In an ideal world, we would all only eat the cleanest foods, steer clear of any and all digestion disruptors, and have a lit-from-within glow and a healthy gut. But let’s be real — we do not live in an ideal world, we live in the real world, and there are such things as caramel macchiatos, Flaming Hot Cheetos, and Lou Malnati’s pizza. Ever since the cronut was invented, 100 percent clean eating basically went out the door for me. I abide by the 80/20 rule (80 percent clean eating with a few splurges here and there), but it still doesn’t totally help my chronic bloat and horrible indigestion.
Anything from a salad with raw veggies to a tequila on the rocks will send my angry stomach into bloat that I can only describe as approximately 4-5 months pregnant with a bloat baby. Since we all get it (everyone needs some extra help beating bloat now and then), sometimes need a quick fix or two for when it feels uncomfortable. Here are the best ways to beat bloat — both long-term lifestyle changes and some quick fixes that de-bloat ASAP.
1. Try supplements
Taking a probiotic and a prebiotic is crucial for gut health — probiotics (or “good” bacteria) provide a wide range of health benefits from everything to your skin, your brain, and your gut. An imbalance or overgrowth in bad bacteria can cause skin issues, allergies, and more important for the purpose of this article, bloating. Probiotics provide good bacteria, and prebiotics are food for probiotics, ensuring the good bacteria can survive. Taking a digestive enzyme right before a meal can also help to breakdown food, improve digestion, and decrease inflammation.
2. Add spices and herbs to your food
Spices like black pepper, cumin, and turmeric are all digestion stimulating or anti-inflammatory, which helps to soothe irritation, as well as literally fire the digestive system. Sprinkle turmeric and black pepper over meals or add cinnamon to your coffee to activate the digestive system. Herbs like cilantro or mint also aid in digestion and soothe the GI track — top your soups and stews with cilantro, or add mint to salads to help your body breakdown food.
3. Eat more potassium
Potassium helps to counteract the effects of sodium, which eases bloating and inflammation of the digestive system. Your automatic potassium go-to is probably bananas or coconut water, but those popular “potassium” foods are actually not the most potassium-rich foods that nature offers. Sweet potatoes, white beans, carrot juice, leafy greens, and grilled halibut are actually super high in potassium, helping your body to breakdown sodium and bloat.
4. Go through a yoga flow
The ancient, on-trend practice is not only good for your mental health, it’s good for your bloat, too. Why not get a workout in while you’re regulating your digestive system? Not only does yoga calm the nervous system (stress and anxiety can cause indigestion), but certain poses are like mini massages for your internal organs. In particular, twisting works to detoxify and stimulate the digestive system. Go through a flow with poses like standing forward bend, chair pose, downward and upward facing dog, boat pose, and cat and cow pose.
5. Make a de-bloating tonic
If you’re experiencing a severe episode of bloating or only have a few hours to de-bloat before an important event, putting together a go-to “tonic” of bloat-busting ingredients could make your stomach pain or uncomfortable bloat totally vanish. Add some fresh lemon, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a few mint leaves to your water. Lemon is a gentle diuretic, cayenne pepper stimulates digestion and eases gas, and mint soothes the digestive system.
6. Sip on tea
Alcohol and artificial sweeteners are hard for the small intestine to digest, leading to bloating and constipation. Instead of sipping on soda or a night cap, opt for a soothing tea that is not only better for the body, but also decreases painful bloat and chronic indigestion. Dandelion root, fennel, and peppermint in particular are good for helping digestion and getting rid of bloat.
7. Eat more natural probiotic foods
Just like a probiotic supplement, live bacteria can help balance the gut flora — they stop bad bacteria and yeast from growing (which leads to bloating). In addition to taking a probiotic supplement, you can get a lot of natural probiotics from foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and kombucha are all great sources for natural boat-busting live bacteria that you can snack on throughout the day or add to your favorite meals.
8. Chew your food more thoroughly
I get it, there are times when a fresh pizza or bag of popcorn is in front of you and you just have shove to as much as you can in your mouth. We’ve all had that experience with late-night snacking or when we’re really hungry (or, you know, a normal Monday lunchtime). But in order for our digestive systems to fully activate, we actually need to chew up to 30 times (yes, really!). Food should essentially be liquid in your mouth (sorry for the TMI). Chewing produces more saliva, which contains digestive enzymes to help break down the food — and the more you chew, the less work it is for your belly.
9. Drink more water
Even slight dehydration causes water retention (a common cause of bloat) because your body is trying to hold onto the water it has. Constantly drink water throughout the day to make sure your body stays hydrated, and avoid all other drinks as much as possible. If you do have an alcoholic beverage or caffeinated coffee (because what’s life without them?), just make sure to have an extra glass of trusty ol’ H2O so your body stays properly hydrated.
10. Make ginger your go-to
Ginger is a miracle food when it comes to bloat — not only is it a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, but it relieves nausea by settling stomach acids and treats chronic indigestion by speeding up the emptying of the stomach. Whether you consistently sip on ginger tea, chew ginger gum, add ginger to your smoothie, or eat some ginger before a meal, adding this superfood into your daily diet could completely reverse bloat and indigestion.
You might’ve heard of the ancient Chinese practice as a treatment for everything from migraines to PMS to depression. While poking your skin with tiny needles sounds intimidating, it should be painless, and many even say it’s relaxing. Besides being a proven fix for a number of mental and physical health concerns, placing the needles at certain points of the body (or meridians) can alleviate any digestive or bloating problems, because they break up the stagnation in the spleen and stomach. The ancient eastern treatment can redirect the flow of the body, helping to settle the stomach, ease digestion, and even calm IBS.
12. Eat foods with a diuretic or soothing effect
Rather than loading your diet with sugary, processed, fried, or salty foods (all bloat causing!), fit in as many foods as you can that are loaded with antioxidants, detoxifying enzymes, and soothing properties.
Asparagus is a powerful bloat-fighting food because asparagine, an amino acid. The long leafy veggie also has a detoxifying effect thanks to antioxidants. Foods like celery and apple cider vinegar also have diuretic effects, flushing out water retention. Papaya and kiwi are fruits commonly known for beating bloat because they contains powerful enzymes that help digestion. Foods that contain a lot of water, like cucumber or watermelon, also work to beat bloat by soothing the digestive system and keeping the body properly hydrated. Spinach also helps to lessen bloat by pushing fiber through your digestive system.