By Carina Wolff
Ugh, bloating. No matter how well you take care of yourself, it happens. It’s a nuisance, it’s uncomfortable—but you can fight it.
“The causes of bloating can be varied—you might be allergic to something, have gut trouble or even a hormonal imbalance,” says doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist Josh Axe, PhD. “But ultimately, bloating normally happens because you’re having digestive issues.”
Along with avoiding foods that you know trigger bloating (we’re looking at you, beans and fizzy drinks), there are some you can add to your diet that can help fight bloat naturally by improving your digestion. Read on for 6 of Dr. Axe’s top choices.
1. Flax seeds
“Because flax seeds are packed with fiber, they help stool pass through your intestines and can help you naturally treat constipation and digestion,” Axe says. “Flax seeds don’t really have a taste, so you can sneak them into foods without altering the flavor.”
Add it: Blend into smoothies, or sprinkle on oatmeal or salads. Stick to ground flax seeds, as they are easier to digest and contain both types of fiber.
Kefir is a probiotic-rich cultured dairy product that encourages a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. “This helps guard against digestive issues and gastrointestinal diseases,” says Axe.
Add it: “Enjoy a bowl of kefir yogurt with berries for breakfast or have a glass of kefir milk instead of cow’s milk,” he says.
3. Brown rice
Because many people are sensitive to gluten, opting for gluten-free grain varieties such as brown rice can help alleviate bloating.
Add it: “Try baking with brown rice flour, using brown rice pasta products, or making your own rice bowl loaded with protein and veggies,” Axe says.
4. Fennel oil
Fennel has long been used as a remedy for digestive troubles in Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Greek culture, and with its licorice-like scent, this essential oil is a soldier in the war against bloat. “It’ll help keep you going to the bathroom regularly, eliminate gas, and help keep new gases from forming,” Axe says. Although fresh fennel is good for you, too, the oil is more concentrated. It also doesn’t require your body to digest the herb first, leading to faster relief.
Add it: Axe recommends adding 1 to 2 drops of the essential oil to your favorite tea.
“This fermented drink is loaded with the good stuff your digestive system loves, like probiotics, enzymes and amino acids, all of which fight against the free radicals that can wreak havoc with digestion,” Axe says. “Some research suggests it may help to keep candida, or yeast, from growing wild in your gut.”
Add it: Pick up a bottle of this tangy fermented tea at the supermarket or health-food store. Pro tip: Kombucha does contain sugar, as some is required to start the fermentation process—be sure to check labels and select the lowest-sugar brands and flavors you can find.
6. Leafy greens
“These heavy hitters are high in magnesium, which aids digestion by softening stool and drawing water in from the gut,” Axe says. “Plus, they’re full of fiber.”
Add it: Enjoy a side salad with meals or toss a handful of greens into your morning smoothie for all-day relief, Axe suggests.