Bloating is an issue many people deal with on a regular basis. It can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and even embarrassing. Luckily there are plenty of supplements that can help ease the discomfort of this common issue.
While these five causes cover most bloating cases, there are still other causes, including menstruation and reactions to certain medications. Fortunately there are many ways to help reduce bloating naturally. If, however, you experience frequent bloating and your body does not respond to these options, it is best to see your healthcare provider. Although some bloating is benign, chronic bloating and intestinal pain can be symptoms of a more serious problem.
Supplements can be a helpful way to manage symptoms of bloating. Here are 10 of the best supplements that may help to ease bloating.
Peppermint has been a long held home remedy for a number of intestinal issues, including bloating. Peppermint helps relax the muscles in your stomach, which can aid with slow digestion or bloating caused by gas in the bowels. Menthol, the main compound in peppermint giving it the distinct smell and taste, also provides a cooling effect which can reduce bloating and gas. This effect can also alleviate period pain and cramps during menstruation. If you experience indigestion from time to time, you should use caution with peppermint as it may make it worse.
Peppermint can be taken as several forms, including peppermint leaves, which can be steeped to make a tea, or as peppermint oil, which can be added to drinks or taken on its own. Its pleasant, refreshing taste and smell make it an easy addition to any diet. If taking peppermint as a supplement, making sure it is enteric coated can help the oil get to the intestines instead of the stomach.
Just like peppermint, ginger is a carminative. Carminatives are herbs that help indigestion in a number of ways. It decreases pressure on the intestinal tract and supports gut motility by helping to move food through the small and large intestine. This can help to reduce constipation and the bloating that often comes with it. Ginger, therefore, can help with relieving bloating and other temporary intestinal discomforts.
Probiotics are a key component of overall gut health. They are the healthy bacteria and other microbes naturally found in the gut and support digestion and immune health. These microbes help break food down, allowing our bodies to absorb more of the nutrients in the foods we eat. When there are not enough healthy microbes or an imbalance of microbes in the gut, your body may experience bloating and other intestinal issues. Probiotic bacteria can actually produce digestive enzymes that help break down carbs, fibers, and proteins to make them more manageable for our digestive systems.
Care/of’s Probiotic Blend supplement contains three strains of bacteria that have been extensively studied for their digestive and immune support benefits.
Digestive enzymes are naturally produced in the body in response to the presence of food in the stomach. They help to break down foods into their simplest forms – glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids – and boost nutrient absorption. Some foods even naturally contain some enzymes, such as papaya, which contains papain, and pineapple, which contains bromelain.
Digestive enzymes can also be taken as a supplement to support digestion when digestive symptoms like gas and bloating occur after meals, which may indicate inadequate digestion. For example, supplementing with alpha-galactosidase enzyme can reduce gas production following a meal rich in fermentable carbohydrates.
Care/of’s Digestive Enzymes contain a blend of enzymes that can help break down not only carbs, protein, and fats but also fibers, lactose, and gluten.
Chamomile has a long and storied history when it comes to health benefits. It has been noted for its medicinal properties and makes for a good, natural option to many gastrointestinal issues. Chamomile is most commonly found as a tea, and like many of the other carminatives that we’ve talked about, chamomile is good at relaxing the muscles in the digestive tract. It helps alleviate gas build-up and even protects the lining of the intestines. Besides being great for regulating bloatingand nausea, chamomile can also aid in optimizing digestive health.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid naturally found in high protein foods such as meat, poultry, fish dairy, and eggs. It is particularly good for our digestive tract, as L-glutamine is used by cells in the intestinal lining as a fuel source and can help gut cells to build and repair. The amino acid can also help regulate tight junctions, the space connecting the cells of the gut lining to create a strong protective barrier.
Psyllium husk is a commonly used fiber source often available in a powder form or in capsules. Like other fiber sources, psyllium husk can help with bloating by supporting regular bowel movements. It is generally a well-tolerated fiber source, as it is less fermentable by gut bacteria and therefore can be helpful for those already struggling with bloating. Psyllium husk forms a gel when mixed with water or liquids and can therefore help soften stools. Because it absorbs water easily, it is important to drink plenty of water when taking it or any kind of extra fiber. Not staying hydrated can result in even more bloating or constipation. Psyllium is safe and can be taken every day.
