We all know the feeling. You feel sluggish and uncomfortable, and your clothes feel tight around the middle.
Perhaps it’s something you ate – salty, fatty foods are major culprits in causing bloating- or perhaps your diet is lacking in the fibre department and you’re constipated.
Whatever the reason, it’s not an exaggeration to say that bloating can ruin your whole day.
These beverages can help tame a swollen tummy and leave you feeling back to your usual self.
In this article, we’ll talk you through
A bloated stomach is when your gastrointestinal tract or GI, tract is filled with air or gas.
This makes your stomach feel full, tight and may actually appear larger than normal.1
Bloating can have a number of causes, including:
There are a variety of different foods that can cause bloating, including many healthy foods!3These include:
Beans are a great source of protein, fibre and carbohydrates. But they could cause bloating in some people.
While a high fibre content can be good for bloating in some instances, as well as the bloating effects of oligosaccharides, a sugar found in many types of beans, which can be hard for the digestive system to break down.4
Onions are another food that may cause bloating for some people.
This is because, like oligosaccharides, onions contain fructans which are harder for the body to break down.5
While broccoli is a great addition to your diet, unfortunately, it could cause bloating.
This is because it contains raffinose, a type of sugar, that stays undigested in the stomach until the gut bacteria ferments it – which can lead to bloating.6
However this doesn’t mean that it should be cut out completely, as consistently eating veg like this supports a healthier digestive system that is less prone to bloating.7
Likewise, cabbage is another vegetable that contains raffinose so eating it could lead to bloating.
Likewise, sprouts are classed as another cruciferous vegetable that could cause bloating as they also contain raffinose.
You guessed it, cauliflower also contains raffinose which means that this tasty vegetable can also lead to bloating in some instances.
Another type of nutritious food that could lead to bloating are lentils.
These also contain raffinose so could end up leaving you feeling bloated.
However, soaking or spouting the lentils beforehand may help to prevent this.
One of the most popular types of fruit, whether you’re having it as a snack or a supplement to a meal – apples too may, unfortunately, cause bloating.
This is largely due to the sorbitol found in apples, which is a type of sugar alcohol that contributes to gastrointestinal activity that can lead to bloating.8
Some of the most popular culprits for bloating are grains.
Whether it’s wheat, rye or barley – these all contain gluten which can be difficult for people with Coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity to digest.9
There are a number of different drinks that may cause you to bloat. These include:
It might seem obvious – but if you’re regularly drinking fizzy drinks (including diet versions) – it’s a recipe for a bloated tummy.
Carbonated beverages are filled with small gas bubbles, which go straight into your stomach after you take a swig.
This gives you that gassy, bloated feeling that can linger for hours after you’ve finished your drink.
Although it can help you visit the loo, coffee is also known to be a cause of bloating in some people.
The acidic nature of coffee can irritate the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, leading it to produce gas.
Don’t worry too much about your morning cup of coffee, though.
Just don’t overdo it – keep it to one or two cups a day if it bloats you - and try not to drink it on an empty stomach if possible.
It may be just the thing with breakfast, but apple juice can also give you a bloated tummy come mid-morning.
This is because it contains sorbitol – a non-digestible type of sugar that is known to cause gastrointestinal distress in some people.
Sorbitol is also used widely in many ‘sugar-free' products such as chewing gum and artificial sweetener, which is why these products also play havoc with some people’s digestion.
Side-effects of sorbitol can include bloating and gas – so avoid apple juice if you’re after a flat stomach.
Due to it being an inflammatory substance, drinking alcohol may cause swelling in the body.
As well as this, it can upset the gastrointestinal tract which could lead to a bloated stomach as well.10
It is estimated that 68% of the global population has lactose malabsorption.11
This is where people aren’t able to completely digest lactose, commonly found in milk which can present itself through bloating.
Diet drinks often include artificial sweeteners such as sucralose.
It has been found that sucralose can cause IBS symptoms such as bloating.12
Shop bought vegetable juices and canned soups might be marketed as healthy, but this isn’t always the case.
They’re often packed with sodium which is a big offender when it comes to bloating.
While it still isn’t understood why exactly sodium causes bloating, a contributing factor could be that it causes water retention.13
While it can be easier and sometimes fun to drink with a straw – it’s probably not the best idea if you’re prone to bloating.
This is because we tend to swallow more air than normal when using a straw, compared to when we drink without one.
We’ve already discussed how coffee can cause bloating, but what about other forms of caffeine?
