Ever felt any uncomfortable belly bloating after eating? You’re not alone. In fact, around 10-25% of healthy people say they experience frequent, uncomfortable bloating on a regular basis. Recognising bloating is one thing; devising a strategy to solve your after-meal discomfort is another.
Not to fear – we’ve delved into the latest research to uncover 7 foolproof strategies that will relieve bloat symptoms no matter how frequently you experience them. From trigger foods to peppermint tea, here’s your complete guide to stopping the bloat.
An empty stomach is about the size of a clenched fist. As we eat and drink, it expands to accommodate the new contents, partly digesting the food before passing it into the small intestine. However, bloating can occur if you have lots of gas in your stomach due to fizzy drinks, certain vegetables, or swallowing air (aerophagia).
The most common symptom of bloating is the feeling of a full belly. In some cases, bloating is so severe that it causes pain or even shortness of breath.
You’ll often see a distended stomach and may experience tummy rumbling or excess flatulence. Common causes of bloating include:
- Coeliac disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food intolerances
Removing or managing the underlying cause of bloating is the #1 way to reduce bloat symptoms. Anything that causes a build-up of gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, or methane in your gut leads to bloating.
Consider these causes:
- Food intolerance, e.g., lactose intolerance or fructose intolerance
- Swallowing excess air (aerophagia)
- Eating high fermentation foods, e.g., fibre, alcohol, sugar, and FODMAPs
- Chronic health conditions, e.g., irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or endometriosis
- Bowel obstruction
- Gut microbiome imbalances
- Abdominal fluid retention (ascites) – a sign of heart disease or liver failure
- Psychological stress
Bacterial diversity is key to excellent gut health. That means eating the right balance of foods. Feeding your gut the wrong foods can produce excess gas and bloating. Instead, try a balanced diet, including:
- Whole grains, e.g., rice, barley, maize, rye, oats, buckwheat, quinoa. Rich in fibre, these foods support gut mobility and reduce the risk of bloating after eating.
- Fermented foods, like sauerkraut or kimchi, are the superfoods of gut health.
- Allium vegetables, such as garlic, onions, leeks, and chives, feed the microorganisms in your gut to maintain a healthy balance.
- Beans and pulses (think kidney beans, haricot beans, or chickpeas) are excellent sources of fibre.
Lactose is a sugar found in milk. In Western countries, most individuals can digest lactose into its component sugars. That’s not true worldwide or even in all Westerners. In lactose intolerant individuals, the undigested lactose is fermented by bacteria in the gut, releasing gas, causing bloating, flatulence, belching, and even diarrhoea.
What to find out if you’re lactose intolerant? Try our Individual Ultimate Test – it not only tests for lactose sensitivity, but also hundreds of other foods and substances that can cause bloating.
Got a negative balance of gut bacteria? There’s a simple solution. Try a probiotic supplement. Probiotics either come as a ready-made supplement, e.g., Yakult, a gut-powered capsule containing a blend of friendly bacteria, or via a fermented food.
Some of the best natural probiotic-rich foods include:
Nothing soothes an upset stomach faster than a cup of peppermint tea. Talk to any gastroenterologist, and they’ll tell you that peppermint has a better evidence base for IBS than antispasmodic medications.
Drink it as tea or take a few drops of peppermint oil. Not convinced? A 2016 study involving 72 people with IBS found that 180 mg of peppermint oil capsules taken three times daily for four weeks reduced bloating and other symptoms.
Don’t think you swallow air? You’d be surprised. Whether we’re anxious, eat too fast, chew gum, or drink carbonated beverages, swallowing air is a key cause of bloating. In one study, individuals with functional dyspepsia (aka indigestion) were compared to those who swallow air. Common symptoms included belching, abdominal pain, bloating, and abdominal distension. Anxiety was much higher in the air swallowing group than in those with functional dyspepsia.
Practising relaxation techniques, reducing fizzy drinks, and eating slower can all help relieve aerophagia by lowering the gas you ingest.
If exercise were a drug, everybody would take it. Not only does it manage stress – reducing air swallowing – it also alleviates bloating after eating. Light exercises, like walking or cycling, have been shown to stop bloating in people with IBS4.
Furthermore, exercise is beneficial for your overall health, weight management, and alleviating other chronic conditions. Sick of constant bloating after eating? It’s time to take action. Our comprehensive dietary sensitivity test checks for lactose intolerance along with 975 other potential triggers. Uncover what’s really causing your discomfort and reclaim control over your digestive health. Order your test today and start your journey to a happier, healthier you!