Bloating is a common issue that can make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. It’s usually caused by gas or fluid buildup in your gastrointestinal tract, leading to a swollen belly and abdominal discomfort. While bloating may be triggered by certain foods, the beverages you drink can also play a big role. The good news is that some drinks are better than others when it comes to beating the bloat. Here’s an overview of the best and worst beverages for bloating, as well as some tips to incorporate more bloat-busting drinks into your diet.
Water is hands down the best drink for beating bloat. It doesn’t contain any sweeteners, sodium, gas-producing carbonation, or potential allergens. Drinking plenty of water prevents dehydration, which can leave you feeling bloated as your body retains water. Aim for around eight 8-ounce glasses per day, and more if you are exercising vigorously or sweating heavily. Drink water between meals rather than with meals to prevent an overly full feeling. Some people also find that lukewarm or warm water is gentler on the stomach. Add lemon, lime, cucumber or mint to make your water tastier and get some extra nutrients.
Green tea is an anti-inflammatory beverage that contains antioxidants and catechins that may help beat bloat in several ways. The catechins in green tea may help reduce intestinal gas by inhibiting some of the enzymes that can lead to bloating discomfort. Green tea also acts as a natural diuretic, meaning it increases urine output. This helps flush out excess water and salt from your system. Studies suggest green tea may improve constipation by enhancing colon motility as well. Brew a few cups per day and sip slowly to let the catechins really infuse.
Peppermint tea is a classic home remedy for indigestion and bloating. The menthol in peppermint provides a soothing, cooling sensation and relaxes gastrointestinal muscles to help dispel gas. Peppermint also seems to have antimicrobial and bile-stimulating actions that support healthy digestion. Sip on a warm cup of peppermint tea after meals or whenever you feel gassy. You can sweeten it lightly with honey if desired.
Another excellent option is fresh ginger tea. Gingerol, the main bioactive compound in ginger, has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-nausea and gut-soothing effects. Studies show ginger can speed up gastric emptying, encourage bowel movements, and inhibit intestinal spasms and bloat-causing bacteria like Helicobacter pylori. Steep sliced ginger root in hot water for 10 minutes, then strain out the ginger pieces and add honey to taste if desired. Drink ginger tea when you feel bloated or have tummy troubles.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that contains gut-friendly probiotics along with polyphenols and organic acids. The probiotics may improve digestion and prevent uncomfortable gas and bloating by balancing your gut microbiome. However, some brands of kombucha are very high in sugar and carbonation, which could make bloating worse. Stick to homemade kombucha or low-sugar commercial brands. Start with just 4-8 oz per day to see how your body tolerates it.
Drinking warm or room-temperature lemon water, especially first thing in the morning, may help stimulate digestion and relieve bloating in a few ways. The citric acid in lemons encourages the production of hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which helps break down food. Lemon also has diuretic effects to flush out sodium and liquids. Plus, the antioxidants in lemon water provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into water and you can add ginger or mint too if desired.
Avoid Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated beverages like soda, sparkling water and beer can make bloating worse because the carbonation leads to gas buildup in the digestive tract. Even if it’s just seltzer water, the fizziness can be problematic. Limit or avoid carbonated drinks including soda, tonic water and other bubbly beverages. Opt for still water with fruit slices or herbal tea instead to quench your thirst without the gas and bloating.
Alcohol is another drinks category to go easy on if bloating is an issue. Alcohol can irritate the stomach lining and cause abdominal pain, nausea, reflux and diarrhea. It may also contribute to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Additionally, alcoholic beverages tend to be carbonated or mixers like tonic, soda and juice, which worsen bloating too. Have no more than one alcoholic drink per day, if any, and avoid beer since it contains yeast that can cause bloating.
Avoid Large Amounts of Caffeine
Caffeine is a double-edged sword when it comes to bloating. In small amounts, coffee can ward off bloating by stimulating gastric emptying and bowel movements. However, more than 2-3 cups of coffee daily may provoke GI issues due to coffee’s acidic nature and stimulation of gastric acid secretion. Caffeine can also exacerbate anxiety, disrupting your digestive system. Have just one or two cups of coffee, green tea or matcha tea per day and see if that agrees with your tummy.
Steer Clear of Sugar-Sweetened Drinks
Beverages like juice, soda, sweetened iced tea and sports drinks are loaded with simple sugars like high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. These sugars feed gas-producing gut bacteria, potentially causing bloating, pain and diarrhea. The high fructose content can also slow digestion and cause water retention. Avoid sugary drinks and stick to water with lemon or herbal teas instead. If you do drink juice, limit to a small glass diluted with water.
Some Milk Alternatives
Dairy milk can cause bloating for those with lactose intolerance or cow milk protein allergy. Fortunately, some milk alternatives like unsweetened coconut, oat, soy or almond milk can provide creamy flavor in coffee and recipes without the dairy and bloating issues. However, a number of plant milks including soy, pea and nut milks also contain insoluble fibers and proteins that could worsen gas. Try lactose-free milk or stick to low-FODMAP nut milks like hemp and flax milk.
Other Tips for Beating Bloat
In addition to choosing the right beverages, here are some other quick tips to help beat the bloat:
– Avoid drinking through a straw which can cause you to swallow more air potentially increasing bloating and gas pains.
– Don’t gulp drinks. Sip slowly and steadily when drinking to prevent swallowing excess air.
– Drink most of your fluids between meals rather than with meals.
– Avoid frozen or ice-cold beverages which can stimulate GI contractions.
– Manage stress through yoga, meditation, massage and other relaxing activities that calm your nervous system and help your body digest and de-bloat more efficiently.
– Take a walk after eating to stimulate digestion and relieve gas buildup.
– Get enough sleep since fatigue disrupts digestion and the gut microbiome balance.
– Eat probiotic foods like kombucha, kimchi and kefir to boost beneficial bacteria.
– Limit high FODMAP foods that commonly cause bloating like beans, cruciferous veggies, onions and wheat.
Sample Bloat-Busting Daily Meal Plan
Here is a sample day of eating incorporating the bloat-busting beverages and tips mentioned above:
|7 AM||Warm lemon water|
|8 AM||Oatmeal made with lactose-free milk, topped with berries and almonds|
|10 AM||Green tea|
|12 PM||Turkey sandwich on gluten-free bread with lettuce, tomato and avocado + baby carrots|
|3 PM||Small glass of kombucha|
|6 PM||Grilled salmon with quinoa and roasted broccoli|
|8 PM||Ginger tea|
The Bottom Line
Bloating can be an uncomfortable and frustrating problem influenced heavily by what you choose to drink. Stick with non-carbonated, unsweetened beverages like water, herbal tea, and low-FODMAP milks. Avoid sugary drinks, excessive alcohol and carbonation which can worsen bloating. Incorporate bloat-beating beverages like lemon water, mint tea and ginger tea as much as possible throughout your day. Pair your bloat-busting drinks with healthy meals and practices that support good digestion. With some modifications to your beverage choices and diet, you can minimize that bloated belly feeling and feel healthier and more comfortable overall.