We all know the feeling – being so bloated you could pass for being pregnant… well with summer officially here, I decided to have a look into the best ways to defeat the bloat and share what I’ve found…
1. Water, Baby!
The absolute number one way to beat the bloat is to aim to always drink two to three litres of water a day, because when your body does not get enough fluids, it retains water to prevent dehydration which will cause you to bloat. Also, drinking water can also help prevent constipation which is another cause of a swollen tummy. If you aren’t the biggest fan of water, upping the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat is great way to sneak the water in. With the likes of cucumber, watermelon and celery being full of water. See my full blog on hydration here http://www.thefwords.com/blog/2017/11/7/fitness-hydration-station
2. Vino is a No-Go
Alcohol causes inflammation to the gastro-intestinal lining of your gut and can lead to painful bloating and acid reflux. Now if you (like me) enjoy the odd glass of red with your dinner, (rose in summer!) the unfortunate reality is that your stomach lining isn’t going to thank you and this is why it has become more sensitive, irritated, inflamed and bloated. A treat once in a while, yes, but regular alcohol intake is detrimental to your gastro-health, so if you want to keep drinking, you need to accept there will inevitably be bloating!
3. Salty Ain’t Sassy!
In the UK and Ireland we love our salty food, (bacon sarnie, anyone?) but this contributes to water-retention which in turn leads to bloating. If you suffer with bloating issues, you should definitely try cutting out foods which are high in salt (sodium). These foods include highly processed foods and ready meals (but there are lots of reasons you should avoid these, not just the salt intake!) These foods are also often low in fibre, which does bloated bodies no favours. Stay with homemade, whole foods (mostly plant based if you can) and you will definitely feel better for it! *Although lots of fibrous plant foods can cause bloating as they are being digested, even if it is short term and a healthier kind of bloat!
Key Tip: The more salt you consume on a given day, the more potassium-rich foods you should eat to counter its effect. These include bananas, asparagus, citrus fruits, melon and tomatoes. Stock up on these to make the bloat go down.
4. Epsom salts
Eating salt may be bad for you, but bathing in salt is so good for you! Running a hot bath and adding some Epsom salts will draw out the body’s toxins, balance the hormones and leaves you feeling relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. This helps ease your stomach issues and will have you running the bath every night!
5. Get Fruity
This tip might seem a little obvious, but the food you eat can have massive effects on bloating! Fruit is one of the best ways you can combat the bloat and sugar cravings all in one – it’s called nature’s Skittles for a reason! Melon is amazing when it comes to bloating as it’s a natural diuretic, will help to flush out any excess sodium and water from the body. Lastly, pineapple is great to add to your diet as it’s high in an enzyme called bromelain which helps to break down proteins! Like the legumes we mention before, some fruit can bloat you up because of their sheer fibrous nature, but the benefits are worth it, so eat fruit early in the morning to burn off the sugar energy and allow your body to digest it as the day goes by. Your tummy will be nice and flat by the time you go out that night.
6. Beans Means Bloat!
As well adding foods into your diet, there are certain food that you should consume with care to avoid bloating and gas – legumes and beans being among them. This group of foods is super high in fibre and really good for you, so you shouldn’t cut them out completely, but cutting down on the amounts you eat can help when it comes to bloating. The fact that beans and legumes are so high in fibre is what can cause our tummies to bloat, as the body just can’t break them down effectively, especially when they aren’t cooked properly. The same goes for cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
7. Life Gives You Lemons
Lemons may seem bitter and acidic to taste, but they are a great reliever of bloating and indigestion as they help reset the pH levels in your tummy and digestive tract. Your body will thank you when you jazz up your water with some lemon slices or freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add other bloat-beating ingredients such as ginger, mint and/or apple cider vinegar which are known to be great for your gastro-health, as they can ease gas, nausea and everything in between.
Speaking of Apple Cider Vinegar, anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge advocate of ACV, it is something I consume regularly and I credit it to being one of the reasons I am rarely sick. Adding a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar mixed in with some warm water with lemon and ginger each morning is a great way to kickstart the body’s digestive system. This ‘tea’ is a perfect night cap instead (or as well).
9. Minty fresh is best
Peppermint, whether it be in tea or capsule form, can be a great relaxer for the digestive system. It calms your stomach muscles which is what makes it a great de-bloater. It also contains methanol, an ingredient that keeps things moving in our digestive system. The best way to take this is from fresh mint leaves in lukewarm water – mint is a herb which is so easy to grow, even the least green-fingered among us could manage it on a windowsill with little more than regular water and sunlight.
10. Fight the Fizz
The bubbles in carbonated drinks can cause air and gas to get trapped in your tummy, which causes it to swell and even cause pain. Swap out your fizzy drinks for natural water and get your sugar fix through fresh fruit!
11. Less Stress More Success
Stress knocks your body out of kilter, so it’s no surprise that it can affect bloating. Being stressed can disrupt normal hormone and neurotransmitter balances, which results in the food we eat being poorly digested, and this in turn results in, yep you guessed it – more bloating. Managing stress and the stress level cortisol could be the key to your bloating, so doing activities like exercise (even if it’s a small 20-minute walk), meditating or taking a bath could really work wonders.
12. Mindful Mouthfuls
It’s easy to find yourself wolfing down food while watching the latest episode of your favourite show or munching lunch on the run, but this fast-food approach to eating can be a major culprit of bloating. Try to approach meal times with a touch of mindfulness as you pay attention to what you’re eating and take the time to chew slowly. Not only will this aid digestion, but it’ll also leave you satisfied and pain free!
13. Allergy Alert!
Whilst everything listed here can be beneficial for some in reducing bloating, for others it may be more complicated. Bloating may be caused by an allergy or intolerance – which needs to be identified and addressed properly. We’ve all heard people talking about cutting diary and gluten from their diets to stop bloating (cutting out wheat as much as possible has definitely helped me); however, before you follow suit and throw away all the bread and ice cream, pay your GP a visit and take a simple food allergy test to rule out intolerances for YOUR body.