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10 Proven Ways to Reduce or Stop Bloating

At best, bloating means you’ll need to save your favorite jeans for another day. At worst, the tightness in your belly can feel intensely painful and last for days on end. While bloating is technically classified as a digestive issue, there are numerous possible culprits behind your tight, puffy stomach.

Some of these originate in your GI tract, such as the inability to digest foods completely, an imbalanced microbiome, or the presence of too much air in your digestive system. But others, such as hidden hormone imbalances, increased stress levels, or a sedentary lifestyle may begin far from your gut before manifesting as bloat.

Dealing with a tight, bloated middle day after day can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Here are 10 ways to identify the cause of your bloating and get rid of it for good.

Drink More Water

When you’re bloated, it often feels like your stomach is so full that you couldn’t put anything more in. Besides, if water retention is behind your bloating, why would you want to drink more of it?

While it may seem counterintuitive, the more water you drink, the smoother your digestion will be. In short, your body needs water to move food through the GI tract. As food moves through the small intestine, water is transported from your bloodstream into your GI tract to help break it down so your body can more easily absorb the nutrients. Then in the large intestine water moves back out into the bloodstream so that what remains can become a healthy stool. Water also plays a key role in preventing constipation, which can contribute to bloating. Aim to drink at least six cups (or 1.5 liters) every day.

Take a Probiotic

There are millions of bacteria living in your gut, influencing everything from digestion to immunity, weight, mood, and more. When your microbiome is properly balanced, meaning there are more healthy, supportive bacteria than health-hindering bugs, all these processes run smoothly. But when the bad bacteria start to grow in numbers they can cause a host of problems, digestive woes like bloating among them.

Probiotic supplements, which deliver a dose of beneficial bacteria, help keep balance in your gut tipped in favor of the good guys, reducing inflammation and limiting the production of gas that causes bloating.

Consider Your Sex Hormones

Estrogen and progesterone may primarily be sex hormones, but they play numerous roles in the body---including impacting the efficiency of your digestive system. For women, high estrogen levels, which occur in the middle of the menstrual cycle (peaking at ovulation), increase water retention, contributing to bloat. When progesterone is high in the second half of the menstrual cycle it slows down the movement of food through your GI tract, also contributing to bloating. And for women going through perimenopause and menopause, fluctuations in levels of these two hormones can trigger both bloat-inducing mechanisms at the same time.