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Bloating is a condition in which your belly feels tight or blown up like a balloon. Some people with bloating experience abdominal distension, which is when your stomach seems to be sticking out more than usual. Bloat also often goes hand in hand with gas.

Several different gastrointestinal problems can cause bloating. One of the most common causes of bloat is constipation. When stool gets backed up in the intestines it begins to ferment, causing gases to be released. These gases can become trapped in the stomach and intestines, causing bloat.

Some people are more sensitive to abdominal gas than others. People with both irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and stress or anxiety are particularly sensitive to bloating. This means that even if they don’t have larger amounts of gas, they’re more likely to experience the uncomfortable symptoms of bloat and abdominal distension.

Gastroparesis is another digestive condition that can lead to bloating. Gastroparesis is a condition that delays stomach emptying. When the stomach empties more slowly than normal, it can cause bloating, nausea, and constipation.

There’s no cure for bloating and gas, but there are treatments that can help control uncomfortable symptoms.

For years, people have been using apple cider vinegar (ACV) to treat digestive issues like gas and bloating. Although there’s not yet any scientific evidence to support its use, anecdotal reports suggest that ACV may be an effective natural treatment option.

ACV is often touted as a cure-all capable of treating everything from acne to cancer. Unfortunately, many of these claims are exaggerated or even completely false.

There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that ACV is an effective treatment for bloating or gas. In fact, the only clinical study ever completed on ACV and digestive problems found that ACV can actually impair gastric emptying.

The small study, conducted in 10 patients with type 1 diabetes and diabetic gastroparesis, found that ACV slowed down, rather than sped up, gastric emptying.

When gastric emptying slows, it takes the muscles in the stomach and intestines longer to push stool out of the body. The longer it remains in the intestines, the more gas it produces. Therefore, ACV could potentially make your symptoms of gas and bloating worse.

However, people who don’t have gastroparesis may find that ACV aids in digestion, as many have claimed.

If you have low stomach acid, for example, you may experience bloating due to bacteria buildup in your stomach. This can happen when food isn’t broken down. Because ACV may help increase stomach acid and may also be antimicrobial in nature, it could theoretically help.

There are many ways to incorporate ACV into a healthy diet. Some people drink ACV straight, but others prefers to mix it with water or other liquids.

To reap the many benefits of ACV, consider taking about 1 tablespoon once or twice per day.

When you purchase ACV, make sure to get a brand that contains “the mother.” The mother is a layer composed of yeast and acetic acid bacteria. It forms naturally during the fermentation process.

This layer is filtered out in traditional vinegars, but it’s both a prebiotic (promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut) and contains a colony of beneficial bacteria.

Before drinking raw, unfiltered vinegar, shake it thoroughly to disperse the mother. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to 1 cup of water.

Here are some other ways to add ACV to your day:

  1. Make ACV tea. Add 1 tablespoon of ACV to 1 cup of steaming water. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice for added digestive benefits. Sweeten with a drizzle of bee’s honey.
  2. Add ACV to a smoothie. Mask the bitter taste of ACV by adding it to a fruit smoothie. To support healthy digestion, place 1 tablespoon of ACV, 1/2 cup of raspberries, 1/3 cup of apple chunks, and 1/2 of a banana in a blender with ice.
  3. Put ACV on a salad. ACV makes an excellent salad dressing. For a quick and easy dressing, blend 1 tablespoon of ACV with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add a dash of ground pepper.
  4. Take ACV on the go. Try an organic apple cider vinegar shot from Vermont Village, available for purchase on Amazon. This to-go shot contains the mother and is flavored with honey and turmeric.

Apple cider vinegar is generally considered safe. However, it’s important to remember that ACV is a mild acid. Avoid contact with your teeth and rinse your mouth after.

In one case, prolonged exposure to an ACV tablet caused burns to the esophagus. Prolonged topical exposure has burned skin.

Apple cider vinegar may have many health benefits, but its use against bloat is still waiting for research to support this age-old practice. There may be other, more effective natural remedies for gas and bloat.

If you have ongoing issues with bloating, talk to your doctor about it. Sometimes bloating is caused by a serious condition. Your doctor can determine a diagnosis and treatment to help you find relief.