Want to know how to reduce bloating? If you're feeling sluggish and uncomfortable there are some simple tricks you can try to beat your bloated belly!
There are many causes of bloated stomachs - and it's actually one of the most common early signs of pregnancy, thanks to the hormones relaxing the muscles in the womb. Other causes might leave you searching for ways to get rid of trapped wind or improve gut health. For many, it's a normal part of life and nothing to worry about, but whatever the reason, it's an uncomfortable feeling that leaves many searching for fast relief.
Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy tells us, "Bloating is a feeling of pressure in the abdomen that makes it feel tight and uncomfortable. Bouts of bloating tend to occur intermittently, but they can be very frequent. If bloating is frequent, painful or persistent, it’s best to seek medical advice." Dr Lee adds, "Women are more often affected than men, which is one reason doctors think it may be influenced by female hormones."
With this in mind, we've spoken to the experts to put together a list of 15 natural remedies for bloating. Even if you've been indulging in all the festive food this Christmas, you can kiss goodbye to that inflated belly without the ridiculous exercise regime, thanks to these top tips.
How to reduce bloating - 15 natural remedies
Turmeric is a spice with a number of health benefits, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a great natural remedy for bloating too.
Dr Deborah Lee explains the scientific evidence that backs this up. "In a 2022 randomised trial of subjects with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), the group who took a turmeric extract along with following a low FODMAP diet were found to have significantly improved bloating compared to those who followed the low FODMAP diet only."
A low FODMAP diet cuts out certain carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion in order to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of IBS.
Have you ever considered trying an abdominal massage when you've been feeling bloated as a form of bloating and gas relief? The University of Michigan explains, "Massaging your stomach can help to move stool along the inside of your colon. It may help relieve symptoms of tightness, pressure, cramping and bloating."
Brian Huwe and Mary Beth Ladenheim, acupuncturists in Virgina, suggest a simple self-massage routine; "Lie comfortably on your back. Place one hand (right hand for women, left hand for men) above your belly button. Place your other hand on top of the first hand. Then move your hands together in a circle around your navel. Do this 100 times. Then reverse the direction of the circle and repeat 100 more times."
Make sure you're lying down and don't do anything that feels uncomfortable. Slow, deep breathing will also help whilst you're massaging.
You should also bear in mind that this might not be an appropriate remedy if you are pregnant as it is not recommended to lie on your back. It's best to talk to your doctor if you are thinking of getting a massage when pregnant.
3. Mint tea
Peppermint tea is widely recognised for helping soothe digestive issues, and bloating is no different. This is because peppermint tea contains menthol oil, which is said to relieve spasms in muscle tissue which can therefore relax your gut, allowing you to release any pent-up gas. This was demonstrated by a study in the Minerva Gastroenterology journal, which found that peppermint oil resulted in relaxation of the colon during colonoscopy.
Try adding peppermint tea to your post-dinner evening routine to see if it makes a difference to your tummy!
4. Chamomile tea
Chamomile has a whole host of medicinal uses - it's a natural remedy for travel sickness, a hay fever remedy and a natural anxiety remedy too. So it should come as no surprise that it can also help to reduce bloating.
In traditional medicine, chamomile has been used for indigestion, gas, and nausea and preliminary studies suggest that the herb may fight ulcers and abdominal pain too. Dr Deborah Lee explains, "In one 2015 study, a group of IBS were asked to take 10 chamomile drops twice a day at 12-hour intervals, for four weeks. There was a significant improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms after weeks weeks of treatment which was seen to persist two weeks after the drops were discontinued."
If you're suffering from uncomfortable bloating, try drinking some chamomile tea - yu can get the teabags at most supermarkets.
If you think that the cause of your bloating is constipation, then slowly introducing more fibre to your diet is important.
We don't mean going and filling up on bread and cereal, either. Apples, bananas, oranges and strawberries all have around three to four grams of fibre, plus carrots, beetroot and broccoli are all fibre-rich too without making bloating even worse.
Dr Deborah Lee explains, "Fruit and veg are a great source of dietary fibre. The gastrointestinal tract needs fibre to work correctly. Fibre bulks out the intestinal contents and ensures they pass along at the correct speed. Too little fibre means the transit is too slow, causing constipation."
Time to tuck in if you're looking for how to reduce bloating.
6. Prioritise sleep
Being a parent and getting eight hours of sleep a night don't go hand in hand. Raising a tiny human while completing all of life's other demands certainly doesn't leave much time for rest! But if you're suffering with feeling bloated, it might be worth looking at how you can squeeze in some more shut eye.
Nutritionist Jenna Hope explains, "Sleep plays a crucial role in supporting a beneficial gut bacteria which can impact how well you digest food. Additionally, sleep helps to calm down the sympathetic nervous system and manage stress levels which can be a significant factor in bloating. Where possible try to aim for 7-9 hours sleep per night."
She adds, "Sometimes, you’re better off to drop the early morning workout for a few extra hours in bed!"
There's a reason why your grandma always told you to eat a ginger biscuit when you felt sick as a child! Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-sickness and antioxidant purposes, and this makes it another great natural remedy for bloating.
In a study published in BioMed Central's Complementary Medicine and Therapies journal, patient who took 500 mg of ginger three times a day had a statistically significant improvement in nausea, constipation, and bloating, compared to those who took a placebo.
Try some ginger tea or grating fresh ginger into your foods next time you're feeling uncomfortably bloated - you only need a small amount!
