If you constantly feel bloated—even if you’re not over-eating or dealing with a temporary issue like PMS—you may be suffering from certain underlying digestive issues that can leave you feeling puffier than normal.
Taking over-the-counter anti-gas products may provide temporary relief, but they are only a “band-aid” that fails to address the root problems that are causing your gas. Finding a long-lasting solution is possible, however, and it starts with your daily diet. By removing certain foods that tend to increase gas and bloating—and then adding others that combat these issues—you may be able to banish the bloat for good.
First, Figure Out What Causes Your Bloating
What types of problems can contribute to ongoing stomach pains and gas? Common conditions like food allergies/sensitivities; constipation; fluid retention; low stomach acid; and eating inflammatory, high-sodium foods can all lead to excessive bloating. As a result, you should definitely limit or eliminate the following foods if bloating is an issue for you:
- added sugars and sweetened snacks
- most dairy products (If possible, consume raw dairy products as opposed to the conventional kind sold in supermarkets, which has been pasteurized/homogenized. Raw dairy has more enzymes intact that support digestive health—just be sure to avoid sweetened, highly-processed dairy products that are hard to break down, such as sugary yogurts and poor-quality cheeses.
- refined grains
- carbonated drinks
- chewing gum
- artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols
- fried foods
- FODMAP foods, in some cases (These carbohydrate foods contain certain types of fermentable sugars that can be hard to break down)
Additionally, while you work on troubleshooting the real cause of your digestive issues and avoiding trigger foods, incorporating the following foods into your diet can naturally help combat bloating:
6 Key Foods to Reduce Bloating Naturally
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1. Herbs (parsley, peppermint, cilantro, ginger, etc.)
Many herbs contain anti-inflammatory compounds and act like natural diuretics that help the body to release extra fluid. Herbs can also help relax the muscles in the digestive tract, stopping cramping and constipation, and fighting inflammation (which is a root cause of many digestive ailments.) Try adding a tablespoon or two of freshly chopped herbs to dishes when you cook or throwing some herbs into your morning smoothies or green juices.
Finally, while it’s not technically an herb, consider using aloe vera juice (about 100-200 milligrams daily) to help support digestion. Aloe vera contains many enzymes and anthraquinone compounds that act as natural laxatives, plus aloe has natural pain-reducing, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Peppermint and ginger teas are great for fighting constipation, stomach pains, gas, and nausea. Fresh peeled ginger root is perfect for making homemade ginger tea (just steep a knob in hot water), or you can use it to add flavor to broths or sauces, and salad dressings.
3. Probiotic/fermented foods
Probiotic foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha are your best sources of “good bacteria” that populate your gut and help digest the foods you eat. Probiotics help get rid of some of the bad bacteria that can overcrowd your system and disrupt with digestion, creating byproducts that lead to gas.
If you suspect that you don’t tolerate dairy well, fermented dairy products may also help with digesting these foods. Try products made from goat’s or sheep’s milk, such as unsweetened yogurt or kefir.
4. Raw and lightly cooked veggies
Vegetables are an excellent source of dietary fiber that fights constipation, electrolytes that prevent dehydration, and enzymes that support digestion and absorption of nutrients. Try to include a mix of raw and cooked veggies in your diet each day, especially leafy greens, cucumber, celery, fennel, artichoke, asparagus, and cultured/fermented vegetables.
Most of these veggies also have the added benefit of fighting fluid retention by acting as natural diuretics. Additionally, potassium and magnesium provided by veggies can help fight constipation, swelling, and the effects of a high-sodium diet.
5. Hydrating fruits
Hydration is key for preventing bloating, since drinking water actually helps to push excess water out of your body. The more water you drink or consume by eating high-water content foods, the better you stay hydrated. Hydration is especially important for digestion if you consume lots of salt from packaged foods, such as processed meats, condiments, and frozen or canned foods.
All fruits have a high-water content, but some of the best choices for fighting boating and general digestive health include all types of melon, berries, pineapple, kiwi, and papaya. These fruits are exceptional sources of electrolytes, fiber, and unique digestive enzymes (such as bromelain and papain) that can help correct underlying gastrointestinal issues.
6. Healthy Fats
Consuming too little fat may contribute to sluggish digestion and constipation, since fats are lubricating to the GI tract. (On the other hand, eating very heavy, rich meals may make bloating and gas pains worse; therefore, it’s best to space out your fat consumption throughout the day, having a serving or two with every meal.)
Examples of healthy fats include extra virgin olive or coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee, avocado, nuts, seeds, and fats from high-quality animal foods like fish, dairy, or meat. If you struggle with “staying regular” and this making bloating worse, try having 1-2 tablespoons of flax seeds or chia seeds soaked in water each day. Flax and chia help to form a gel when they soak up water, which lubricates stool and makes it easier to have regular bowel movements and beat the bloat.
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