  • Wears loose dentures

2. Medical causes

Medical causes of bloating may include:

  • inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • heartburn or acidity
  • food intolerance
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • weight gain
  • hormonal changes (especially for women during their menstrual cycle)
  • eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa
  • mental health factors such as anxiety, stress, depression, etc.
  • certain medicinal drugs

3. Critical health conditions

Abdominal bloating can also be a symptom of several serious conditions, that may include:

  • accumulation of pathologic fluid in the abdominal cavity caused by liver disease, cancer kidney failure, or congestive heart failure
  • gluten intolerance (celiac disease)
  • pancreatic insufficiency, caused by the inability of the pancreas to produce sufficient digestive enzymes
  • damaged GI tract with the escape of gas, bacterial presence in the GI, etc. 


What are the symptoms of bloating?

Some of the visible symptoms of bloating may include a protruded stomach, stretching of the skin around the abdomen, ill-fitting of clothing around the waist region, etc. Sometimes, factors like extreme discomfort, nausea, stomach rumbles, etc. may also accompany bloating.

How to fight to bloat?

When bloating is not too serious, home remedies, lifestyle changes, eating habits, etc. can help manage it effectively. The following tips may help people to get rid of a bloated belly:

1. Remain physically active -Physical activity like brisk walking, taking stairs instead of the elevator, etc. helps in regular and normal bowel movements which help release gas and pass stool easily. When bloating causes constipation, getting the bowels to move becomes all the more important to ease it.  

2. Practice yoga- Certain yoga poses like the child’s pose, happy baby pose, forward bending pose, and squats, help to release the gas easily by positing the abdominal muscles in such a way that it creates slight pressure on the region which helps release the gas and eventually reduce bloating.

3. Use peppermint or gas relief capsules- Peppermint oil capsules are known to improve indigestion. It relaxes intestinal muscles which allow the gas and stool to pass easily. However, people prone to heartburn or acidity should avoid peppermint capsules. Simethicone liquid and pills are anti-gas medications that can help to move excess air out of the digestive tract. They can also be taken to get relief from bloating. 

4. Try abdominal massage followed by a warm-water bath- Massaging the abdomen can help in effective bowel movement and reduce belly bloat. The following steps can be followed for a calming massage:

  • Place the hands above the right hip bone.
  • Rub in a circular motion putting light pressure toward the right side of the ribcage.
  • Rub across the upper belly area toward the left rib cage.
  • Move down toward the left hip bone.
  • Repeat the same process twice or thrice. 

If the massage causes any pain, one must discontinue it immediately. If it works, one must take a warm water bath to soak and relax. It helps to reduce stress levels, which may allow the GI tract to function better and reduce bloating-

5. Cut down on salt- An excess of sodium causes the body to retain water. Many people experience swollen and bloated bellies, hands, and feet because of this. Hence, cutting down on salt intake may be effective in preventing bloating. 

6. Increase fibre gradually- Increasing fibre intake may help to treat bloating. Eating more fibre helps to prevent constipation and help to treat bloating. Most health experts recommend a daily fibre intake of 25-30 grams (g) for females and 38-43 g for males. However, eating too much or too quick fibre intake can cause even more gas and bloat. Therefore, while increasing the fibre intake, start slowly and increase it gradually over a few weeks to allow the body to adjust to it. 

7. Eat at regular intervals- Many people experience bloating directly after a big meal. Taking a gap after one big meal gives sufficient time for the gas to build up in the stomach. One can thus try to have several smaller meals every day, to keep the digestive system functioning better.

8. Replace carbonated drinks with water- Carbonated drinks like soda contain gas that can build up in the stomach, causing rumbling or bloating. Either reduce drinking carbonated drinks or if possible, replace them with water, since sufficient water intake eliminates these issues and helps to treat constipation too.

9. Try probiotics- Probiotics are good bacteria that live in the intestines, which may help to regulate the colon bacteria which is capable of producing gas and causing bloating. Adding a probiotic supplement in your day to day or having probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt and pickles will help cope with bloating.