8. Low FODMAP diet
Dr Deborah Lee explains, "FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that are particularly difficult to digest and are fermented in the gut leading to the production of gases."
She adds, "A low FODMAP diet may be advised for anyone with bloating to see if their symptoms improve, but it is often a useful way to help symptoms for IBS sufferers or those with SIBO. It's a good idea to discuss this with your GP before getting started."
Remember that this diet is not generally recommended if you are pregnant, as your increased nutritional needs during this time may not be met if you are following certain diets.
9. Mindful eating
It's all very well eating the food that promises to reduce bloating, but the way you eat them is important too. Registered Nutritionist and author of How to Stay Healthy Jenna Hope says, "Eating mindlessly i.e. when we’re distracted with emails, scrolling on our phones or watching TV can impair our body’s ability to process and digest food effectively. As a result, bits of partially digested food can enter the gut which in turn can contribute to bloating."
She advises, "Where possible try to focus on your food and avoid distractions whilst eating."
Tips for mindful eating:
- Listen to your body, and stop eating when you feel full
- Eating more slowly and avoid rushing your meals
- Eliminating distractions such as the TV and your phone
- Focus on the flavours and texture of the food, and how it makes you feel
10. Change the way you eat
As well as mindful eating, there are several other ways you can change the way you eat to reduce the chances of bloating after a meal. This includes eating smaller meals more often and making sure to chew your food properly.
Dr Deborah Lee says that eating four to six small meals a day as opposed to three large meals "means your stomach and intestines have less to deal with at mealtimes", which can help with bloating.
She adds that you should make sure you drink plenty of water with your meals too. "Keeping the bowel well hydrated is vital, as too little water causes constipation," she explains.
11. Avoid stress
Most parents will know that avoiding stress completely is an almost impossible task - rasiign a tiny human is, understandably, a pretty stressful task. But knowing how to manage stress has a number of physical and mental health benefits - including reducing bloating.
Yoga can be a great stress reliever and the best part is, you can try it for free at home using a YouTube tutorial.
If you're not sure about yoga, why not try some gentle walking? According to a study conducted by Heriot-Watt University in the UK, taking a walk through green spaces could shift your brain into a calmer 'meditative' state - great for reducing the bloating. So grab the dog and go!
12. Try a new diet
Sometimes it's not until we take a step back from our day to day diets that we realise we could be making healthier choices, especially when it comes to preventing bloating. There are some really simple food swaps that could make a massive difference to how your stomach and gut feels day-to-day and whether you become bloated after eating.
Dr Deborah Lee gives her advice on some of the adjustments you can make: "A well-balanced, nutritious diet is one with plenty of protein from lean meat and fish, healthy unsaturated fats, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds. It's essential to get 5-a day – some now say 10-a day, as fruit and vegetables are the main sources of health-giving antioxidants."
Good news! A hardcore workout isn't always the best option for reducing the discomfort of being bloated. Instead, try something that is low intensity, such as yoga or Pilates.
Nutritionist Jenna Hope says, "HIIT session can cause significant spikes to your cortisol levels and stress within the body which in turn can contribute to fuelling bloating. Try to switch up your HIIT sessions for lower intensity options such as yoga, Pilates and walking."
Dr Deborah Lee agrees, and also advocates for yoga. She tells us, "In a 2023 controlled trial, a group of IBS patients were randomly allocated to either a once-a-week online yoga class or an advice-only group, for eight weeks. The results showed that 100% of the group that tried yoga showed a positive response by 12 weeks, as opposed to 22% in the control group. They showed improvement in somatic symptoms, fatigue, and stress, including a reduction in abdominal pain."
Osteopathy is an alternative treatment where a trained osteopath uses manual manipulation to reduce the tension and pressure on certain parts of the body, and it has been shown to help gastrointestinal symptoms including acid reflux, constipation and bloating.
In a study published in the Journal of Digestive Diseases, a group of IBS patients were randomly allocated to an osteopathy group or a group that underwent standard manual manipulations. At the end of the year, the osteopathy group had statistically significant reductions in abdominal distention and abdominal pain. Furthermore, one year later, they still had significantly lower scores for these symptoms than they had at the beginning of the study.
15. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
In more serious cases of bloating, CBT can be used to help manage the psychological factors that may worsen the symptoms of conditions such as IBS.
Dr Deborah Lee tells us, "CBT is a form of talking therapy where the sufferer learns, from a trained advisor more information about the condition, and develops a better understanding along with coping strategies for dealing with the symptoms. The patient is taught relaxation techniques including diaphragmatic breathing which stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing feelings of calmness and relaxation."
She adds, "The person learns about things that may trigger their symptoms, how to avoid these and what to do if symptoms occur."
If you think CBT might be helpful, you can find a therapist on the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) website.
We spoke to the following experts:
Having worked for many years in the NHS, mostly as Lead Clinician within an integrated Community Sexual Health Service, Dr Deborah Lee now works as a health and medical writer, with an emphasis on women's health, including medical content for Dr Fox pharmacy. She has published several books and remains passionate about all aspects of medicine and sexual health.
Jenna Hope is a Registered Nutritionist with an undeniable passion about making nutrition smarter, clearer and simpler, she provides quick, easy, nutrition advice which you can implement everyday. Founder of Nutrition consultancy firm Jenna Hope Nutrition, Jenna works closely with individuals, corporate clients and brands to implement smarter strategies for nutrition and to support health and wellbeing for the long-term.
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Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.
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