The term “bloating” currently has more than 195 million views on TikTok. Most of these videos begin the same way — with a woman lamenting that her stomach is not as flat as she'd like. And oftentimes, these videos come with a “cure” of sorts — a quick, fast way to “debloat” and regain that coveted flat stomach.
Of course, despite what today’s beauty standards tell us, few people actually have a perfectly flat stomach. (Remember, we have organs that can’t be displaced.) And bloating can be more than just an aesthetics issue: For many, excessive bloating comes along with discomfort and gastrointestinal issues.
“The technical definition of bloating would be ‘abdominal distension,'” Marissa Meshulam, registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of MPM Nutrition, tells Yahoo Life. “Your stomach is meant to expand throughout the day as you eat more and more food. It is totally natural for your stomach to feel ‘flat’ in the morning and bigger as the day progresses. What is not normal, and can usually be a sign of something else going on, is if your stomach is extremely distended to the point you look pregnant and feels very hard to the touch.”
Medical causes can range from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to gynecological issues, however, things that can exasperate uncomfortable bloating in an otherwise healthy gut include drinking carbonated beverages, eating very fast, swallowing before chewing, constipation, chewing gum, sugar alcohols and a lack of fiber in your diet.
The fact that bloating is more often than not a natural body process hasn’t stopped social media from seeking remedies to combat it. One way making the rounds on TikTok is a combination of baking soda and water — not exactly a pleasant tasting cure, but, according to Meshulam, one potentially worth trying.
“It can work,” she explains. “Baking soda neutralizes stomach acid, so it can help with some stomach upset, similarly to Tums.”
Dr. Nicole Avena, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and author of Why Diets Fail, adds the caveat that “baking soda should be used sparingly.”
“It’s not toxic, but too much can upset the stomach and throw off your body’s pH balance,” she says. “It’s a temporary fix. It will work for occasional bloating, but more chronic issues should be examined by a medical professional.”
Celery juice, which contains folate, potassium and antioxidants — and has been shown to help calm inflammation — is another remedy popularized on TikTok. (Maybe you’ve seen videos of people throwing bunch after bunch of celery into a juicer, to deep green results.) Research into how well it works is limited, says Dr. Avena, but it may be worth trying.
“Celery juice is high in sodium and can help those with low stomach acid who experience digestive issues as a result. It’s also a diuretic which can get rid of bloating that comes from constipation,” she explains. “It is important to note that most of the buzz around celery juice is anecdotal and comes from people who have had positive personal experiences with the juice.”
So what does work, if bloating is caused by a temporary gastrointestinal issue?
“Peppermint oil can be used to ease stomach discomfort in IBS,” Meshulem says. “Chamomile tea can work to rid excess gas and ease bloating symptoms.”
Dandelion is a “natural diuretic,” she adds, so drinking tea made from the plant or eating the leaves in a salad may also help. She recommends apple cider vinegar too, which “can also help with digestion.”
Yet some people have taken a different approach to working out their bloating issues. Stars like Hailey Baldwin, Elsa Hosk, Kelsey Merritt and Shay Mitchell swear by lymphatic drainage massages to cut water weight and nip bloating in the bud.
“Many environmental factors can upset the balance of the lymphatic system and result in bloating and discomfort,” Dr. Avena explains to Yahoo Life. “Lymphatic drainage can help relieve this discomfort. It is generally a safe practice and can be done at home using light massage. Just make sure to be gentle when you try this technique or consult a massage expert.”
Meshulam adds that while it’s worth a try, it’s a “short term vs. preventing long term bloat” situation. “Gentle digestive yoga poses do a similar thing in a less aggressive fashion,” she says.
The bottom line, though? Typically, bloating is no big deal, but if you’re uncomfortable, it can usually be calmed with a few simple, natural methods. Should bloating become chronic or painful, however, it’s time to see a doctor — and not try to cure it with remedies found on social media.
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