The best bloating remedies usually center on immediate changes in food and fluid intake, with the goal of relieving abdominal pressure as quickly as possible. Drinking lots of water and eating a high-fiber diet are two of the top recommendations in most places. Bloating can also soemtimes be relieved by eating smaller meals, eating more slowly, and getting regular exercise, particularly just after eating. To treat cases of regular or chronic bloating, such as can occur during a woman's menstrual cycle, doctors may prescribe certain hormonal medications or high doses of calcium supplements. Most of the time, occasional bloat isn’t something to worry about. If it’s causing pain, interfering with a person’s lifestyle, or seems persistent despite dietary and lifestyle changes, though, a medical evaluation might be needed. In rare cases bloating can be a symptom of other, more serious problems, and the sooner these are diagnosed and treated the better.
Understanding the Condition Generally
Bloating is usually though of as a painful swelling of the abdomen and stomach, though much of the problem is centered in the intestine and digestive tract. It normally happens when air becomes trapped and the pressure around digesting and processing foods builds. Many people experience bloating because of stress, anxiety, constipation, poor eating habits or even undiagnosed food allergies. Understanding the root cause of bloating often helps treat and avoid it, and making certain changes to diet and lifestyle more generally can often help in the interim.
Focus on Fluids
One of the easiest bloating remedies is to increase fluid intake. Dehydration causes bloating by telling the body to retain water. Drinking at least eight glasses of water per day can flush out the body's systems and help relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Herbal teas containing chamomile, ginger, peppermint or basil also can make excellent bloating remedies because they contain natural healing properties. Alternatively, mixing clove oil or eucalyptus oil with a glass of water and drinking the solution each morning might also be helpful in this respect.
Not all fluids are necessarily good for bloating prevention, however. Most experts recommend avoiding carbonated beverages, for instance, which can aggravate gas and intestinal pressure. Limiting caffeine and alcohol is also usually advised, as these and other stimulants can aggravate intestinal problems and irritations.
Another important recommendation centers on dietary changes. Patients are usually advised to make an inventory of the foods they eat, then eliminate those that may be problematic. Rich and fatty foods are usually the first targets. These can lead to bloating by taking a long time to digest, giving the stomach a full, uncomfortable feeling. Limiting fats while increasing protein and carbohydrates that digest more quickly may help.
Some foods that are normally considered healthy can also be naturally bloat-inducing, which usually means that these, too, should be avoided. Common examples include as cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots, prunes and apricots.
Bean and lentils can be particularly problematic as well, as they contain a type of sugar called oligosaccharide that is difficult to digest. Similarly, sweeteners such as sorbitol and fructose can complicate digestion. They are found mainly in processed foods, and it is usually best for people to avoid them altogether.
Broad Benefits of Exercise
Another strategy involves changing eating habits, as poor eating habits can often cause bloating. Eating smaller meals, and eating them slowly, may help encourage proper digestion. Similarly, light to moderate exercise, when committed to with some regularity, can also be helpful. This can be as simple as a walk around the block after a meal, or a moderate jog once a day. Exercise widens blood vessels, increasing the amount of fluid sent to the kidneys, where it is expelled. Most experts say that regular, moderate exercise, when performed for at least 30 minutes three times per week can help the body release excess water that causes bloating, as well as contributing to better health overall.
Special Concerns During Menstruation
Women often experience bloating as a consequence of menstruation, requiring different bloating remedies than men or children experiencing bloating. Increases in hormones, such as progesterone, estrogen and prostaglandins, slow digestion speed while causing water retention. Doctors often recommend taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day to help relieve symptoms.
When to Get Help
Sometimes chronic bloating can be a symptom of a more serious medical condition. If regular home remedies do not relieve bloating symptoms, it may be best to consult a physician. Chronic bloating may indicate conditions such as a blocked intestine that may require surgery, or at least more aggressive care.