13 Natural Ways To Stop Bloating
13 Natural Ways To Stop Bloating
We’ve all experienced that bloated feeling from time to time; after eating a big meal or after eating foods that don’t agree with us.
But what should you do if you experience bloating frequently?
Find out what may be causing your bloating and what you can do about it.
What is bloating?
Bloating is a feeling that your stomach is over full or stretched. It happens when the organs in your digestive system are stretched. This can be when liquid, gas or solids build up in part of your gut. 
We generally produce between one and four gallons of gas each day, including carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, methane and hydrogen. If you are producing more than this or unable to release it, it can become uncomfortable.
Gas forms in your large intestine when bacteria ferment carbohydrates that do not get digested in your small intestine. Bacteria also consume some of that gas, but the remaining gas is released when you pass gas. 
Bloating may also be accompanied by burping or belching, pain and abdominal rumbling.
Bloating is not the same as carrying around extra fat or retaining water. Fluids don’t accumulate in the stomach, although you may have water retention in other parts of your body.
What causes bloating?
There are a number of factors that can cause bloating.
- having a high sugar diet which causes Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- drinking fizzy drinks
- eating salty foods
- eating carbohydrates
- swallowing too much air when you eat or drink too quickly, chew gum or smoke
For many of us, bloating can be caused by:
- Inadequate protein digestion (causing some foods to ferment)
- Inability to break down sugar and carbohydrates fully (certain complex sugar compounds need the presence of enzymes to be digested fully, yet people can lack these)
- Imbalances in gut bacteria (in the digestive tract, there are trillions of healthy and unhealthy bacteria that compete, and when “bad bacteria” outweigh the good for one reason or another, an imbalance can lead to abdominal bloating and excessive gas) 
Bloating can also be caused by medical conditions, including:
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- SIBO – This occurs when gut bacteria from the colon overflow into the small intestine. The overgrowth of these bacteria can also overwhelm other bacteria that are meant to balance them. Some bacteria actually absorb the gasses produced by others, but too many of one kind and not enough of another kind can throw this balance off. 
- other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs)
- low stomach acid which results in leaving undigested foods in your stomach which then cause gas
- you may have a FODMAP intolerance
- food sensitivities and allergies
- weight gain – if you’ve gained weight, it may be impacting your abdominal volume, meaning that there’s less room for digestive processes and more chance of feeling bloated.
- hormonal flux (especially for women)
- giardiasis (intestinal parasite infection)
- eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa
- mental health factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, and more
- some medications
These conditions cause factors that contribute to gas and bloating, such as:
- overgrowth or deficiency of bacteria within the GI tract (SIBO)
- underlying infections
- gas accumulation
- altered gut motility
- impaired gas transit
- abnormal abdominal reflexes
- visceral hypersensitivity (feeling of bloating in small or even normal body changes)
- food and carbohydrate malabsorption
- constipation 
The gut microbiome consists of bacteria and their by-products that live in our intestinal tract. The makeup of our gut microbiome is different for each of us, but we all have around 500 different species of bacteria in our colon and around 1014 in our GI tract.
The health of our microbiome is dependent on our diet, antibiotic use and how we were fed as a baby.
Research over the past decade has shown that these bacteria play a vital role in gut immune function, mucosal barrier function, metabolism of drugs, and production of short-chain fatty acids and vitamins. Even minor disturbances in gut microflora can lead to significant changes in gut function, including gas production  and lead to bloating.
Bloating and hormones
Your menstrual cycle can impact how much you bloat, before and after your period. When estrogen increases and progesterone drops, you are more likely to bloat from excess fluids. On top of the increased volume of your uterus before menstruation, this can can give you a bloated stomach.
Bloating is also common for women who are experiencing perimenopause as estrogen causes water retention.
But hormones also interact with your digestive system. Estrogen and progesterone can each cause intestinal gas by either slowing or speeding your motility. Estrogen receptors in your GI tract also affect your visceral sensitivity — what makes you feel bloated. 
What is the functional medicine approach to bloating?
1. Firstly, start thinking about the way you eat. Do you eat with lots of distractions? With your phone in hand? In front of the television? It’s time to practice mindful eating. That means no distractions, taking your time and chewing thoroughly. If you think you may be full, stop eating and pause. If you are still hungry after some time, resume eating.
2. Stop snacking and stick to three square meals a day. When we’re constantly eating, we’re constantly triggering this huge time- and energy-intensive process that is digestion. Our bodies have to release stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and go through the mechanical process of breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. 
3. Avoid drinking large amounts of liquids with meals.
4. Cook your vegetables rather than eat them raw – it makes them easier to digest.
5. Eat lots of fibre – choose different types of plant sources (see lists below of what to avoid and what to eat). If you’re struggling with constipation, you can take psyllium for some extra help.
6. Drink lots of purified water to prevent constipation.
7. Get some exercise – walking and stretching is perfect to get your body moving. Don’t sit for long periods of time.
8. If you have an intolerance to FODMAPs, (a group of fermentable sugars – Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) it may be a good idea to start an elimination diet in which you remove all foods and reintroduce them slowly to find out which ones are causing you pain.
9. Eliminate gluten, dairy, and soy or follow a Paleo or Autoimmune Paleo diet for 30 days. If you get relief from the bloating, reintroduce foods one at a time so you can identify the culprit. 
Generally, the below list of foods will cause bloating and are best to avoid:
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower
- Dairy products
- Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol
Foods can help you to tackle bloating include:
- Green tea
- Peppermint tea
10. Take probiotics to encourage a wider diversity of good bacteria in your gut and help to eliminate some of the nasty ones. You can take probiotic supplements, plus acquire them from natural probiotic foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir and kombucha.
11. Stress less! Stress and anxiety impact digestion in a big way. That’s because your gut and your brain communicate very closely via the vagus nerve, your “gut-brain connection.”  When you have constant stressors in your life, your immune system never really gets to turn off. Your inflammatory response is activated for too long and eventually goes rogue, attacking your own bodily tissues. Soon, your stress hormones try to suppress the response but go overboard, leaving you with a weakened immune system. 
12. Try digestive bitters or herbal teas to stimulate your natural digestives juices such as hydrochloric acid in your stomach, bile, and pancreatic enzymes. By increasing the amount of these digestive juices, bitters help break down food to relieve gas and bloating. Tea ingredients may include peppermint, fennel, ginger, or liquorice that are known to calm your stomach and relieve gas. 
13. Have your hormone levels tested – if you are experiencing excessive bloating during your period or if you are perimenopausal or menopausal, you may also be suffering from bloating. Talk to your doctor or Functional Medicine health practitioner who can support you with supplements or treatments to combat this and any other symptom you may have.
How can we help
A Functional Medicine health practitioner can offer a number of diagnostic tests, including stool analysis and other functional gastrointestinal tests. This can help us to uncover possible infections and imbalances in your digestive function or gut microbiome that may be causing your bloating.
You will also be assessed for hormone imbalances in oestrogen, progesterone and cortisol that contribute to abdominal distention.
Once we identify the root cause of your bloating, we can support your with diet and lifestyle programs and supplements to restore your gut microbiome to its healthiest state.
Contact us at Advanced Functional Medicine to find out more.