10 Bloating Remedies (Besides the Low FODMAP Diet)
Are you feeling frustrated with your IBS and completely out of control? Are you overwhelmed by all of the (often conflicting) information out there on bloating remedies (and the rest of the symptoms..)? Have you heard about the low FODMAP diet but think it sounds too difficult? Or, have you done the low FODMAP diet but you still don’t feel completely ‘normal’ again?
The good news is there are lots of little bloating remedies you can try that can help relieve your IBS symptoms. So, if you’re a bit overwhelmed by the thought of trying the low FODMAP Diet right now, just start small. You can start by implementing some of these changes and seeing how they affect your gut, then work your way up. Just take it a step at a time.
On the other hand, if you’ve tried low FODMAP Diet and it’s helped to relieve your IBS symptoms, but you’re still not feeling completely ‘normal’, try some of these tips. Knowing your triggers and eliminating them will be a huge help in controlling your symptoms. However, there are lots of other factors at play that can help you feel even better than you already do.
I’ve put together a list of 10 little bloating remedies you can try right now. These are all small, simple changes that can easily be incorporated into your life. However, they can bring big results and leave you feeling so much more comfortable every day. Simply making these little changes can help reduce your bloating and stomach pain and help your digestive system run more smoothly.
PLAN OF ACTION
Now, I’m not suggesting you go out and try all ten of these straight away. That’s only going to make you more overwhelmed. I would pick one of the bloating remedies below that appeals the most to you and trial it for 10 days. See if it relieves your IBS symptoms at all. If so, great. Keep doing it. Then pick another one and try that for 10 days. If it doesn’t help your symptoms, great, now you know. Go and try another one and see if that does…
The thing about IBS is that there are so many different factors that can affect how you feel every day. Also, what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. The condition is so individual.. All of these little things have worked for me, but maybe only 3 or 4 of them will work for you.
1. DRINK MORE WATER
I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but it really does help with digestion! There are 2 key reasons for this. The first is that water helps your body to break down food, so it can digest it and absorb the nutrients. The other is that water helps to soften your poo, which helps avoid constipation. So, try to drink 2 litres of water a day. If you do a lot of exercise or live in hot country, then you’ll need even more than this..it’s individual to you. There are loads of cool bottles and apps out there now that help you track the amount of water you’re drinking. If you don’t want to invest in these, just buy a one litre bottle and try to drink 2 lots of it!
2. ADJUST YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE
It’s a well known fact that caffeine is a stimulant to your gut. When you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine in it reaches your gut and increases movements down there. This basically means it makes all of the processes in your gut happen much more quickly, resulting in you needing the bathroom! This makes it a common cause of bloating & other symptoms in people with IBS. In one study, almost 40% of IBS patients identified coffee as symptom trigger.
So many of the guides to bloating remedies will tell you to cut out caffeine altogether, but I disagree. My opinion is that this is a very individual thing and you need to work out what's right for you. If you suffer from diarrhea then I'd advise cutting out caffeine as much as possible, as it will make your symptoms worse. However, if you suffer from constipation, then caffeine works as a great natural laxative. I fall under this category and I find a cup of coffee in the morning a huge help in getting my digestion going. It’s one of the key components of my personal tummy taming plan!
Now, I’m not saying to start drinking 10 cups a day, as that isn’t going to help anyone. The British Dietetic Association recommends no more than 3 cups a day, but my recommendation would be to stick with one. You also need to consider the effect of caffeine on other lifestyle factors, like stress and sleep.
So my advice is, take into account whether you suffer from mainly D or C and then try to reduce or increase your caffeine intake accordingly. If you have IBS-D, try eliminating coffee. If you have IBS-C, try having one cup every morning.
(Remember, caffeine is in a lot of things, not just coffee. For example, tea, chocolate and fizzy drinks.)
3. CUT BACK ON BOOZE
Alcohol is also known to be a gut irritant, with the most common gut symptom being diarrhea. This is most common in women and those with IBS-D. However, if you suffer from constipation I wouldn’t advise you to up your intake in the same way as with caffeine. This is because you need to consume a lot of alcohol before you’ll get these results and by that stage, you’ll probably have a pretty bad hangover, which won’t do your gut any favours. There is only a small amount of evidence linking a reduction in alcohol to relief of IBS symptoms, but it is seen in people that drink heavily. So, my advice here would be to avoid any binge drinking.
4. CUT DOWN ON ‘BAD’ FATS
In a recent survey, 44% of IBS patients said that eating fatty foods lead to IBS symptoms. Here, I’m referring to ‘bad’ (or saturated) fats, which are normally the ones that are hard to digest. This means things like deep fried foods, pizza, creamy desserts, rich sauces and dressings. This is confirmed by the British Society of Gastroenterology, which notes that people with IBS have poor tolerance to these fats. The main reason for this is because of the lipids in fats, which slow the transport of gas in your gut, meaning it stays in there for longer. This can lead to bloating and stomach pain.
