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Determining the cause of bloating, doing exercise, and limiting triggering foods may help reduce the symptoms of bloating and prevent uncomfortable episodes.

Abdominal bloating is a common problem, often triggered by a large meal or a gas-producing food. It can also result from gut sensitivity due to emotional changes, alterations to the gut microbiome, and various underlying health conditions.

Sometimes it’s due to a food sensitivity or food intolerance, or you might have an underlying health condition, for instance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Chronic bloating that causes moderate to severe symptoms can affect a person’s overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Here are 12 science-backed ways you can reduce or eliminate bloating.

Gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and methane enter your gut when you swallow air and food food ferments in your large intestine. This leads to increased gas.

Possible causes include:

  • eating foods that contain compounds that ferment in your colon, such as fiber, sugar alcohols, and FODMAPs
  • a food intolerance, such as a lactose or fructose intolerance
  • swallowing excess air, for example, when chewing gum
  • fluid retention in the abdomen, for instance, due to heart disease or liver failure
  • constipation
  • imbalances in your gut microbiome, the ecosystem of bacteria living in your gut
  • ileus, when the bowel stops moving food forward due to surgery, medication use, or other causes
  • having a health condition, such as IBD, IBS, or endometriosis
  • a bowel obstruction, which may also involve vomiting and constipation
  • psychological stress

If you have frequent, severe, or persistent bloating, it’s important to seek medical advice.


Bloating is triggered by many dietary and lifestyle factors, but identifying the cause can help reduce or eliminate symptoms.

Some food and dietary habits may increase the risk of bloating.

They include:

  • certain fruits, vegetables, and grains
  • some sweeteners
  • carbonated drinks
  • drinking through a straw
  • chewing gum
  • eating a large meal
  • consuming beverages while eating

Some foods — such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — can cause bloating but also provide essential nutrients. If you’re introducing them into the diet, do so gradually to reduce the risk of symptoms. It may also help if you wait an hour before eating fruit or having a drink after a meal.

Keeping a food diary may help you identify which foods and habits seem to cause your symptoms so that you can avoid them or manage how you consume them.

Which foods and drinks can help prevent bloating?


Some foods and dietary habits can increase the risk of bloating. Limiting these foods and practices may alleviate symptoms.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk.

Your body needs an enzyme called lactase to break down lactose. If you don’t produce enough lactase to do this, you may have a lactose intolerance.

With lactose intolerance, lactose passes through your gut, pulling in more water until it reaches your colon, where it’s fermented by bacteria and releases gas. This may lead to bloating, stomach pain, increased flatulence, and belching.

If you suspect you have lactose intolerance, reducing your dairy intake may help. However, it’s best to speak with a doctor first, as dairy products also provide calcium, A and B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, protein, and other key nutrients.

Alternatives with lower lactose levels or no lactose include:

  • yogurt
  • aged cheeses
  • lactose-free dairy products
  • non-dairy alternatives, such as almond milk, although they may not have the same nutritional profile as dairy

What are some lactose-free foods?


Lactose intolerance causes multiple digestive symptoms, including bloating. If you’re lactose intolerant, it’s best to avoid or limit dairy products.

Constipation can lead to bloating because it can slow the outlet of gas as well as feces. Also, the longer certain substances spend in the gut, such as lactose, the more fermentation by bacteria can take place, increasing the amounts of gas.

Ways of managing constipation include:

  • eating high-fiber foods
  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • exercising regularly
  • checking if current medications are making constipation worse
  • using over-the-counter remedies
  • asking a doctor about prescription medications

It’s best to add extra fiber gradually, otherwise bloating might become worse until your body adjusts.

Get some tips for fast constipation relief


Constipation may cause or exacerbate symptoms of bloating. Increased fiber and fluid intake, as well as physical activity, are effective natural treatments.

Bloating is a common symptom of IBS, along with abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and constipation.

Research has suggested that limiting certain carbs — fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) — may reduce bloating and other IBS symptoms.

Foods high in FODMAPs include:

  • Grains: wheat and rye
  • Dairy: milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Fruit: apples, pears, mangoes, peaches fruit juice, and dried fruits
  • Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, asparagus, onions, leeks, zucchini and green beans
  • Pulses: lentils and legumes
  • Other: sugar-free gum and honey

In a low FODMAP diet, you will eliminate certain foods for several weeks then gradually reintroduce them, monitoring their effect.


FODMAPS are poorly digested fermentable short-chain carbs found in a wide variety of foods. They ferment in your large intestine, producing gas. A low-FODMAP diet may relieve bloating in some people.

Some research suggests probiotics may help reduce bloating and other digestive symptoms by boosting the number and types of healthy bacteria in your gut.

In turn, this may reduce bloating and other symptoms common to IBS.

They are available as supplements but also occur naturally in some foods, such as:

  • yogurt
  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi
  • kombucha
  • miso
  • pickles

Still, most studies have focused on people with IBS, and the evidence is mixed. The results may depend on individual factors and the types of probiotic strains they consume.

