There are few things more uncomfortable than being bloated. It can make even a favorite pair of jeans feel hideously unflattering, and the thought of putting on a bikini when you feel like your stomach might burst is, ahem, cringe-worthy. Sadly, fun get-togethers, too, can create a perfect storm for this kind of discomfort. Convivial socializing leads to downing more cocktails, and of course, feasting on loads of rich, gut-busting appetizers. Rather than limiting a plethora of life's indulgences that give us oh so much joy, we sought to explore the ways in which we can combat stomach bloating for good.
Thankfully, MindBodyGreen's network of functional medicine doctors have broached this subject before, and have homed in on three beneficial things they actually use themselves to help ease belly bloat, so you can finally feel comfortable (in some possibly uncomfortable situations).
"The number one food that eliminates bloat is a digestive aid—ginger. Ginger has many healing properties. Among them, it reduces inflammation and promotes intestinal motility. By promoting peristalsis (the rhythmic contractions of the intestines), it helps to eliminate bloat. Ginger tea or ginger kombucha after a meal makes for a perfect digestive." — Vincent Pedre, MD, author of Happy Gut.
Not only will ginger beat the dreaded bloat, but it's easy to find ways to get ginger into your daily rotation. Try grating it into smoothies and adding it to salad dressings for a nice, zesty kick.
"Activated carbon (also known as activated charcoal) absorbs impurities and gas. When a patient is admitted to the ER for a drug or alcohol overdose, we administer activated charcoal to absorb and filter the toxins in their stomach. Similarly, activated charcoal can soak up the less harmful but uncomfortable gases that accumulate in your gut. It's not a miracle fix, but it eliminates bloat. I keep a bottle of activated charcoal pills in my purse. When I'm bloated, I pop two activated charcoal pills to neutralize the gas. I also take it when at a restaurant that serves food of unclear quality." — Sara Gottfried, MD, author of Younger.
There's also evidence pointing toward doubling up on your gas-busting efforts: A 2013 study on the effects of activated charcoal in subjects with intestinal gas—when supplemented with simethicone (commonly known as Gas-X)—reported more of an increased reduction in abdominal pain and flatulence than if they took activated charcoal or Gas-X alone.
"They're a perfect blend of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. They also contain fiber and prebiotics that work to improve gut flora, keep us satiated, and balance our blood sugar. Mitigating spikes in blood sugar helps prevent bloat by minimizing the cortisol response that causes us to retain water." — Serena Goldstein, a naturopathic doctor specializing in hormonal health.
Careful, though: Because of their high fiber content, almonds can actually cause bloating, gas, and stomach upset in some folks that eat too many. Best to start slow and gauge how they make you feel over time.
Nikkhah Bodagh M, Maleki I, Hekmatdoost A. Ginger in Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials. Food Sci Nutr. 2019;7(1):96-108. doi:10.1002/fsn3.807
Seo AY, Kim N, Oh DH. Abdominal Bloating: Pathophysiology and Treatment. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013;19(4):433-453. doi:10.5056/jnm.2013.19.4.433
Improving Your Health With Fiber. Cleveland Clinic. April 15, 2019