Bloating is one of the most uncomfortable and frustrating symptoms of digestion and can often lead us feeling nauseous and—in more severe cases—in pain after a meal. While bloating is a common digestion symptom and is often harmless, getting down to the bottom of the bloat and eliminating some of the potential causes can have an overall impact on our health and well-being.
“The term bloating is used to refer to an uncomfortable feeling of tightness, pressure, or fullness in our midsection,” Brittany Werner, MS, RDN, LDN, the director of coaching at Working Against Gravity, tells us. While we often associate bloating with an expansion of the belly or abdomen, Werner says that isn’t always the case, and sometimes, you can experience the feeling of bloating without obvious visible detection. Instead, you might find that your pants feel a little tighter than usual, which Werner says can last anywhere from a few hours to days in more extreme cases. “Bloating can range from a slight discomfort for some to intense pain in other cases,” she adds, explaining that usually this goes away but, for some, it’s a recurring problem.
Up ahead, we explore the common causes of bloating, plus how to get rid of bloating with several key digestion hacks.
The Common Causes of Bloating
Before diving into how to get rid of bloating, it’s important to understand the common causes of bloating, as this might allow you to avoid the discomfort to begin with. According to Werner, some of the most common causes of bloating revolve around eating habits, including eating too quickly and eating too much. Constipation, food intolerances, and hormonal fluctuation (like those experienced around menstrual cycles) can also result in bloating. Additionally, eating foods that are high in added sugars and fats can impact the body in ways that trigger the feeling—and sometimes the look—of bloat.
How to Get Rid of Bloating
Getting rid of bloat starts with eliminating some of the common causes that we have control over, like minimizing sugar and saturated fat intakes and avoiding foods that we might have known intolerances for. You can also get rid of bloat by practicing mindful chewing and taking your time when eating so as not to inhale a lot of air and, therefore, create bloat. From there, it comes down to your digestion.
“Digestion is a vital bodily function where our body processes the food we eat and extracts nutrients to provide us with energy,” says Werner. One of the best ways the body gets rid of bloating is by utilizing its natural digestive enzymes, which Werner says are naturally occurring proteins that break down food and aid in the overall digestion process. “Digestion begins in the mouth as our saliva starts to break down our food into a form that can be used by the body,” she explains, noting that our stomach, small intestine, and pancreas all make digestive enzymes. “The pancreas is the center of digestion because it produces the most important digestive enzymes, which are responsible for breaking down the micronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.”
With that said, some people don’t have enough digestive enzymes, or their bodies might not release them as they should. “This condition is known as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EIP) and means they can’t break down certain foods and absorb nutrients,” Werner explains, noting that the condition is quite rare and usually occurs more frequently in people with medical conditions like type 1 and type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and pancreatic cancers. “Common symptoms of digestive enzyme insufficiency include abdominal pain or cramps, excessive bloating, sudden onset diarrhea, gas, oily stools, and unexplained weight loss,” Werner adds.
In some cases, taking a digestive enzyme supplement can help get rid of bloating (more on that, below!).
Digestion Hacks TO GET RID OF Bloating
As mentioned, there are several ways you can get rid of bloating through changes to both your lifestyle and eating habits, as well as through medically addressing digestion conditions like EIP. Ahead, we break down some of the best digestion hacks for bloating.
Watch Your Fiber Intake
If you don’t usually include a lot of high-fiber foods in your diet and want to up your whole food game, Werner says to go slow at first. “Gradually increase your fiber intake to allow your digestive system to adjust,” she explains, noting that high-fiber foods can cause gas and bloating, especially if you are not used to consuming them on a regular basis. “Aim for soluble fiber sources like oats, beans, and fruits, as they are easier on the digestive system.”
Limit Gas-Producing Foods
Another way to get rid of bloating is by identifying and reducing foods that are known to cause gas, says Werner. These include beans, broccoli, cabbage, onions, and carbonated drinks. “These can be a little different for everyone, as no two digestive systems are the same, so be patient when adding and eliminating foods,” Werner explains. “Pay extra attention to artificial sweeteners, which can also contribute to bloating,” she adds, noting that things like sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol are sweeteners you should be wary of.
Manage Portion Sizes
To get rid of bloating, Werner also recommends managing portion sizes. “Eating large meals can put extra pressure on your stomach and lead to bloating,” she explains. “Consider having smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to help reduce the overall volume in your stomach.”
Be Mindful When Chewing
Werner also recommends slowing down and practicing mindful eating. “Chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly to avoid swallowing air, which can contribute to bloating,” she notes. Since we are often preoccupied with other things around us when eating—such as our phones or the TV—Werner says it’s important to be more mindful and make your meal the center of your attention when eating. “Sit down, chew your food slowly, and eat your meal with purpose—this will allow those digestive enzymes in your saliva to go to work.”
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Water intake (or lack thereof) is another reason why we might experience bloat. “Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help prevent constipation, which can contribute to bloating,” Werner notes. For most non-athletes, Werner recommends starting with 64 ounces of water per day. But, if you live in a warm climate or are highly active, you might need to drink more water. In addition to drinking water, Werner recommends limiting the consumption of carbonated beverages since the bubbles can contribute to bloating.
Identify Food Sensitivities
Since food sensitivities can cause bloating and digestion discomfort, Werner says identifying these can make a major difference. “Keeping a food diary to track your meals and symptoms can help identify specific foods that may cause bloating or discomfort,” she explains. “If you notice a correlation between foods and symptoms, consider an elimination diet under the guidance of a registered dietitian or help better understand and eliminate potential trigger foods.”
Taking HUM Nutrition’s Flatter Me to get rid of Bloating
Aside from these hacks for bloating, incorporating a digestive enzyme supplement into your daily ritual might also help alleviate symptoms. HUM Nutrition’s Flatter Me is formulated specifically for targeting bloat and promoting overall healthier digestion thanks to its formulation, which includes 18 full-spectrum digestive enzymes plus peppermint, ginger, and fennel seeds.
“In traditional medicine, peppermint is widely recognized for helping soothe digestive issues,” says Werner. She notes that some studies suggest that the plant compounds found in peppermint “may inhibit the activity of immune cells found in the gut, which can contribute to bloating.” Additionally, peppermint is known to relax the gut, which can relieve intestinal spasms along with the bloating and pain that come with them.
Ginger is another powerful ingredient for digestion support. “One of the natural components of ginger benefits gastrointestinal motility, [which is] the rate at which food exists the stomach and continues along the digestive process,” Werner explains. “Adding ginger to your diet may encourage efficient digestion, preventing food from lingering too long in your gut and potentially causing bloating,” she adds.
Fennel seeds also benefit digestion by providing additional fiber to your diet. “They are known to have several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory benefits and helping alleviate irritation in the intestines,” says Werner. “Fennel seeds may also relax muscles in the intestines, which can help relieve constipation,” she adds, noting that some studies also show that fennel seeds can prevent gas, too.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of bloating, the best thing to do is first consider your eating habits as bloating is often caused by how fast we eat, what we eat, and how much we eat. Additionally, ensuring your body stays properly hydrated can help support overall digestion health and more waste through the body more efficiently, preventing the potential for bloat. And, if you find that you need a little more support, incorporating a digestive enzyme supplement such as the HUM Nutrition Flatter Me can be an effective remedy for doing so.