Bloating — Causes and Relief

Bloating — Causes and Relief

Do you have a bloating belly or a stubborn “food baby”? When intestinal gas builds up in the gastrointestinal tract, the stomach can appear visibly bloated and large. Additionally, increased passing of gas or wind, colloquially known as farting, rounds up what someone experiences when they have bloating. But what helps with bloating, and how does it occur in the first place? In this article, CARE explains everything you need to know about the cause of bloating and medical-proven remedies against gut bloating.

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE
Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach

Published in General Health
9 min read · Apr 15, 2024

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What Is Bloating?

Bloating, medically known as abdominal distension or meteorism, is when your abdomen appears visibly enlarged and distended due to gas accumulation in the digestive tract. This phenomenon can be uncomfortable and is often accompanied by symptoms such as abdominal pain, flatulence (the frequent release of digestive gases), and a feeling of fullness. [1]

Biologically, a bloated stomach is frequently correlated with the trillions of gut bacteria living in your digestive tract that make up your gut flora, known as the microbiome. The gut flora, a complex community of trillions of microorganisms in the digestive tract, is essential for digestion and nutrient absorption. [2]

Certain food components that are not fully broken down in the upper digestive tract enter the large intestine, where they are fermented by beneficial intestinal bacteria. This fermentation produces gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane — common causes of abdominal bloating and flatulence. The composition of intestinal gases and the volume they occupy can vary depending on your diet and the balance and health of your gut microbiome.

Therefore, a healthy gut flora balance is crucial to regulate the amount of naturally produced gases and prevent bloating. A disturbed microbiome can lead to excessive gas production and too much air in the intestines, leading to unwelcome bloating.

What Are the Symptoms of Bloating?

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Bloating can cause various symptoms that can affect you physically and mentally. The symptoms can occur individually or in combination and vary in intensity. They can be intermittent or chronic.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of bloating: [1]

Visible Abdominal Swelling

Your abdomen appears larger than usual and feels tense, caused by the build-up of gas in the intestines, which presses against the intestinal wall and expands your belly. You may even see your well-trained abdominal muscles despite a bloated belly.

Feeling of Fullness

You may feel overly full even if you have only eaten a little or as usual. This feeling of fullness can last a long time and be very uncomfortable.

Abdominal Pain and Cramps

The accumulation of gas can lead to recurring or persistent pain in the abdomen, which is often cramp-like.

Belching and Flatulence

Frequent belching and passing wind are typical symptoms of bloating, which occurs when your body tries to eliminate the accumulated gases from your intestinal tract to release tension.

Irregular Bowel Movements

People with bloating frequently experience changes in bowel movements, including constipation or, conversely, diarrhea.

Fatigue and General Discomfort

The discomfort and pain associated with bloating can lead to fatigue and malaise.

What Are the Causes of Bloating?

There are many possible root causes of bloating that can end up “inflating” your abdomen. The spectrum of potential causes of a bloated belly is broad, from certain foods to gastrointestinal illnesses and psychological stress.

Below, CARE has summarized common causes of bloating: [1] [2] [3]

Eating Habits:

Bloating Foods

Certain foods like pulses, cabbage, and onions can cause bloating. These foods contain complex sugars and fibers that get fermented by bacteria in the large intestine. This fermentation process produces gases such as hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide, accumulating and leading to bloating.

Carbonated Drinks

Drinking carbonated liquids causes gas to go directly into your stomach, which can lead to abdominal distension.

Eating Behavior:

Swallowing Air (Aerophagia)

When you eat or drink quickly or chew gum, you can unconsciously air swallow air, accumulating in the digestive tract and leading to bloating.

Irregular or Big Meals

Sporadic eating and eating too large meals can disrupt the digestive process, leading to inefficient digestion, gas formation, and bloating.

Food Intolerances:

Lactose Intolerance, Fructose Intolerance, Gluten Intolerance

When you have intolerances to lactose, fructose, or gluten, your body lacks specific enzymes to break down these molecules. The undigested particles then get fermented in the large intestine, which leads to gas formation and bloating.

Sorbitol Intolerance

Sorbitol intolerance is when your body has difficulty digesting sorbitol, a sugar alcohol found in many dietary products, sugar-free foods, and certain fruits. Incomplete digestion of sorbitol can lead to symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, as sorbitol forms gases in the intestines and has an osmotic effect, which leads to increased water retention in the intestines.

Digestive Disorders & Diseases of the Gastrointestinal Tract:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

In IBS, the movement of the bowel is disturbed, leading to slowed or irregular digestion and, thus, an accumulation of gas. [4]


Delays in the frequency of bowel movements lead to food residues lingering longer in the large intestine and more gas being produced. A high-fiber diet without sufficient fluid intake can also lead to bloating and constipation.

Bacterial Overgrowth in the Small Intestine (SIBO)

An excessive number of bacteria in the small intestine can lead to premature food fermentation, resulting in increased gas production. People with SIBO often have consistent bloating and struggle with this condition. [4]

Coeliac Disease

Coeliac/Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the consumption of gluten leads to inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine. People with celiac disease often experience digestive symptoms, including bloating, as the damaged intestinal wall cannot properly digest and absorb food. To avoid bloating, it is essential for people with celiac disease to follow a strict gluten-free diet. [5]

Psychological Factors:

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can interfere with the normal movements of the digestive tract (by affecting the nervous system), leading to inefficient gas release and impaired digestion. [6]

Lifestyle Factors:

Lack of Physical Activity

A lack of exercise can slow down your intestinal activity and make the intestines sluggish, which can also result in an accumulation of gas and, consequently, bloating.