If you’re a tea drinker, it’s worth knowing that drinking an excessive amount of tea could also lead to bloating.
This is because it contains tannins, which are antioxidants, but they can cause gas build up.14
So what are some natural remedies for bloating then?
If you’re looking to change your ways so that you can beat the bloat, here are some remedies to consider:
If you’d like to know more about any of the above, check out our guide on 6 easy ways to beat bloating.
We’ve gone through the foods and drinks that cause bloating, but now it’s time to discuss the opposite! Are there any foods and drinks that can actually reduce bloating?
Thankfully there is, and we’ve listed 19 of them below.
Since cucumbers are 95% water15 this makes them a great food for reducing bloating.
This is because it could prevent water retention and help with bloating that’s caused by dehydration.16,17
This super nutritious fruit is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.
As well as this, avocados are a great source of potassium, which is a key mineral in balancing body fluids and sodium levels and therefore reduce water retention.18
Berries are one of the healthiest snacks to add to your diet, but they can also help with your bloating!
As lots of berries come with a healthy dose of fibre, this can support your gut health and soften stools which can prevent stomach bloating.19
Whether for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack, yoghurts have been a staple part of the western diet for many years now.
But the probiotics in them can also have a positive impact on bloating and abdominal distension.20,21
Like cucumbers, celery is also 95% water, making them a great food to reduce bloating.
As well as being a great source of fibre, bananas are also packed with potassium which as stated previously is essential for regulating fluid and sodium levels which can impact bloating.
Another great food for helping with bloating is asparagus.
Packed with both fibre and inulin, the latter of which is said to support gut health and increase the frequency of bowel movements which could prevent bloating.22
Looking for a gluten-free alternative to grains that cause bloating?
Look no further than quinoa. Full of goodness like fibre, protein and antioxidants which combat bloating.23
And there are even more drinks that could help with bloating...
While not the most exciting beverage out there, water is the original and possibly the best when it comes to our health.
Drinking plenty of water each day (6 – 8 glasses according to the NHS – that’s about 1.2 litres) allows our bodies to eliminate waste properly and keep our digestive systems running smoothly.
This, in turn, minimises constipation and bloating.
Now, we’re not suggesting you swig this neat (that’d be bad for your teeth!) but apple cider vinegar might be the key to ease chronic bloating.
Too much bad bacteria in your gut produces excess gas, which causes a bloated stomach.
Apple cider vinegar contains a probiotic, which adds a dose of good bacteria and helps balance the bacteria in your gut.
Add a tablespoon to a cup of warm water (this is the most palatable way to drink it) and sip before and after a meal.
Drinking lemon water has many different health benefits, but it can also prevent bloating by loosening toxins in the gut.24
We’ve mentioned about how a high water content and level of potassium can help with bloating – and a watermelon smoothie contains both!
This makes it a great drink for bloating.
Pineapples contain bromelain enzyme which is said to reduce inflammation and stimulate the digestive system which may help to reduce bloating.25
Made from either fermented black tea or green tea, kombucha is rich in probiotics which can really help with gut health and therefore bloating.26
Coconut water is a beverage that is high in potassium as well as electrolytes, which helps to regulate fluid levels in our body, making it a great drink for reducing bloating.
There are even some teas that may help!
The polyphenolic compounds in green tea hold antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making green tea the ideal choice for beating the bloat.
For centuries, people in Asia and the Middle East have sipped mint tea with a meal to help digestion based on traditional use.
It also comes with serious scientific backing – peppermint has been shown to relax gastrointestinal tissues27 and help relieve the symptoms of indigestion28, both of which can help prevent bloating.
Considered a digestive aid for many years, fennel tea can be made from crushing fennel seeds or it can be bought from health shops.
What makes it so great for our stomachs is that it is fibre rich and has microbial properties that can get rid of bacteria that causes gas.29
And finally one of the best teas for bloating issues is ginger tea.
Used for stomach problems throughout history, ginger is said to speed up the emptying of the stomach, help digestive issues, reduce intestinal cramps and bloating.30,31
Green tea helps reduce gas in the digestive tract, making it ideal after a spicy or fatty meal.
Researchers at The University of Hong Kong reported that ‘drinking green tea is the most simple and beneficial way to prevent gastrointestinal disorders’.32
There are various different food sources and drinks that can cause bloating, but thankfully there are many that can alleviate or reduce it too.
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Last updated: 13 June 2022
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.