Cinnamon has been a commonly used spice for thousands of years. It is a popular addition to baking, cooking, and even wellness regimes. Cinnamon is known for having many beneficial properties, including contributing to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels (already in normal range), being antimicrobial, and containing high levels of polyphenols. Polyphenols are found in plant-based foods, herbs, and spices. They support digestive health by acting as a prebiotic to boost levels of healthy gut bacteria. Cinnamon is also a carminative, so it can calm the digestive tract in much the same way peppermint, ginger, and chamomile do.
Activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon, is a form of carbon that has been processed to have a highly porous structure. The pores make the charcoal effective at trapping and absorbing a wide range of substances, including excess gas in the intestines.
A double-blind clinical trial tested the efficacy of activated charcoal by giving participants a substance that can often increase gas in the gut by fermentation of gut bacteria. Those that also received activated charcoal during the trial had less gas production and symptoms of bloating and abdominal cramps when compared to the placebo group.
It is important to note that, due to activated charcoal’s ability to absorb a wide range of substances, it can also absorb nutrients and medications when taken close together. So be sure to take activated charcoal at least 2 hours apart from other medications and supplements.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because exposure to sunlight on our skin helps our bodies produce vitamin D. Sufficient sun exposure is often the best way to get adequate vitamin D in the body. However, people who live in areas that get less sunshine or spend a lot of time indoors are often lacking this nutrient. On top of this, only a few foods naturally provide a source of vitamin D, including oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, and egg yolks. For these reasons and more, vitamin D deficiency is all too common.
Vitamin D has been extensively studied and is known for its role in improving the health of gut microbiome and immune system. In fact, one study showed that people who took a vitamin D supplement over six months experienced fewer gastrointestinal issues overall, including less gas and bloating.
Since it can be difficult to get sufficient sun exposure or enough vitamin D through diet alone, supplementation with vitamin D can be a helpful step. It is best practice to get your vitamin D levels in your blood checked first before supplementing to understand if and how much might be best for you.
There are numerous natural ways to improve your gut health and prevent bloating.
Bloating can be a sign of the gut microbiome adjusting to changes in diet. A sudden increase in fiber can result in brief bouts of bloating. Gradually adjusting the diet or introducing new foods may help to prevent more intense bloating.
Food sensitivities may cause bloating. Try keeping a daily food journal for a period of time to help you see if you notice any patterns. A registered dietitian who specializes in gut health can help you navigate this process and know what to do next.
Try to eat in a relaxed, calm state, which is necessary for the body to produce digestive enzymes, stomach acid, and bile in response to eating. Rushing through meals can lead to swallowing too much air, which can cause air to get trapped in the gut and lead to gas and bloating. Rushing and not chewing foods thoroughly can also lead to bloating due to poor digestion of foods.
If you are not having regular, daily bowel movements, tune into your diet to see if you are eating enough fiber. Per USDA Dietary Guidelines, it is recommended that most adults get at least 25-34 g of fiber daily. If you aren’t hitting those goals, consider gradually increasing fiber foods in your diet or adding in a fiber supplement.
Get regular physical activity. One study found that mild exercise improved release of gas in patients with bloating. Mild to moderate exercise, such as walking or swimming, can help to push gas through and out the gut and also has beneficial effects on the gut microbiome. Consider going for a brief walk after meals to support digestion. High intensity exercise, on the other hand, may increase bloating in some people.
Drink a warm tea made with gut calming ingredients, including peppermint, ginger, or chamomile. Try yoga, meditation, or breathwork to help calm your nervous system and gut.
Occasional bloating can be uncomfortable, and luckily there are plenty of supplements as well as dietary and lifestyle practices to get you relief.
Supplements that reduce bloating often come with other benefits for digestive health, like reducing gas, promoting healthy bowel movements, and overall promoting abdominal comfort.
While bloating can happen occasionally for most people, if it does not resolve, you should talk with your healthcare provider to understand if additional treatment is needed.