If you’ve ever planned a big night out just to later feel like your stomach was way too full or your pants were fitting too tight, you know just how awful bloating can be.
Bloating occurs when your gastrointestinal tract is filled with excess air and gas, and that can happen due to the foods you eat, how quickly you eat or drink and a plethora of other everyday practices you probably don’t think about.
So, to help you avoid cancelling your plans and laying on the couch with your pants unbuckled, here are 14 easy ways to help you reduce your chances of bloating.
Stretch it out.
A great way to begin your debloating journey is to do your best to loosen up and stretch it out. If you know some yoga poses, break them out.
Rebecca Weible, yoga instructor and founder and owner of Yo Yoga! in New York City, told SELF that when your hips are tight, your pelvis then presses up against your digestive organs. Weible told the magazine that stretching helps “open things up a bit” and increases circulation to the torso and “the organs that are working to digest.”
To relieve the pressure on your pelvic region, you should do stretches that both open up your hips and twist your abdominal area, according to Active.
Fill up your water bottle.
If you’re bloated, you probably find yourself thinking that there isn’t any room left in your stomach for food or liquids. But, drinking water might be just what you need to cleanse your system, flush out gas and flatten your stomach.
If you don’t consume enough liquids, your body will retain water to avoid dehydration. Drinking water can do wonders for reducing water retention in your body and helping to prevent constipation, according to Shape.
Go for a walk.
If you’re feeling gassy and bloated, the last thing you probably want to do is a workout. But, a little physical activity can go a long way toward stretching out your abdominal area, allowing your bowels to move more regularly and sweating out any excess water in your body.
Even a light walk around the block can give your digestive system the gentle nudge it needs to get back to operating properly, according to POPSUGAR.
Eat a banana (or other potassium-rich foods).
Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that helps with a wide range of body functions, including regulating your body’s water balance.
“When potassium is low, the body retains extra sodium and holds on to water,” Joy Bauer, RD, told Fitness. So, to prevent water retention and therefore bloating, you should make sure you’re consuming enough potassium in your diet.
Potassium-rich foods include fruits such as bananas, oranges, and pineapples, dark leafy greens, lean meats, beans and nuts.
Try an over-the-counter supplement.
When natural herbs like ginger and peppermint just aren’t giving you the relief you need from bloating, it might be time to turn to over-the-counter supplements.
Supplements, such as Lactase and Beano, can help break down indigestible carbohydrates and bring nearly immediate relief for bloating, according to Healthline.
Drink and eat slowly.
If you’re feeling bloated, it’s usually one way your body’s telling you there is excess air in your digestive tract.
Eating and drinking slowly will help you avoid swallowing too much air during the process and therefore limit your chances of bloating, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Ditch the chewing gum — and the straw.
Just like when you eat or drink too quickly, chewing gum and drinking out of a straw can also increase the amount of air you swallow.
According to Prevention, drinking out of a straw is like “blowing up a balloon in reverse.” When you suck your beverage through it, an excess amount of air is going straight through your digestive tract and into your stomach.
Limit your sugar alcohol intake.
Just because a protein bar or a box of cereal is advertised as sugar-free, doesn’t mean you should take it at its word. Many sugar-free foods still contain sugar alcohols, which are only slightly healthy sweeteners.
And, the worst news about the sweeteners is that they can cause serious digestive issues.
According to a study published in Gastroenterology, consuming over 10 grams of the sugar alcohol Sorbitol can cause gas and bloating. When a person’s intake exceeds 20 grams, it can create more serious symptoms such as cramps and diarrhoea.
Don’t forget to take probiotics.
Bacteria in your intestines often produces gas, which can be a major cause of your bloating.
Studies have shown that probiotics can help reduce that gas production and therefore decrease bloating. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that have been proven help your digestive system. They are known to prevent diarrhoea caused by infections and antibiotics and to improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
For example, a 2011 clinical trial found that eating probiotics helped individuals restore the balance of their intestinal bacteria, which led to better digestive functions and an improvement in bloating.
Avoid foods that make you gassy.
In order to figure out if particular foods make you bloat or leave you feeling constipated, it’s a good idea to try and keep a food diary for a few days or weeks.
Some fibre-rich foods are known to make people create an excess of gas in their intestines. If you can completely avoid the foods that make you gassier than others, it will probably be the easiest way for you to reduce your chances of bloating.
Get your hands on some ginger.
Drinking a cup of ginger tea or chewing on a cube of ginger can be a great, natural way to prevent bloating later in the day.
The herb is particularly helpful in reducing gas because it soothes intestinal activity, thins the blood and improves circulation, which further relieves bloating, according to Livestrong.
A study from the journal European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Studies found that ginger helped individuals speed up their digestion process. And, if you can digest your food quicker, then gases will move faster through your system as well.
Try to release some stress from your life.
When you’re overwhelmed by everything you have going on in your life, the last thing you’re probably worried about is the amount of gas in your body. But, stress can make your gas and bloating situation even worse.
Angela Lemond, a dietitian, and nutritionist based in Texas told the website Everyday Health that nerves travel up and down a person’s gastrointestinal tract. “People who have a tendency to be nervous can develop gas, diarrhoea, or constipation,” she told the site.
Drink some peppermint tea.
Similar to ginger, peppermint is another natural herb that can be a godsend for any of your indigestion and gas-related issues.
Studies have proven that peppermint tea and peppermint oil capsules, which can be purchased as supplements, are effective in treating short-term symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including bloating. Peppermint relaxes the muscles in your intestines and keeps gas moving along at a healthy pace.
A 2007 study published in the journal Digestive and Liver Disease found that patients with IBS who took the peppermint oil supplements saw a significant reduction of their symptoms compared to those who received the placebo.
Take a warm bath.
A warm bath with not only leave you feeling stress-free, it can also leave you feeling bloat-free as well. The warmth of a bath or heating bad can help relieve any sore abdominal muscles and stress on your gastrointestinal tract.
Celebrity personal trainer Dalton Wong told Women’s Health Magazine that he recommends her clients take a 20-30 minute Epsom salt bath before a big event. “It takes all the toxins and the excess water out of your system so that you’re looking the best that you can,” he told the magazine.
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