There's no way around it: Feeling bloated stinks. Whether it was something you ate, or how you ate, or something else entirely — there are some things you can do to help alleviate the bloat and the discomfort. With these natural (and often overlooked) remedies, you'll likely experience the benefits immediately.
Here are five ways to reduce bloating and feel better now:
1. Deep Breathing
Eating in a rush or in a stressed state limits the production of digestive juices like enzymes and how much blood and oxygen circulates to the digestive organs. As a result, the food can feel like it's just sitting in your stomach, undigested, fermenting and causing bloating.
Take this opportunity to breathe deeply, settling yourself into a relaxed state of mind, which increases the body's digestive activity. Allowing the diaphragm to expand downward toward the stomach with deep breaths can help move things around so all the food can contact the digestive juices. By fully oxygenating the lungs, more fresh blood will be able to circulate to the digestive system. This triple action will set your digestive system back on the right track, helping it to digest rather than ferment, and to reduce bloating and gas.
All it takes is a little relaxation and deep breathing.
2. Pu-erh Tea
If your belly is feeling heavy after a greasy meal, consider sipping on pu-erh tea. Unlike green, black, or other teas, pu-erh tea goes through a slight fermentation process before final drying. This process creates certain enzymes that are known in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help breakdown fatty, oily, and undigested foods. It's one of the most popular teas in China for digestion and weight control.
For best results, sip on pu-erh at least 35 minutes after eating (so as not to dilute digestive juices). Pu-erh tea should be steeped in boiling water.
You may have had mixed experiences with probiotics; perhaps you've found some that seemed to actually cause bloating while others made no impact one way or the other. You may need to test different brands or formulations of probiotics to find the one that works for you. But you'll know when you've found the right one: You'll be regular, bloating will be noticeably reduced, and your digestive system will feel consistently effective.
Here are a few tips to help you find the right one. If you're new to probiotics, you may need to start with a lower dose until you begin to rebalance gut flora or deal with underlying gut issues. Another option is to look for a single-strain probiotic to determine if your system is reactive to certain blends or certain strains. If you're sensitive to FODMAPs (fermentable carbohydrates, like beans) and your probiotic contains FOS or Inulin, this could be the cause of bloating when taking probiotics. One probiotic I've found very effective at reducing bloating is VSL, available online or at the pharmacy window of your local drugstore (Note: It needs to be refrigerated).
Yoga is effective at reducing bloating for many of the same reasons as deep breathing: It relaxes you; it alleviates stress and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, commonly called "rest and digest." But yoga offers even more advantages to help alleviate bloating.
For example, doing twists and side bends can help move the contents of the stomach around so they come into contact with digestive juices. Apanasana, or "wind relieving" pose, in which you lie on your back and pull your knees into your chest, can help move gas through the system. Vajrasana (sitting upright on your knees and shins) is sometimes translated as "rock" pose because it's believed this pose increases your digestive fire enough to be able to digest a rock. Malasana, while commonly translated as "squatting" pose or "garland" pose, actually comes from "mala," a word in Ayurveda which means wastes. Therefore, malasana pose helps to move wastes through and out of the lower digestive system, which can ensure you have a flat lower belly.
5. Herbal Infusions
Undoubtedly, you've read that infusions of ginger or mint are both good for digestion. Ginger facilitates increased secretion of digestive juices while mint helps relax the muscles to allow foods to settle and pass through. Even a chamomile infusion can reduce the spasmodic activity that can contribute to gas.
There are also some herbs from Chinese Medicine that may be even more effective, for example, lotus leaf and Chinese hawthorn. When your digestion is feeling sluggish, incomplete, or stagnant, look to Chinese hawthorn; in China it is widely used to aid the processing of undigested food and wastes and to support liver health and function. Lotus leaf assists in the transit of carbs and fats and can help alleviate the bloating caused by water retention. Pour boiling water over these herbs, steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then sip to facilitate easier digestion, less buildup of wastes, and the resulting flatter stomach.
Whether you're trying to get your skinny jeans buttoned or ensure a flat belly before putting on a swimsuit, these simple, fast, and effective tricks can help ensure your digestion is smooth, easy, and consistent.