What are the Best Supplements For Bloating?
No one likes it when they feel like a blown-up balloon, ready to pop, with their waistband stretched tightly across the belly. When you’re this gassy and uncomfortable you just want some relief. Can supplements help? And if so, what are the best supplements for bloating?
What Causes Bloating?
There are a lot of factors that can lead to bloating, such as something you ate or drank (e.g., carbonated drinks or high FODMAP foods), hormone fluctuations, or even just sitting too much (which can slow digestion). Bloating can also come from indigestion, eating a large meal, eating too fast, traveling by air, constipation, or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
Bloating shouldn’t be confused with belly fat, which is fat that accumulates over years, or water retention, which typically leads to swelling in the legs and ankles. Instead, bloating is when the stomach suddenly is distended, you feel uncomfortable and gassy, and the abdomen is hard to the touch because the intestinal tract is filled with air or due to constipation.
It’s completely normal to experience bloating from time to time. If it happens regularly, adjusting your diet and activity levels can help a lot. Unfortunately, those types of changes usually take time. There are over-the-counter remedies, but many can also lead to issues over the long term or are a bit too harsh, disrupting the digestive system and making matters worse.
Fortunately, there are supplements that may help offer relief and improve digestion, so you feel like yourself again. Here are eight of the best supplements for bloating to consider next time you feel like you could pop (or to add to your regular routine to help prevent it from happening in the first place).
8 Best Supplements for Bloating
These live microorganisms found in the gut have been shown to offer a host of health benefits, including helping reduce bloating, promote bowel functioning, and decrease traveler’s diarrhea, and more. 1 Of course, probiotics are found in foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir, but there are also quality probiotic supplements which have been shown to help reduce bloating and gas and promote regularity. 2 – 4
For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus has been shown in research to help ease bloating while other probiotics like Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacterium lactis may help support regularity. 4 – 6
2. Ginger Root
Best known for helping relieve nausea or motion sickness, ginger has also been found to help relax the intestines and stimulate gastric motility and emptying, which may help ease belly discomfort and bloating. 7, 8 Basically, you can think of ginger helping keep the digestive “conveyor belt” moving.
3. Digestive Enzymes
As we age, digestion can become less efficient, which can lead to bloating, gas, and discomfort. 9 Enzymes such as proteases, galactosidase, lipases, cellulases, and bromelain (among others) can help provide digestive support. In addition, these types of enzymes may help the body better absorb nutrients to convert food into energy.
Digestive enzymes have been shown to be especially helpful for those who are sensitive to lactose, gluten, or other foods. 10, 11 For the best results, look for a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplement.
One common cause of bloating is enjoying a spur-of-the-moment high-fat meal (hello, taco truck). Because fats digest more slowly, the belly can feel distended and gassy for hours after a heavy meal. 12 In this case, cinnamon has been shown to help fats more easily digest. One study, for example, gave participants a cinnamon oil capsule daily for six weeks and found it significantly reduced signs of indigestion. 13 Enjoy cinnamon in tea or as a supplement, though, rather than a cinnamon bun, as all the fat and sugar in the bun can make the issue worse.
Peppermint in the form of tea, oil, or supplements, may help calm the muscles in the stomach, increase gastric acid, and increase the flow of bile. This, in turn, may aid digestion, especially of fats. As a result, it can help move foods through the digestive system, helping painful gas to pass and smooth digestion. 14, 15
Another food-based supplement that may offer relief of trapped gas that causes bloating is fennel. Because of its properties as a potential anti-inflammatory, it may help relax muscles in the intestine, so the gas can naturally dissipate. 16
Another group of nutrients that can help support healthy digestion is prebiotics. These are a special type of fiber found in foods like Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, apples, and oats that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. That way, the microbiome can thrive on its own. If you aren’t eating enough of these types of fibrous foods (around four grams per day), they’re also available in supplements. 17 Inulin, in particular, appears to help support normal bowel movements for greater regularity and decreased bloating. 18
Because prebiotics can also cause issues, such as stomachaches or increased gas, when too many are consumed too quickly, it’s a good idea to add them to the diet slowly over time. 19
Glutamine is considered one of the most important nutrients for supporting the integrity of the gut. 20 It’s also the most abundant amino acid and is found in every part of the body. Research suggests the body needs this nutrient to help tighten intestinal junctions, so undigested food particles aren’t able to escape from the small intestine to find their way into the bloodstream. “Leaky gut,” as it’s known, can lead to gas, bloating, irregularity, and fatigue.
L-glutamine is typically a powdered supplement that can be mixed into beverages to help support gut health. 21 Again, it’s important not to overdo it as high amounts of glutamine may lead to constipation, nausea, stomach pain, and other side effects.
Natural Ways to Beat the Bloat
Searching for the best supplements for bloating isn’t the only solution. To help prevent bloating, the following lifestyle changes may also help:
- Reduce the consumption of air-filled carbonated drinks like sodas and seltzers
- Skip the straw, so you don’t swallow air as you drink
- Stop chewing gum if it’s leading to swallowing air as well
- Slow down as you eat and fully chew your food
- If you’re eating more fiber (as recommended), which can decrease bloating over time, slowly increase consumption, especially for foods known to lead to more gas like cabbage and beans
- Eliminate consumption of high FODMAP foods, slowly reintegrating them one by one to see which ones lead to discomfort
- Reduce consumption of salty, ultra-processed foods
- Add some yoga moves that help support digestion, including twists, bow pose, camel pose, and legs-up-the-wall pose
- Stay more active in general as moving the body regularly helps everything flow better.
Bloating may still happen, but the lifestyle changes and supplements available can help make it much less often for shorter amounts of time, so you aren’t feeling like you’re going to pop that top button!