Depending on the underlying cause of bloating, eating, restricting, or avoiding certain foods may help relieve the symptoms.
Bloating is common. It may be due to a gastrointestinal condition or another health condition.
A doctor can diagnose the cause of bloating and may advise that the person changes their diet.
This article looks at some of the causes of bloating, some foods that may help or worsen the symptoms, and some tips to help reduce bloating in other ways.
Bloating is a feeling of fullness or pressure in the abdomen. Bloating can sometimes be visible in the form of abdominal distention (swelling).
According to one 2000 article, around
Experts have linked bloating to other digestive conditions. If a doctor is unaware of a link to a bowel or gastrointestinal issue, they may define it as functional bloating.
Doctors do not completely understand the causes of bloating. However, some of the potential causes may include:
- excess gas caused by eating certain foods
- small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- swallowing too much air
- fluid retention
- food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance
- psychological stress
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- infections, such as rotavirus or norovirus
- gynecological conditions, such as endometriosis
- eating disorders
Someone with bloating should contact a doctor to determine the cause and rule out any underlying conditions.
Depending on the underlying cause of bloating, there are a number of foods and supplements to try that may help reduce it.
The following sections will look at some of these options in more detail.
The fiber in plant foods is essential for having regular bowel movements and preventing constipation, which may cause bloating.
Some fibrous foods contain fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs). FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that ferment rapidly in the digestive system.
Some people have a sensitivity to foods containing FODMAPs, which can cause them to become bloated.
If a person is avoiding FODMAPs, they need to choose which fibrous foods they eat carefully.
Some examples of low FODMAP foods that contain healthy fiber include:
- unripe bananas
- green beans
- baby spinach
- brown rice
People should also make sure that they are adequately hydrated to prevent constipation.
The review suggests avoiding wheat bran supplements and instead trying slowly fermentable fibers, such as psyllium husk.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts present in the gastrointestinal tract that experts have linked to a host of health benefits. Probiotics are also present in certain foods and supplements.
People can try eating foods that naturally contain probiotics, or they could take a probiotic supplement.
However, this may not be effective for everyone. One
Some foods that naturally contain probiotic bacteria include:
- natural yogurt
Ginger is a home remedy for many gastrointestinal complaints, including indigestion, nausea, and bloating.
People can try making a tea with fresh ginger root and hot water to see if it relieves bloating symptoms.
A person can also add fresh or dried ginger to recipes, particularly those with ingredients that may cause excess gas, such as lentil dahls or chickpea curries.
Which foods to eat and avoid depends on the cause of bloating.
However, avoiding foods that can cause excess gas may be a sensible approach to alleviate the symptoms.
People should also make sure that they have regular bowel movements and support their beneficial gut bacteria by following the tips above.
Foods containing FODMAPs can cause bloating in people who are sensitive to them.
- fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, mangoes, cherries, canned fruits (if canned in juice), and dried fruits (in large quantities)
- vegetables such as onions, garlic, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts
- dairy products such as milk, yogurt, ice cream, and soft cheese
- grains such as wheat and rye, particularly in large amounts
- legumes such as chickpeas and lentils
- sweeteners such as fructose, high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, mannitol, and honey
People can try eliminating higher FODMAP foods for a trial period to see if their symptoms subside.
It is advisable to try this with a dietitian’s guidance, as this type of diet is restrictive and could lead to nutrient insufficiency in the long term.
Carbonated or fizzy drinks may exacerbate excess gas and bloating. People should try to avoid these beverages to see if it improves their symptoms.
Similarly, any beverage with added sugars, or even fruit juice, can ferment in the intestine and cause excess gas.
One study found that people who used a biofeedback mechanism to control muscles in the abdominothoracic walls reduced abdominal distention by 56%.
Although this method is not freely available, other strategies to improve posture, breathing, and muscle tone, such as yoga, could help. Yoga can also help people pass gas, which can relieve bloating.
According to the same review, there is also a link between bloating and abnormal pelvic floor function. Using biofeedback to correct this can result in a decrease in the frequency and severity of bloating.
If someone has persistent or regular bloating, they should contact a doctor.
The doctor may prescribe laxatives for someone experiencing constipation or antibiotics for someone experiencing bacterial overgrowth.
If a person has bloating due to a gastrointestinal condition, they may find that changing their diet helps. They may be able to identify specific foods that trigger occasional bloating by using a food journal.
Eliminating high FODMAP foods for a trial period may also be a sensible approach. Be sure to work with a registered dietitian or qualified healthcare professional to ensure safety, as restrictive diets can sometimes exacerbate gastrointestinal issues.
Strategies such as yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation may also help.
Someone should contact a doctor if they have persistent bloating.