Bloating is something many people experience at some point during their lives. Massages, supplements, and exercises can help relieve bloating, and a few lifestyle changes can help prevent it in the first place.
What causes bloating?
Bloating is at best uncomfortable and at worst extremely painful. Abdominal bloating is caused by an excess of gas, the digestive system working incorrectly or slower than usual, or a combination of these. Although bloating is usually a result of food intolerances and digestion disturbances, it could also be a symptom of a larger, more dangerous digestive disorder, like inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer.
The term bloating is sometimes used interchangeably with water retention, though the two are not the same. They can both result in the same puffy appearance, distended abdomen, and uncomfortable feeling, but the causes are different because water retention doesn’t typically involve the digestive system like bloating does.
Luckily, there are some quick, effective ways to relieve both kinds of bloating.
Ten ways to get rid of bloating quickly
1. Go for a walk.
Being active can get the bowels moving. If you’re experiencing discomfort from gas, even a low-impact exercise, like walking, can provide relief from bloating.
2. Drink warm water.
Drinking water and keeping hydrated in general is important, but drinking warm or lukewarm water can actually aid digestion. Drinking water also helps keep the kidneys functioning optimally, reducing water retention when liquid is properly eliminated from the body.
3. Eat less salt and potassium-rich foods.
A recent study indicates excessive sodium consumption can cause gastrointestinal bloating. Potassium-rich foods, like ripe bananas, help counteract effects of excessive sodium consumption because potassium regulates fluid balance in the body. The typical American diet can be very high in sodium, even some seemingly healthy foods can have high amounts of sodium!
4. Do yoga stretches.
Like walking, yoga can be a gentle way to exercise. Additionally, the stretches some yoga poses involve can kick-start the digestive process and in turn relieve the gas that causes bloating. Regular yoga can help you lose weight, too.
5. Massage your abdomen.
Massaging your abdomen can encourage your gastrointestinal tract, specifically your colon, to move stool along, effectively relieving gas and bloating. Follow these simple steps for an abdominal massage:
- In a circular motion, press lightly on the right side of your stomach down by the bone of your pelvis, moving your hand up until you reach your ribs.
- Move straight across to the left side.
- Work your fingers down to your left hip and back to your belly button.
- Move your hand straight across toward your right hip bone once again.
- Do this circular motion for 2–3 minutes.
- Spend about one minute moving your hand in a straight line from the right hip bone to the right ribs, then one minute gently across the middle, and then one minute rubbing up and down from your left ribs to your left hip bone.
- Moving in a clockwise motion, repeat these steps for approximately ten more minutes.
6. Drink hot tea.
Like warm water, hot tea can relieve gas and bloating. Peppermint tea is a popular tea that effectively relaxes the digestive system, providing relief from the gas that causes bloating. Ginger, lemon, and dandelion teas can also relieve bloating.
7. Take probiotics.
Your gut contains trillions of bacteria that work in harmony to keep your digestive system regular. Throwing off this balance can result in a number of symptoms, one of which is bloating from gas, constipation, or other digestion-related issues. Probiotic supplements and foods can improve the bacterial environment in the gut, reducing symptoms of gas and bloating. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement routine.
8. Sip apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar also helps promote a healthy gut and digestive system by increasing stomach acid and aiding your body’s ability to absorb key nutrients. Because of its high acidity, apple cider vinegar can cause indigestion and damage the teeth and throat – it is best when diluted and used in small amounts.
9. Soak in a warm bath.
Stress can cause digestive issues that result in gas and bloating. Warm baths can reduce stress levels and lower heart rate, giving your body a chance to refocus its energy on proper digestion and elimination.
10. Take over-the-counter medication for gas relief.
Over-the-counter medications for gas relief, like Gas-X and Pepto Bismol, have been around for years. Most popular gas relief medicines contain simethicone, an FDA-approved anti-foaming agent that relieves gas and bloating. Before starting any medication, be sure to consult your doctor.
Working to relieve bloating once it has begun is pretty simple, but avoiding the uncomfortable feeling of being bloated is even easier. There are several ways to prevent bloating in the first place, including:
1. Avoid chewing gum.
Chewing gum mimics the way you eat food, getting your digestive system ready to digest food that never comes – this introduces a lot of air into the digestive system. This air often causes pain and a distended abdomen. Additionally, sugar and other artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol and xylitol, found in most chewing gums don’t get broken down by your body and can also cause uncomfortable bloating.
2. Increase fiber intake.
Increasing fiber intake can prevent constipation and the resulting bloating. Most people aren’t getting enough of their recommended daily fiber (25 grams for females; 38 grams for males). It’s important to find the right balance of fiber for your diet – too much fiber or increasing fiber intake too quickly can also cause bloating. Always consult your doctor before changing your diet.
3. Don’t multitask while eating.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, more Americans than ever are eating in front of their phones and TVs. Distracted eating often results in a higher intake of calories. Faster eating, which we tend to do while distracted, also introduces more air into the digestive system, causing – you guessed it – bloating.
The bottom line
Abdominal bloating is uncomfortable – and sometimes painful – but ultimately treatable and preventable. Short walks, dietary changes, and mindful eating can all help relieve and prevent bloating. People may also find relief from chronic bloating with the FODMAP diet, just one of the over 100 dietary theories that IIN explores in its Health Coach Training Program. Want to learn more? Download our Curriculum Guide today.