What are the best probiotic supplements?


Probiotics may improve the bacterial environment in your gut, which may counteract bloating — especially if you have IBS.

Eating large meals and salty or fatty foods may contribute to bloating in the following ways:

  • Large portions may stretch your stomach and lead to the pooling of gases and solids in the gut.
  • High levels of carbs in the gut that are hard to digest will increase fermentation and therefore gas.
  • A high salt intake can lead to water retention in the gut, producing feelings of bloating.
  • Fats and refined carbs take longer to digest. The longer they spend in the gut, the more chance there is of gas and bloating.

Reducing portion sizes and limiting your intake of foods high in salt and fat — such as fried foods, chips, and chocolate — may help manage bloating.

Get some tips on managing portion size


Large meals and foods high in salt or fat may contribute to bloating by increasing the production and retention of gas and water in your bowels. Limiting your portion sizes and your intake of foods high in salt and fat may relieve symptoms.

Peppermint as supplements or in other forms may help with digestion.

In 2016, for instance, 72 people with IBS took 180 mg of peppermint oil capsules three times per day for 4 weeks. They reported improvements in bloating and other symptoms.

However, more studies are needed to confirm the usefulness of peppermint for bloating.


Some evidence indicates that peppermint oil combats bloating and distension in people with IBS, but more research is necessary.

Swallowing excessive amounts of air, known as aerophagia, can cause bloating.

You may swallow air if you:


Avoiding rapid eating, chewing gum, and carbonated drinks may reduce bloating by lowering the amount of gas in your gut.

Light exercise, such as walking or cycling, may help reduce bloating after meals, according to some research from 2021 that focused on people with IBS.

Additionally, regular exercise can help manage stress, a risk factor for bloating and other abdominal symptoms.

Other benefits of exercise include weight management and a lower risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions. Current guidelines recommend doing at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking.


Light exercise like walking or cycling may help clear gas from your bowels and stomach, thereby reducing bloating.

Rapid weight gain can occur for various reasons and may increase the risk of bloating. Some research suggests that 25% of people who have recently gained weight experience bloating.

This may be due to visceral (emotional) changes linked to digestion through the gut-brain axis, which links digestive functions with those of the brain.

If you are concerned about sudden weight gain, it’s best to speak with a doctor. They can advise on weight management strategies and may investigate to see if there is an underlying cause.


Recent weight gain can lead to bloating. If you have concerns about sudden weight gain and exercise and dietary measures don’t help, consider speaking with a doctor.

Bloating often involves a physiological reaction in the digestive system.

Typically, when you eat, your diaphragm rises and the front wall of your stomach contracts to create more space without pushing out your belly.

When bloating happens, the diaphragm — a muscle just below the ribs — presses down on the stomach, causing it to protrude.

It’s unclear why this occurs, but one possible solution is biofeedback.

This technique enables you to see how your muscles are reacting on a screen. By trying different movements, you can see what works well and what doesn’t. Some research suggests it may help you retrain your muscles to prevent bloating.


Some people’s bloating may be caused by an abnormal muscle reflex. Biofeedback is a therapy that helps retrain these muscles to relax and relieves the symptoms of bloating and distension.

What relieves bloating fast?

Taking some light exercise, such as a walk, after eating may help reduce bloating in the short term.

Does drinking water help with bloating?

Water can help reduce the risk of constipation, which can be a cause of bloating. It is also beneficial for overall health.

However, if you’re prone to bloating, it’s best to avoid drinking anything while you’re eating, as this may increase the risk. Instead, wait for 1 hour after eating to have a drink of any kind.

What makes stomach bloat go away?

Maintaining a healthy diet and weight, promoting good bowel habits, and getting regular exercise may help reduce bloating. If specific foods appear to trigger bloating, avoiding or eliminating these foods may help.

If you have IBS, a low FODMAP diet — and potentially products like probiotics or peppermint oil — may be helpful.

Am I bloated or fat?

Bloating usually subsides as your body digests food, while additional body fat gain persists over time.

When the bloating goes down you will not notice that your weight is lower. If you lose body fat, you should see your weight fall.

However, bloating often occurs with recent weight gain, and it’s common in people with obesity, so they may happen together.

Does bloating cause weight gain?

Bloating has been linked to recent weight gain and often affects people with obesity, but there is no evidence that it leads to weight gain.

Bloating is a common condition caused by a wide range of dietary, lifestyle, and health factors. To ensure that your nutrient needs are met and determine any other possible causes and treatments, it’s best to work with a registered dietitian (RD), gastroenterologist, or other healthcare professional when making significant changes to your diet.

If you need help finding a gastroenterologist, then check out our FindCare tool here.

Just one thing

Try this today: I always find that a light walk after eating helps reduce bloating and is a great way to get in some exercise and fresh air.

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