Bloating can not only be uncomfortable but embarrassing too. It can make your clothes ill-fitting, mess up your meal plans, and cause gassiness. It can affect anyone, but it’s often far worse (and far more frequent) for women. The reasons are simply biological. To retain more water during pregnancy and facilitate other functions, women have a much longer colon, which means it runs into more problems during digestion, menstruation, and everything else. It’s a perfect recipe for a bloating problem.

However, even though bloating seems inevitable, you can use natural remedies to prevent it from occurring and even reduce the bloating you already have. If you’re a woman whose busy week gets waylaid by digestion and bloating issues, it may seem biologically unfair. But these 7 natural remedies can help even the score.


1.   Probiotics

Probiotics encourage your gut to produce healthy bacteria that help you absorb nutrients. They also stop cultures of bad bacteria from forming in your intestines, which is a huge cause of bloating. This means that a plant-based, natural source of probiotics is your best soldier on the frontlines of bloat prevention.

Dietary probiotic sources include sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. You could also go the dairy route and try kefir and Greek yogurt, though your stomach may not take well to dairy in this instance. Stick to the plant-based alternatives.


2.   Hydrate

Hydrating can improve your digestion and the speed with which you absorb nutrients. If you know you’ve had excess salt lately or you haven’t been drinking enough, proper hydration can flush you out, reduce face-swelling and bloating, and make you feel better. Try the water warm with a little lemon for extra benefits.


3.   Fennel

Fennel is a natural bloat-blaster, even in raw seed form. You can cook with fennel seeds or even eat them raw as a snack, which can help with bloating particularly when it’s caused by cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts. However, an easy and more palatable choice might be fennel teas, which you can steep yourself or buy in the store.


4.   Cut Back on Coffee

I know, I know. Your busy week is a train and coffee is the coal and if the steam runs out, the whole thing grinds to a halt. But caffeinated coffee is not only a mild diuretic, meaning it takes water out of you, but it’s also a gastrointestinal irritant. It has a natural propensity for causing bloating.

Since most of us aren’t going to drop coffee cold turkey, one thing you can do besides simply limit your number of cups in the morning is to reduce the additives you use. Less cream and sugar can help reduce the irritation on your bowels.


5.   Ginger

Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory that my grandma often sliced up and made us chew to treat an upset stomach. Turns out, she was on to something, since a homemade ginger and lemon tea does wonders for a bloated belly. If you can stomach the spiciness, you can even chew on slices of ginger like I used to for the same effect.


6.   Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies like acupuncture and yoga help relax bodily systems and reduce inflammation. This includes battling bloating at the source. The right acupuncturist can soothe a troubled stomach and calm irritable bowels. The right yoga poses (try Downward Facing Dog) can massage your internal organs and improve digestion.


7.   Foods to Avoid

In addition to supplements and other therapies, you can prevent bloating simply by avoiding certain foods. We already mentioned coffee. Here’s a short list of foods that can cause bloating problems through GI tract irritation and other digestive troubles:

  • Beans are high in fiber but are difficult for your body to break down and digest due to oligosaccharides, which are carbs that are hard to digest. Alternatives like lentils or fewer beans in your diet can help prevent them from causing bloating.
  • Dairy contains lactates, which require enzymes to break down in our stomachs, a process which inevitably causes a bit of bloating.
  • Fried foods may be delicious, but your digestive system won’t thank you for overdoing it on them. In addition to causing constipation and diarrhea, fried foods can cause bloating by slowing your digestion.
  • Onions add flavor to a ton of recipes but they’re also a major culprit of bloating. They contain a breed of short-chain carbohydrates that our bodies have trouble properly absorbing, which can cause bloating.
  • Alcohol, especially carbonated beverages like beer, can make your stomach swell. Small sips of water or tea during your meal rather than carbonated beer can help mitigate the problem.
  • Whole grains, which contain gluten, can cause bloating depending on your tolerance. Pasta and bread that contains gluten can be difficult for some of us to digest.
  • Sugary foods cannot be absorbed by your stomach so watch for sugary additives if you’re worried about bloating. Common additives like sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol are well-known culprits of bloating.

The Takeaway

Bloating can strike anyone, but it’s bound to affect you when you want it least. If you’re tired of struggling with your work clothes, cramping, and feeling icky, you can take these 7 natural remedies to heart as simple, cheap, and low-risk ways to fight bloating at the source.

Like most bodily problems, bloating comes from inflammation in a key system (the digestive tract, in this case). Removing irritants and adding substances that encourage healthy bacteria growth and more efficient digestion can get you past a bout of bloating and back on your feet.