7 Supplements for Bloating That Will Help You Beat the Bloat
Is there a swifter way to ruin your day than a bad bout of bloat? Best-case scenario, it has you walking around wondering why it feels like the button is about to pop off of the jeans that fit you an hour ago. Worst case, it leaves you lying on the sofa, clutching your stomach and asking why the universe is trying to kill you. While there are all kinds of hacks for avoiding belly bloat altogether—like steering clear of salt, carbonation, and fatty, spicy, and acidic foods—one possible solution is taking supplements that can help with bloating.
Before jumping right to a supplement, however, try and attempt to identify the root cause, says Dr. Jeff Gladd, chief medical officer at Fullscript, and an integrative medicine physician. "Often, working with a provider versed in integrative medicine can help you in this journey and build a plan for short- and long-term success. The focus areas to consider are your digestive function (both the food breakdown as well as the movement), your diet, and the balance of the good and potentially problematic bacteria that reside in the digestive tract," he says.
What to look for in a supplement for bloating
Dr. Jonathan Kung, MD, gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai and medical advisor to microbiome company Nouri, says keeping the billions of bacteria that live in your gut within a healthy equilibrium is crucial to overall health and helps keep bloating at bay. "Pre-, pro- and post-biotics are all important for maintaining a balanced gut. You should look for supplements that contain clinically-proven strains of bacteria that support gut health and have at least 10 billion CFU," he says.
You should also look for a supplement that's third-party tested, says Holly Klamer, a registered dietitian nutritionist and dietitian with USARX. "On the label it will say if it is tested from sources such as NSF International, Consumer Lab, or U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)." Additionally, before taking a supplement, check with your doctor first, especially if you're on any medication, Klamer advises. "Even if a supplement is natural, it can interfere with other medications."
Should you take a supplement for bloating before or after you eat?
"Prevention is the key to combating bloating, and evidence shows that certain supplement ingredients may help ward off uncomfortable gas and bloating, particularly when taken before a meal," says Dr. Gladd. Taking a digestive enzyme supplement prior to a meal may prevent gas and bloating by helping your digestive tract break down the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the foods you eat, he says.
Whether your bloat is brought to you by a salty food fest, a hangover, or a particularly greasy post-bootcamp breakfast, here are seven supplements that will help you banish bloat.
Best supplements for bloating
Priobiotics (which have a zillion other helpful health properties) are really the OG gut-health supplement. "Good living bacteria aid digestive health by regulating and normalizing bowel movements,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, a New York City-based registered dietician and author of the The F-Factor Diet. You can find these “friendly bacteria” in fermented foods like miso, kimchi, or yogurt. If sauerkraut isn't exactly your jam, look for a supplement that includes a living bacteria called Lactobacillus acidophilus, which you can find in powder, capsule, or tablet form. Just make sure you store them in a cool environment, because the whole idea is that these babies need to be alive to work (it’s not as gross as it sounds, I promise).
2. Lactase enzyme
Bad news, ice cream fiends: The majority of people lose their full ability to digest lactose after infancy, which makes eating dairy products (yes, even Halo Top) a pretty tough business. “[People who are lactose intolerant] are missing the crucial enzyme, lactase, needed to break down the sugar, lactose, found in dairy products,” says Zuckerbrot. And that leads to bloating.
Instead of canceling your standing wine-and-cheese date with your bestie, click *add to cart* on some lactase enzyme supplements instead. Take them before you eat and they’ll help fill in for what your body is missing, making dairy digestion easier on your system.
If you've ever hit up a street meat cart after a night spent downing tequila gimlets (hey, we've all been there), you know what it feels like when that greasy gyro comes back to bite you in the stomach a few hours later. "Fat digests slowly and can often exacerbate bloating and gas pains,” Zuckerbrot says.
The next time it happens, reach for cinnamon, which may help prevent bloating by helping fats digest more easily. Sadly, you can’t get the same results from downing a full tray of vegan cinnamon buns—but a girl can dream.
Ginger is basically the supplement equivalent of the Headspace app: It helps put your intestines into relaxation mode, allowing food to pass more quickly and speeding up digestion. "Ginger is also considered an appetite suppressant," says Zuckerbrot. "Eating or drinking ginger can prevent you from eating too quickly, which normally causes bloating.” Eating quickly can also cause serious abdominal discomfort, so Zuckerbrot advises taking at least 20 minutes for each meal.
Turns out there's a reason Tums and Pepto-Bismol are mint-flavored. According to Zuckerbrot, taking a peppermint supplement increases the amount of gastric acid in your stomach, which aids in digestion. Just be sure you aren’t getting your peppermint fix via a stick of Stride: Between the sorbitol and the air you swallow, chewing gum can be a major cause of belly bloat.
"Peppermint oil is a naturally-occuring carminative, a type of herb known to prevent and reduce gas formation," adds Dr. Gladd. Peppermint oil also contains L-menthol, a compound that helps relax the smooth muscle of the bowel wall. It can help relieve or prevent gas and bloating when taken about an hour before a meal. However, Dr. Gladd says due to its relaxing effect, peppermint oil may promote the symptoms of esophageal reflux. "I advise my patients to always use enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules to better ensure its effect lower in the digestive tract, where the bloating is often occurring."
6. Dandelion or chamomile
For the wellness-obsessed, the phrase “shake it like a salt shaker” should translate to "shake it very slowly and cautiously or not at all.” According to Zuckerbrot, even though we need some salt in our diet, consuming too much of it can lead to fluid retention and bloating. If you’re experiencing salt-induced swelling, reach for a cup of dandelion or chamomile tea (or either herb in supplement form). Both act as natural diuretics that help eliminate excess water from your system—which means you won’t have to spend your Saturday getting your wedding band resized.
Whether it’s brought about by your La Croix addiction or a chickpea overdose, a gas-bloated stomach is a particular kind of misery. Instead of getting rid of it the old-fashioned way (in what you can only hope is a silent and odorless manner), reach for some fennel. "Fennel has anti-inflammatory properties that relax intestinal muscles and allow trapped gas to dissipate,” says Zuckerbrot. And fennel oil happens to be an A+ way to help you energize your way out of an afternoon slump (without caffeine), so there are multiple reasons to pop a tablet after lunch.
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