10. Eliminate food allergies and intolerances, if any- Food allergies and intolerances are relatively common and may cause excess gas production, bloating, and other symptoms. Food allergies can be effectively treated under a doctor’s supervision.

Some common foods and ingredients which might cause bloating may include:

  • Eggs
  • Wheat and gluten
  • Lactose and fructose (part of indigestible carbs known as FODMAPs.)

FODMAP intolerance is one of the most common causes of bloating and abdominal pain.

11. Try a Low-FODMAP Diet- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common digestive disorder with no identified cause. Common symptoms include bloating, discomfort, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and/or constipation. A low-FODMAP diet has been shown to lead to major reductions in symptoms such as bloating, at least in IBS patients. If someone has to bloat, a low-FODMAP diet may be followed. Some common high-FODMAP foods include:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Watermelon
  • Wheat
  • Legumes
  • Beans

12. Take digestive enzyme supplements- Supplemental enzymes can help break down indigestible carbohydrates and eventually reduce bloating. They may include:

  • Lactase: An enzyme that breaks down lactose (useful for people with lactose intolerance).
  • Beano: Contains the enzyme called alpha-galactosidase, which can help break down indigestible carbohydrates from food sources.

In many cases, these supplements may provide almost immediate relief. See a doctor in case of a chronic and/or serious condition. If you have chronic bloating that causes severe health problems, definitely see a doctor. In most cases, bloating can be reduced or even eliminated with certain dietary and lifestyle changes. 

Which foods can help fight to bloat? 

  1. Ginger- Ginger contains an enzyme called zingibain, which helps break down protein to support healthy digestion.
  2. Bananas- Bananas are an excellent source of fibre and potassium that help a healthy fluid balance. In turn, this may prevent bloating and water retention.
  3. Oats- Oats are loaded with a fibre called beta-glucan, which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
  4. Turmeric- Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which may also improve gut health and reduce symptoms of IBS, including gas, bloating, and constipation.
  5. Kiwi- Kiwi contains fibre, potassium, and actinidin, an enzyme that improves digestion and faster bowel movement, eventually reducing bloating, stomach pain, and constipation.
  6. Fennel- Fennel is known to have antispasmodic properties that help relax the muscles in the intestinal tract, increase urine production and reduce water retention to provide release gas and bloating.
  7. Apples- Apples have high water content and are rich in potassium and soluble fibre called pectin which can ease the movement of food as it passes through your digestive tract to treat constipation and bloating and maintain hydration levels in your body.
  8. Pineapple- Pineapple is rich in vitamin C, manganese, B vitamins, and an enzyme called bromelain, which helps to treat digestive disorders, fight inflammation, and fight bloat and swelling.
  9. Papaya- Papaya has high water content, plenty of fibre, and an enzyme called papain, which helps the body break down amino acids, encourages healthy digestion, and eliminating bloating.
  10. Green Tea- Green tea is rich in antioxidants like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which can neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation in your body. The caffeine content in green tea stimulates digestive tract movement and can reduce bloating.
  11. Cucumber- Cucumbers are rich in water content and can help ensure you stay hydrated. This may prevent water retention and alleviate bloating caused by dehydration.
  12. Yogurt- Yogurt is rich in probiotics, that may improve stool frequency and reduce bloating and abdominal distension as a result of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  13. Avocados- Avocados contain good amounts of folate, vitamins C and K, and potassium, which help to regulate fluid balance and sodium levels to prevent water retention and help prevent constipation and bloating.

Final Words

Bloating can be caused by several conditions. A little awareness of your diet may help decrease bloating by reducing constipation and encouraging a healthy fluid balance. Chewing your food thoroughly, cutting down on unnecessary flavours and spices, and taking certain supplements, all contribute to relieving bloating. However, if your symptoms are serious, consider consulting a doctor for the right treatment.

Disclaimer: This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

Proactive For Her is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalised, and confidential healthcare solutions. We offer out-patient care, diagnostic services and programs for various health concerns of Indian women, across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause.