If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from bloating, then you will know it’s not just discomfort it can cause, but it can severely affect quality of life and self-confidence too. It is one of the most common symptoms that can affect the digestive system, and feeling bloated is not the same for everyone. For some people, feeling bloated is more of a sensation of continual fullness, general discomfort in the stomach or bowel area, or a feeling of tightness like a band around the stomach area. Other people can suffer more physical symptoms with their bloating and can experience swelling and distension of the abdomen, stomach pains and excess flatulence. Whether you suffer some, or all of these symptoms it can lead to miserableness, especially if symptoms are experienced daily. Do not despair however, as there are things that you can do, which can help ease these symptoms.

But first of all let’s discuss what causes bloating. There are many answers to this question and what may be the cause of bloating in one person, may not be the cause in another, so it’s important to try and figure out what an individual’s ‘triggers’ may be, or if there is something more serious that is the underlying cause. The most common causes of bloating include a food intolerance, a sluggish digestive system, constipation and IBS. There are other, more serious conditions where bloating can be a primary symptom too, especially if accompanied by blood in the stool, chronic stomach pain and weight loss, so if this is something that you are experiencing, it is important to consult your GP so this can be investigated further.

There are many specific foods, supplements and herbs, which can help bloated bellies and one of the things that has garnered a lot of interest and popularity in the past two years is probiotics and prebiotics and many foods contain these naturally. Probiotics are ‘good bacteria’ that help the healthy functioning of your digestive system and prebiotics are the ‘food’ for probiotics, so both are essential in the diet for maintaining an effectively functioning digestive system. Natural, cultured yogurt containing ‘live bacteria’ is a good source of probiotics. Onions are a good source of a natural prebiotic called Fructan and goats’ milk also contains high amounts of compounds that act as natural prebiotics. Consuming these will have a positive effect on the good bacteria in your gut and help promote better digestive health and overtime can help reduce bloating symptoms.

Some foods can generally help ease the load on the digestive system. Consuming foods that are known to be easily digestible can be helpful, especially at times when you are feeling most bloated. Salmon is not only healthy and packed full of omega 3 fatty acids, but it is one of the most easily digestible foods there is. Bananas, rice, eggs and avocados are also all easily digested, so can certainly be welcomed by your stomach if bloat or constipation is causing distress. Bananas and avocados are also both high in magnesium, a mineral that is very helpful in constipation as it helps draw water into the bowel and makes stools more passable.

Some foods also contain natural digestive enzymes, which are specific proteins that help break down our food into smaller particles so the body can absorb the nutrients from it . Digestive enzymes are produced naturally by the body and produced in the mouth, stomach, pancreas and small intestine, but in some people these enzymes may not work quite as effectively, or some people can be lacking in them, which itself can be a cause of bloating and other digestive problems. Therefore eating foods that contain good and natural sources of some of these helpful enzymes can be beneficial. So what foods can these be found in?

Pineapple contains the enzyme called Bromelain, which can help breakdown protein and protein based foods. Some research also suggests Bromelain may be helpful in reducing inflammation, including that caused by ulcerative colitis, but more  studies need to be done to confirm this. Papayas contain an enzyme called Papain, which like the enzyme found in pineapple, also helps breakdown protein based foods so can be useful to consume after a meal with a high protein content. Mangos also contain a digestive enzyme called Amylase, which helps break down carbohydrate / starched based foods. It is this type of food that most people tend to struggle with as they can lie ‘heavy’ on the stomach and can certainly be responsible for feelings of fullness and bloating. So reach for a mango after overindulgence of a carb laden meal.

Herbs and spices can also offer relief to bloated bellies and three are especially good: Fennel, cloves and cinnamon. Fennal is known for its anti-flatulent properties, so excellent in reducing gas. Cloves, like fennel, have anti-flatulent properties too and is often thought of as the most effective herbal remedy to reduce bloating and gas, as well as being helpful in alleviating nausea. One reason that cloves are said to be  effective in the the battle of the bloat, is that some research suggests that cloves increase the activity of digestive enzymes. The spice cinnamon is helpful for speeding up a sluggish digestive system, so can help resolve bloating caused by this. All three of these can be consumed in a variety of ways, but one of the easiest ways is by making a digestive friendly tea.

As well as consuming the ‘friendly’ foods above, don’t forget to move, and by move I mean exercise. Walking really benefits digestive health is a great form of exercise to help alleviate bloating as it is good for promoting bowel motility and thus can help relieve that full, bloated feeling.



·       Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties, 2012. International Journal of Food Sciences & nutrition

·       Prebiotics & probiotics: Are they functional foods? 2000. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

·       Origin of gas retention and symptoms in patients with bloating, 2005. Gastroenterology

·       Health promoting properties of common herbs, 1999. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition