At any time, a human has an average of 100 to 200cc of gas within their gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This volume increases in the postprandial period, or the period of time after consuming a meal.
Meals containing lactose, fructose, sorbitol, legumes, and complex carbohydrates can cause bloating because these foods are not fully digested in the large intestine and must move on to be broken down in the colon, where postprandial gas usually accumulates.1 Does this mean we should avoid fiber-rich foods like beans, cruciferous vegetables, and other complex carbohydrates? Of course not! Here are some science- backed tips to beat the bloat without banishing the beans.
Peppermint oil has been shown to relieve bloating and stomach cramping in a way similar to a class of drugs called antispasmodics.2 A 2015 study3 published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences examined the effects of peppermint oil on patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that results in frequent bloating and excess gas. The four-week study showed promising results with a reduction of symptoms in the participants taking peppermint oil compared to the participants given a placebo. In addition, an article published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology in 2014 reviewed nine studies on peppermint oil and concluded it to be a safe and effective treatment for discomfort caused by excess gas.4 According to American Family Physician, most studies use 0.2 to 0.4mL of peppermint oil in enteric coated capsules5; such capsules can be purchased over-the-counter from supplement brands like NOW® Foods. Proceed with caution when supplementing; peppermint oil can be toxic if more than the recommended dose is ingested and it is not recommended for young children and pregnant or nursing women. For a simpler alternative to oil, peppermint can also be consumed as an inexpensive tea, available in most grocery stores.
A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology took eight participants and infused their stomachs with a “gas mixture.” The participants then partook in either light exercise or no exercise. The researchers measured far greater “gas evacuation” in the exercising participants than in the participants who were asked to rest.6 So if you’re feeling bloated after a big meal, try taking a 10-minute brisk walk, preferably outside or in a well-ventilated area, for optimal “gas evacuation.”
PROBIOTIC FOODS AND SUPPLEMENTS
Probiotics are live microorganisms that greatly benefit the state of our gut microbiome. Those who frequently struggle with bloating might benefit from probiotic supplements, or even better, foods with naturally occurring probiotics, to balance their gut microbiota and decrease the frequency of bloating. Researchers in charge 6 of a prospective study from 2011 observed improvements in bloating in patients using the probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis. Authors of another study7 conducted in 2005 saw a promising reduction of bloating in patients treated with the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis. Probiotics can be found naturally in yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso.