There’s nothing worse than spending your days feeling bloated, heavy and sluggish. No one wants to walk around all day feeling like someone’s blown up a helium balloon in their digestive tract.
Bloating can be stubborn, painful and seemingly impossible to get rid of. What’s worse is that many people accept bloating as a normal digestive symptom.
The truth is, you shouldn’t be bloated after every meal you eat, or become more bloated as the day goes on. Being bloated regularly is your body’s way of telling you something is “off” in your digestive tract, and it needs your attention.
Abdominal bloating is often categorized as a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. The problem with IBS though is that it’s a very general, vague term for digestive disorders that are believed to have no known cause.
From a holistic perspective, there’s always a logical reason for digestive symptoms to occur. In fact, the most common causes of bloating are linked to specific factors in a person’s diet or lifestyle.
If you’re feeling defeated about how to get rid of bloating, don’t give up hope yet – I may have some answers for you!
How to Get Rid of Bloating: The DIY Guide
Common Food Sensitivities and Bloating
The first place to look to get rid of bloating is with food sensitivities.
Our digestive systems are naturally built to break down the nutrients in the foods we eat (such as carbs, fats and proteins) with digestive enzymes. However, there are certain foods our body can have difficulty digesting based on the type of enzyme the food requires to be digested.
Bloating is one of the first signs the body gives us when it is having trouble digesting the foods we’re eating.
Why Are We Sensitive to Dairy?
When we’re infants, our bodies produce an enzyme called lactase, which helps digest the lactose in breast milk. As we get older and no longer have the need to breastfeed, our bodies produce less lactase.
However, cow’s milk still exists in our food supply, and many people continue to eat dairy products as a regular part of their diet. But without the proper enzymes to break down the protein in dairy, how can your body properly digest it?
Poorly digested food can lead to sluggish digestion which results in bloating.
The Truth About Gluten Sensitivities
You can have a gluten sensitivity without being diagnosed with celiac disease (an irritable bowel disease of the small intestine that’s triggered by eating gluten).
Gluten is a very common and particularly harmful offender to the gut because it promotes intestinal inflammation (3). The body also has a harder time breaking it down and recognizing it as a protein. This is because the structure of our wheat has changed over time.
Today, we’re not eating the same wheat our parents ate years ago. Instead, we’re eating a Frankenstein (or hybridized) version of wheat whose structure has been manipulated to withstand weather conditions, grow quicker and repel bugs.
By changing the structure of wheat, we’ve also changed the type of proteins found in wheat, which the body isn’t well equipped to digest.
If you’re stuck on how to get rid of bloating, but still have dairy products and wheat in your diet, removing both of these foods completely is a great place to start.
I recommend leaving them out of your diet for a minimum of three weeks to determine whether they’re linked to your digestive symptoms.
Other Common Causes of Bloating (And Their Solutions)
So, what if you’ve already removed wheat and dairy from your diet for more than three weeks, but you’re still bloated? Here are other common dietary and lifestyle factors that can cause the bloat, and their solutions.
Drinking Beverages During Meals
As previously mentioned, your body secretes digestive enzymes to help digest the food you eat. Drinking large sips of ice cold beverages around meal time may paralyze those digestive enzymes and dampen your digestive fire, so to speak.
The Solution: Drink most of your daily water intake away from meals. If you absolutely must have a little something to wash down the food during meals, take small sips of room temperature water.
Adding apple cider vinegar, lemon or lime to your water (and sipping on this BEFORE your meal) can also help reduce bloating because the acid in citrus helps stimulate gastric acid (stomach acid) production which promotes better digestion.
Chewing gum may not be the first thing you’d think of that causes bloating, but it can.
Digestion begins in your mouth, not your stomach. So when you chew gum, your body actually thinks you’re about to eat a full meal.
In response to the chewing mechanism, your stomach will secrete gastric acid in preparation to digest that meal. Since you’re only swallowing air, your body has no need for stomach acid. An overproduction of stomach acid can lead to bloating.
The Solution: Avoid chewing gum. Instead, chew on raw veggies that are rich in digestive enzymes to help promote digestion and reduce bloating.
A Lack of Friendly Intestinal Bacteria
If you’ve recently taken antibiotics, or you have a diet high in refined sugar, a lack of good bacteria in your digestive tract may be the reason why you’re bloated.
If you have a lack of friendly gut bacteria, bad bacteria flourishes in your gut instead. The bad bacteria impair your overall digestive function and can lead to chronic bloating.
The Solution: To help encourage the growth of good bacteria in your intestinal tract, avoid eating refined sugar (this is what feeds the bad bacteria). It’s recommended to increase the amount of fermented foods in your diet, such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir.
Taking a high quality probiotic supplement can also provide your gut with a more concentrated dose of good bacteria to help improve digestive symptoms.
Eating in a Rush
The average modern-day lifestyle is chaotic at best. We’re constantly running from appointments to meetings, working full time and trying to fit a week’s worth of tasks into one day.
Not only is this stressful, but it also leaves us almost no time to thoroughly chew our food or eat a proper meal.
Unfortunately, no good can come of multitasking while eating and swallowing bits of unchewed food. Poorly chewed food creates more work for your body during digestion, which leads to bloating.
The Solution: The best solution is to set aside time where you can focus on eating, and nothing else. Your food is considered properly chewed once it’s in the form of a paste, and is no longer recognizable.
A Lack of Fiber from Fruits and Vegetables
Bloating is a sign of a sluggish digestive system. If you suspect your bloating may have to do with irregularity (read: not pooping at least once a day), increasing your fiber through fruits and vegetables can be helpful to get things moving through your digestive tract.
The Solution: Start increasing your fiber by introducing green smoothies into your diet, or simply by having an apple each day. Apples are a great source of insoluble and soluble fibre that can get things moving quickly, especially when eaten on an empty stomach.
Water works with fiber to move waste through your digestive tract. If you’re dehydrated, the stool you’re supposed to be eliminating has a harder time passing through. This can cause you to become “backed up” and bloated.
The Solution: Make sure you’re drinking enough water each day by keeping a water bottle with you at all times and drinking from it before you get thirsty.
Recommended water intake: Your body weight in lbs / 2 = oz water
(For example: 140 lbs / 2 = 70 oz water)
Don’t like drinking plain water? Spruce things up with these flavor combos.
Alternative Food Sensitivities
While wheat and dairy are the most common food sensitivities, they aren’t the only ones.
Soy, corn, eggs, legumes and other high fiber foods (such as other grains, brussels sprouts, cabbage or broccoli) can also cause bloating.
The Solution: Pay attention to how you feel after eating by keeping a food and symptom journal. I recommend clients keep track of their meals and symptoms for at least a week to make connections between possible sensitivities.
Other Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Bloating Fast
Since bloating is a digestive issue, other natural remedies to help get rid of bloating include:
- Drinking herbal tea with digestive supportive herbs such as chamomile, ginger, licorice or dandelion
- Drinking pure aloe vera juice or gel to soothe your digestive tract
- Deep breathing before and during meals
- Drinking apple cider vinegar before meals and throughout the day
- Regular gentle exercise, such as yoga
- Taking digestive enzymes
- Following basic food combining rules
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Bloating is a digestive symptom that can be linked to various issues, including leaky gut, so it’s definitely a symptom you don’t want to ignore.
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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.