What Can You Do About Bloating?

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How can you get rid of bloating and “deflate,” so to speak? CARE has summarized methods and strategies to help you tackle the cause of your bloating and get on the “road to release.”

Keep a Food and Symptom Diary

To identify the cause of bloating, it is helpful to keep a food and symptom diary. In this diary, you should write down exactly what you eat and drink and how you feel afterward. Pay attention to patterns that indicate specific symptoms, such as passing gas, bloating, diarrhea or abdominal pain, after eating specific foods. It can also be helpful to eliminate certain foods from your diet temporarily and observe whether your symptoms improve.

Our nutrition coaches will be happy to help you evaluate your diary. Contact us now to get rid of your bloating and identify its causes.

Use Medical Test Procedures

Medical tests can confirm intolerances to lactose or fructose. If your symptoms persist, it is advisable to consult a doctor, who may order further examinations such as ultrasound or specific blood tests to rule out other medical causes and make an accurate diagnosis.

The regular blood tests and health checks at CARE can also provide detailed information about your current state of health and potential health gaps. Book your free consultation now.

Home Remedies and Foods That Reduce Bloating

Certain foods, home remedies, and beverages can help you reduce bloating. Incorporate the following foods into your everyday diet to keep your bloating at bay.

Here is a list of home remedies and foods that reduce bloating: [7]

  • Fennel: The seeds of this medicinal plant contain anethole, which has an antispasmodic effect and can reduce gas formation in the digestive tract. Fennel can be used as a tea or as a spice in meals.

  • Ginger: Ginger promotes digestion and helps to soothe the intestines. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and can relieve cramps and help with passing the accumulated gas.

  • Peppermint: Peppermint tea has a calming effect on the muscles of the digestive tract and can help to relieve the symptoms of bloating. The menthol it contains relaxes your intestinal muscles.

  • Caraway: Like fennel, caraway contains compounds that help reduce gas buildup and aid digestion. Caraway can be used in dishes or drunk as a tea.

  • Chamomile: Chamomile tea is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to soothe the digestive system, which can help relieve bloating.

  • Warm drinks: Warm water or teas can aid digestion and help move digestive gases through the digestive tract more quickly.

  • Anise: Anise is a spice derived from the seeds of the anise plant. It is known for its sweet, licorice-like flavor. As an antispasmodic and gas-reducing agent, it is traditionally used in folk medicine to relieve digestive problems such as bloating and cramps.

  • Probiotics: Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when taken in appropriate amounts, can provide health benefits, especially for the digestive system. They help to promote the balance of intestinal flora and, when taken regularly, can help to reduce symptoms such as bloating by improving digestion and reducing inflammatory processes in the intestines. [8]

Hot Water Bottle

A hot water bottle can effectively relieve bloating by relaxing the muscles of your digestive tract, thus facilitating gas movement in the intestines. The pleasant warmth can also reduce cramp-like pain and improve your general well-being, which is particularly helpful for digestive complaints.

Eat Small Meals

Eating meals with small or adequate portions at specific times can improve digestion and reduce bloating by putting less strain on the gastrointestinal tract. This way, you can counteract bloating.

Abdominal Massage

A gentle abdominal massage can help relieve bloating. The massage stimulates intestinal activity, accelerating the passage of gases through the digestive tract. How should you massage your abdomen? Circular movements in a clockwise direction around the navel support the natural movement of the intestines and relieve tension in the abdominal region.

How Can I Prevent Bloating?

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There are several practical measures that you can integrate into your everyday life to prevent bloating directly: [1] [3] [6] [7]

  • Eat slowly and chew well: You take in less air by eating slowly and chewing thoroughly, which can reduce gas formation. It also improves digestion and nutrient absorption.

  • Balanced diet: A diet rich in fiber can help regulate digestion. However, increase your fiber intake slowly to avoid overloading your body, and always drink enough.

  • Avoid bloating foods: Reduce your intake of foods known to cause bloating, such as onions, beans, and cabbage.

  • Exercise regularly: Physical activity stimulates your bowel movements and can help move gas through the digestive tract faster.

  • Sufficient fluids: Drink enough water to support your digestion and avoid constipation. Mineral still water and non-carbonated drinks are preferable. Carbonated drinks transport additional gas into your stomach and can cause bloating.

  • Avoid chewing gum and hard candy: chewing hard candy or gum can cause you to (unconsciously) swallow air, which can lead to bloating.

  • Stress management: Stress can affect your digestion and lead to bloating. Techniques such as meditation, yoga, or regular relaxation exercises can help you to reduce your stress.

When Should I See a Doctor for Bloating?

Suppose your bloating is persistent, worsening, or accompanied by other symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, persistent constipation or diarrhea, weight loss, or blood in your stool. In that case, you should consult a doctor.

A doctor can determine the exact cause of your bloating and recommend suitable treatment.

CARE cares

Your health matters to us. If you want to improve your mental and physical health, fitness, and diet and achieve better sleep, a Health Check with CARE is the first ideal step to achieving these goals!

We help you unlock your full health potential by making informed decisions based on your personal health data.

Did you know that we can even create a personalized nutritional supplement for you? Your blood analysis enables you and our health experts to identify how and where you can further optimize your health and take it to the next level.

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Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE

Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach at CARE Zurich

About the author

Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!