Does water help with bloating? Let's set the record straight.

Fizzy or regular? Before or after a meal? Iced or hot? Here's everything we know about hydration as it relates to your gut.

Just like with everything: it depends.

We know that’s probably not what you want to hear but it’s true! The type of water, when you drink it, and how you drink it — all affect how your body is going to react. We don’t have a definitive answer but we do have some tips to help guide you in the right direction.

As odd as it sounds, it’s possible to drink away bloat.

We already know what you’re thinking. If you usually bloat during or after drinking water, how is it that you can get rid of your bloat with more water? It may not make much sense to you now, but we can assure you that it’s possible – it just depends on a few key factors.

More water can reduce your likelihood of bloating if your body is retaining a lot of water. When our body attempts to counterbalance the effect of being dehydrated, having an electrolyte imbalance, or going through a menstrual period, it tends to hold onto excess water. This sometimes leads to a full belly and worsens digestion. One way to reduce your body’s fluid retention is to fill it with more water (crazy, right?). The assumption is that the more water you drink, the more your body will be able to flush itself of any excess fluids and sodium. 

If you want to try a different source of water (besides regular water) to help rid your body of bloating, try drinking coconut water! According to studies, coconut water is even more effective at easing bloat since it contains high amounts of potassium and electrolytes that help the body maintain regular fluid levels. It even has a diuretic effect that makes you pass more urine (the more you pee, the less water you retain). Another option you can try is eating foods with high water content like watermelon, tomatoes, grapefruit, and cucumber! These foods allow your body to absorb water slowly since a large percentage of the water is trapped inside the fruit (fun fact: cucumbers are 96% water) and also ease the functionality of the digestive system.

Timing is everything

You’re not the only one who’s come across conflicting information on the internet about when you should drink water. Should you drink it before your meal? During your meal? Or after? No need to worry if you’re confused – here’s our take on it!

According to nutritionists, to prepare your intestines for the food that’s about to go down, it's recommended that you drink 1 glass of water 30 minutes before, during, and after a main meal (but no more). This will help your digestive system function properly and your body absorb nutrients more efficiently. 

However, if you drink too much water (more than 1 glass), you’ll most likely end up diluting your body of its natural juices that are normally used to aid digestion. Again, because these gastric acids help your system run smoothly, it’s suggested that you adhere to the 1 glass of water 30 minutes before, during, and after your main meal rule or sip (yes, sip – not chug) on water throughout the day. 

If you’re feeling extra ambitious, opt-in for either lukewarm or warm water to help your digestion even further! Warm water dilates the blood vessels in the gut and stimulates blood flow to the intestines. 

About that glass of sparkling water…

All this reading about water probably has you feeling a bit thirsty. (Sorry about that! You can blame it on neuroscience.) And let us guess, you were probably just thinking about that La Croix you put in the refrigerator to chill the other night?

If you’re any type of sparkling water obsessed and find yourself in a constant stage of bloat, keep reading to learn more about the connection we discovered between bloating and that bubbly fix you can’t seem to resist!

Suggestion: you might want to skip the La Croix for now and pour yourself a regular glass of water – at least until you’ve digested (pun intended) this next piece of information we’re about to share.

It’s not that sparkling water is bad for you. It's just that some people have to be more mindful than others about which fizz they chose to sip. If you’re confused as to why that is, let us break it down for you.

There are three types of sparkling water: seltzer, club soda, and mineral water. All contain carbon dioxide (CO2), a colorless gas. What makes them unique is the amount of CO2 they have. If ranked in order from least carbonated to most carbonated, mineral water would place first (since it's naturally carbonated) and seltzer and club soda would place last (since they lack minerals and are artificially carbonated). 

Side Note: If you want to fact-check us (via a source other than Google) try conducting your own experiment at home! First, open a bottle of mineral water. Then, open a can of seltzer or club soda. Listen to the sounds they both make when you first open them. Notice the seltzer or club soda makes a strong hissing sound compared to the mineral water. This proves that seltzer, club soda, and mineral all contain different amounts of CO2. 

Now that you understand what carbonation is and which sparkling waters contain the most CO2, let us explain why this information is so important. According to Go With Your Gut author and nutritional eating coach, Robyn Youkilis, “more carbonation means more potential for gas.” In other words, the reason why you may be experiencing bloat during or after sipping a La Croix probably has to do with the fact that your body is having a difficult time naturally breaking down large amounts of CO2. Instead of easily digesting the carbonated bubbles, your body is most likely creating air pockets that are building up in your stomach – hence, causing bloating. 

So if you’re not looking to part from that bubbly fix anytime soon and you think you may suffer from sparkling water bloat, we suggest you opt for a Perrier or Saratoga Springs before reaching for a seltzer or club soda. Again, the nutrients found in mineral water can aid digestion and its high-fiber count can even stir bowel movements!

Before we wrap up, this section wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the artificial sweeteners found in some sparkling water and how they can lead to digestive stress. Because the body doesn’t always fully absorb sugar substitutes, the gut bacteria can sometimes ferment the sweeteners and produce gases that cause bloating and flatulence. For this reason, we also suggest opting for a non-artificially sweetened sparkling water the next time you decide to indulge but don’t want to experience the uncomfortable feeling of bloat.

Let’s be clear 

There are certain instances when water can help with bloating, and there are some when it can worsen it. The most important thing is that you hydrate your body regardless of bloating!

If you don’t feel like drinking regular water and don’t mind that you may bloat from sparkling, then, by all means, go straight ahead and grab that can of La Croix! It's better than you falling short on your daily water intake. But, if you want to be more on the careful side, try drinking mineral water with low amounts of CO^2 and minimal to no artificial sweeteners so that you can experience the least amount of bloat while enjoying your fizz!

Lastly, if you’re looking to get rid of bloat, try drinking 1 glass of regular water before, during, and after your main meal or sipping on water throughout the day. Better yet, if the thought of more water makes you feel sick, try switching things up with coconut water or high water content foods like cucumbers! Either one will help lubricate your intestines for the food you're about to chow down on and flush your body of any excess water or sodium it may be holding onto.