You want to be careful to just focus on reducing the ‘bad’ fats, as your body actually needs healthy fats! For a full run down of the different types of fats & how they affect your gut, check out this blog post. If you suffer from a lot of bloating, try replacing some of the fats in your diet with lower fat or ‘healthy’ fat alternatives. E.g., try swapping cream for yoghurt, vegetable oil for olive oil or creamy salad dressings for balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
5. LIMIT FRESH FRUIT
But, fruit is so good for you, right?! I used to eat about 5 portions of it a day because I loved it so much and thought I was doing my body so much good. I was wrong. Even though fruit is really healthy and contains lots of amazing nutrients, it also contains a lot of sugar (fructose and sorbitol mainly). These sugars can cause a lot of digestive problems and lead to you feeling really bloated. Therefore, even if you are consuming low FODMAP fruits, try to restrict intake to no more than 3 servings per day, to help relieve your bloating.
6. TRY OATS & LINSEED
Oats are a type of soluble fibre that'ss been shown to help with both constipation and diarrhoea. Linseed are an insoluble fibre that have been shown to improve bloating. Together, oats & (up to 2tbsp a day of) linseed have been proven to improve bloating, stomach pain and constipation in IBS sufferers. The UK NICE guidelines recommends them as brilliant wind and bloating remedies.
To get oats into your diet, try starting the day with an oat based breakfast, like porridge or overnight oats. To get linseed in, try sprinkling a tablespoon over your lunch and dinner (you can buy them whole or ground).
7. EAT REGULARLY
Try to eat 3 meals a day - avoid missing meals or leaving long gaps between eating. Your gut loves a routine and functions best when you eat regularly and at the same time each day. Whatever schedule you go with, the more you can stick to regular times, the happier your gut will be.
As well as eating at regular times, try to eat regular portions - watch the amount of food that you’re eating in one go. If you have IBS, your gut can get overwhelmed when you eat a lot of food in one go. So, you’re much better off eating slightly smaller portions but more often.
8. EAT SLOWLY
This is definitely not easy, especially when you’re try to cram lunch into the 5 minutes you’ve got between meetings. However, your gut will thank you if you really take the time to think about what you’re eating. It lets it digest your food well when it gets down there, so it won’t be overwhelmed. When you eat too quickly, or whilst on the go, your parasympathetic nervous system (they call this the ‘rest and digest’ system) actually turns off, meaning your body won’t be able to digest the food you’re putting in.
Slowing down to eat will avoid this and is one of the best bloating remedies. As a bonus, it also helps you to eat more mindfully and gives your stomach more time to feel full, so stops you overeating. To kick start this, try taking 30 seconds to sit and breath before starting to eat. It’ll let your gut relax and prepare for digestion.
9. TRY HOT WATER WITH LEMON IN THE MORNING
When you wake up in the morning, your digestive system needs movement to get started. Making a cup of warm water with lemon is a really simple way to give it this. The movement of getting out of bed, going to the kitchen and boiling a kettle, will give that movement. Then the action of sipping on the drink will be sending water and lemon down into the gut, which will really get it moving. These two things, in combination, will help to get that digestive system of yours moving properly right at the start of the day. This should help reduce your IBS symptoms throughout the day.
It’s so easy to get into a habit where you’re hardly moving. You get up, drive/train to work and then sit at your desk all day. You’re then so exhausted when you get home that you just want to sit on the sofa for the evening. However, a bit of movement will help your gut so much!
Exercise increases motility in your gut, which is great for constipation. It also just helps your digestive system function better and therefore is brilliant for all IBS symptoms. Another benefit is that it reduces stress, which can be a big factor in IBS.
You don’t have to start a whole new exercise regime. Even 20 minutes of walking per day will help this. Try scheduling exercise into your days so you have a plan to stick to. This could mean 3 gym sessions a week or it could mean a 20 minute walk after work each day, or even swapping part of your commute for a walk.
WHAT TO DO NEXT?
Lots of the recommendations above are part of the NICE guidelines. Loads of studies have shown that following these improves IBS symptoms..one showed that 54% of IBS sufferers were satisfied with their symptoms after trying them. That should be enough of an incentive to give them a try.
You might find some of these totally relieve your bloating. Amazing! You might find that they give you some relief but you’d still like more, or they might have no effect at all.
If you’re one of the latter two, don’t be discouraged. Studies that compared the NICE guidelines’ bloating remedies to the low FODMAP diet, show the low FODMAP diet gives better results, particularly in people with diarrhoea, pain and bloating. One showed that 76% of IBS sufferers were satisfied with their IBS symptoms after trying the low FODMAP diet (compared to the 54% above).
So, once you’ve tried these approaches, if you’d still like more symptom relief, think about trying the low FODMAP Diet. You can find out more about how to start it here.
There are lots of simple bloating remedies that you can implement right away. I’d recommend trying these first before tackling the low FODMAP diet. It’ll give you a bit of symptom relief and confidence to move onto the next step.
Drink more water
Adjust your caffeine intake
Cut back on booze
Cut down on ‘bad’ fats
Limit fresh fruit
Try oats & linseed
Try hot water with lemon in the morning
If some of these bloating remedies have worked for you, great. If you’d still like more relief from your symptoms, consider trying the low FODMAP diet to work out your specific triggers.
I’d love to hear about which ones of these work for you! Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this,