Understanding Bloating: Causes, Natural Solutions, and the Gut-Brain Connection

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We’ve all been there – nearly 18% of us struggle with bloating once a week. Bloating is a digestive issue. Twice as many women than men report struggling with bloating. At times painful, it’s important to understand bloating and find natural solutions. This article will help you understand what causes bloating and how the gut-brain connection can help improve your well-being, as well as equip you with natural solutions to bloating that can improve your gut health.


What is Bloating?

Bloating, a feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdomen, is a common experience that can significantly impact our daily lives. It’s often accompanied by excessive gas, discomfort, and a distended stomach. While occasional bloating is nothing to worry about, chronic bloating can disrupt our well-being and signal underlying digestive issues.


Learn about Digestive Health at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.


 Worst Foods to Eat for Bloating

These foods can be difficult for some people to digest:

  • Cruciferous Vegetables
  • Alternative and Artificial Sweeteners
  • Dairy Products
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Salty Foods


Foods that May Alleviate Bloating

Foods that support digestive health, and help relieve bloating include:

  • Probiotic-Rich Foods
  • Ginger
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple


 Causes of Bloating

Bloating can pop up for various reasons. Here are common causes of bloating:

 Digestive Issues: Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can disrupt digestion and lead to bloating due to gas production, inflammation, or difficulty processing certain foods.

 Diet: Diet also plays a significant role. Think of your gut as a complex ecosystem teeming with bacteria. These tiny residents help us digest food but certain foods like cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), legumes, beans, and some high-fiber foods can cause gut microbes to produce gas as they break things down. This gas can build up and lead to bloating.

 Swallowing Air: Talking while eating, chewing gum, or chugging fizzy drinks (carbonated beverages) also contributes to that inflated feeling – bloating.

 Constipation: When stool remains in the colon for too long, it can cause bloating and abdominal distention. Low fiber intake and dehydration can cause constipation.

 Stress and Anxiety: The gut-brain axis is a complex two-way communication system. The gut and brain are constantly in conversation, so when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, it can mess with your digestion and cause bloating. Stress and anxiety can trigger the release of hormones that slow down digestion, leading to bloating and other digestive issues.

 Hormones: These internal messengers travel around the bloodstream impacting your health, including your digestive system. Bloating is commonly worse during the second half of the menstrual cycle (the luteal phase) Symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, and bloating are generally greatest during menses, when estrogen and progesterone drop down to the lowest levels in the body. Keeping a food diary that also tracks your cycle can help shed light on whether certain foods or hormones are contributing to your bloating.


How Do You Relieve Bloating Naturally?

The good news is, there are ways to fight back against the bloat and reclaim your digestive peace. Adopt a holistic lifestyle, one where you consider how your food, movement, daily habits, mindset, and stress impact bloating. This is the best way to relieve bloating naturally. Here are 11 natural solutions for bloating.


11 Natural Solutions for Bloating


  1. Avoid Gas-Producing Foods

Common culprits include salt, cruciferous vegetables, and onions. Excessive salt intake can draw water into the intestines and lead to bloating. Limit processed foods and focus on whole, unprocessed options.


As for cruciferous vegetables, they offer such nutritious benefits you may not want to cut them out of your diet. Consider steaming or roasting these vegetables to reduce gas production. In fact, research shows steaming broccoli is the best way to cook it – fewer nutrients are lost, and some research suggests helpful glucosinolates even increase in levels when steamed.

Start a food diary to help identify food triggers. Track what you eat and see if you can identify any specific triggers. Be the detective – is it the delicious beans in your soup, or could it be dairy (lactose intolerance). Once you know the food culprits, you can limit them. Gradually reintroduce them one at a time to help you discover your gut’s sensitivities.


  1. Eat More Fiber

While some high-fiber foods can cause bloating initially, incorporating soluble fiber-rich options like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help regulate digestion and reduce bloating in the long run. Eat more fiber – it’s good for you! To avoid bloating, increase your intake of these fiber-rich foods slowly – this allows your gut bacteria time to adapt.


  1. Drink More Water

Without enough water, your digestive system finds it hard to move things along. The result is constipation. And, experts agree, constipation can cause bloating. So, drink up!


  1. Eat Slower. Be Mindful.

You will enjoy your food more and be more satisfied when you eat slowly, shows research. Plus, when you are not chomping down your food like it’s a race, causing you to swallow air, it can reduce bloating. In addition, slowing down reduces stress – which is linked to digestive health.


  1. Try Ginger

Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties that aid digestion and can help reduce bloating, according to research. Try ginger in salad dressings and stir-fries or enjoy tasty ginger chews.


  1. Exercise

Go for a 10- to 15-minute walk after eating to relieve bloating, shows science. The study had 94 individuals walk after eating for 4 weeks – it effectively reduced bloating.


  1. Sleep

Recommendations are adults should aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep. Your sleep-deprived body cannot function as well, including your digestive tract. Plus, research shows sleep deprivation is linked to higher cytokines (markers of inflammation) – higher cytokines are also seen in digestive disorders (IBS). Clearly, there’s value in getting some more sleep.


  1. Manage Stress

Since the gut and brain are constantly communicating, stress can wreak havoc on your digestion. Yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help you manage stress. Even audio-guided imagery for relaxation has been found in research to improve bloating. When you calm your mind, it can be a natural way to relieve bloating. The gut-brain axis is influenced by your stress level and your gut microbiome. As such, probiotics can be helpful.


  1. Probiotics

Probiotics are helpful microbes that help maintain and promote digestive health. The more probiotics present, the less gas-producing harmful microbes present – helping to relieve bloating, according to over 70 scientific studies.

Restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut, with fiber-rich plants (fruits, vegetables, whole grains), and probiotic-containing foods (yogurt, kimchi, or sauerkraut,). Probiotic supplements may also be helpful for some.


  1. Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes may also be helpful for some people. Found in papaya and pineapple, these foods can be supportive to digestive systems struggling with bloating.



More About The Gut-Brain Connection and Bloating

The gut-brain axis is a complex network of communication between the gut microbiome and the central nervous system. The trillions of bacteria in your gut communicate with the brain through hormones and neurotransmitters. It’s a two-way street. That means what you eat can impact your mood. Plus, any stress or anxiety can trigger digestive issues, such as bloating. Hence, supporting gut health can help naturally relieve bloating, and have positive impacts on your wellbeing – including your mood.


Course: Bloating and Digestive Health

Bloating can significantly impact our daily lives. If you’d like to learn more about bloating and digestive health, study with top natural health educators at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Current, science-based, educational courses and interactive workshops available via live online, in-person, hybrid, and self-study online help you learn the practical skills to improve your health, and that of others.


Learn the root causes of digestive symptoms, such as bloating, and ways to implement a combination of diet, lifestyle, and stress management techniques to effectively improve gut health and promote wellbeing at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.






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