A topic that I get asked about a lot is bloating. It happens to the best of us, and 15%-30% of US citizens have claimed to suffer from bloating. There have been times when I’ve felt bloated for days, and I’m sure we can all relate. Bloating is uncomfortable, makes us feel sluggish, and makes it nearly impossible to enjoy our day. I’ve filmed a few YouTube videos about reducing and eliminating bloating, but I wanted to write a blog post that dug even deeper. While breathing exercises, physical activity, and staying hydrated are some of the most popular remedies, I’ve rounded up more all-natural remedies that have worked for me when it comes to bloating.
A recent study showed that nearly 36% of Americans are dieting, and the top diet of choice is intermittent fasting. Many people who fast claim they see a difference in their bloating issues in just under a week. If you’re unfamiliar with how intermittent fasting works, it means that you only consume food during an eight-hour window of your day, and the other 16 hours are meant to be spent fasting. I have a full video on my thoughts on intermittent fasting here.
Ginger is considered to be one of the most anti-inflammatory ingredients out there. It’s the most potent and powerful when it comes straight from the root, but ginger is often found in supplements and teas as well. Because ginger relieves discomfort and protects the stomach lining, it can help with bloating, nausea, pain, and more. Ginger root can look intimidating if you’ve never used it, but it’s actually so simple to throw into a blender. You can buy it at almost any health food store or grocery store. When you’re ready to use it, just break off a little piece, rinse, peel, and throw in the blender (some people don’t peel it—I personally do, because the peel can make it a little bitter if the ginger is over a couple days old).
Fennel has been known to work wonders for the digestive system. In traditional medicine, fennel has been used to alleviate everything from bloating to abdominal pain to intense gas. A recent study showed that fennel plants and seeds have anti-inflammatory properties and are also antibacterial and antifungal. Its seeds and powder have a licorice-like taste, and you can really sprinkle it onto any food. I even add it right into hot water with lemon to make my own tea.
One thing I’ve found to be very helpful with bloating is eating softer, more liquid-filled food. The softer the food, the more pre-digested it is, so this really implies adding more water and cooking longer. Try adding extra water to the oatmeal you make, cooking your rice or quinoa with more water so it’s almost in a broth, and eating more soups and pureed foods. Bloating or not, this will help you digest and absorb more food and nutrients. I always say—you’re not what you eat, you’re what you absorb.
Believe it or not, bloating isn’t always the result of what you’re putting into your body. Cortisol, aka the stress hormone, can trigger a variety of symptoms throughout your body, including bloating. Studies show that stress does directly affect the digestive system, which can in turn cause bloating. Some natural ways that are proven to lower cortisol are getting better sleep at night, low-intensity exercising, and meditation. One of the best exercises to reduce cortisol is walking. Not speed walking—just moderate-pace walking for about 20 minutes. Easy enough.