If you are someone who often feels bloated it can make you feel uncomfortable and not quite like yourself. It can also affect the way you feel about how you look. Unfortunately it is a really common problem and can often become worse during the summer months, when the weather is warmer.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her five top tips on how to ‘beat the bloat’ and enjoy a more comfortable summer!
TIP 1 – CHECK FOR WATER RETENTION
Your body is made up of around 70% water, so when the weather is hotter, and your body needs more water, it tends to hold onto it; this can lead to water retention and, therefore bloating.
It might seem counterintuitive but the best way of avoiding water retention is actually to drink more water – around 1 ½ to 2 litres daily! Additionally, certain herbs, such as dandelion, work as diuretics, helping to reduce water retention; drinking some dandelion tea throughout the day can work wonders and will also count towards your daily fluid intake.
Stress can also have an effect on water balance; aldosterone, a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, helps to regulate water balance in the body by either holding onto or eliminating sodium (salt). So the more stressed you are, the more bloating you may experience. If you’re feeling stressed then it’s worth taking some time out of your busy day to practice some yoga or close your eyes and take a few minutes for some deep breathing, and help the body relax.
TIP 2 – GET GOOD ‘FLORAL’ BALANCE
Some flora are good and some not-so-good, so ideally there needs to be a balance of more good than bad for a healthy gut; an imbalance can cause various digestive upsets, including bloating and the dreaded flatulence! It’s always a good idea to take a course of probiotics for one or two months every year to keep the good bacteria in balance. Plus, if you’ve recently taken a course of antibiotics then you may need to replenish the good bacteria to reduce any feelings of bloating and discomfort.
Additionally, try to eat foods that help to replenish the good bacteria. These include asparagus (great on the barbecue at this time of year), Jerusalem artichokes, onions, bananas, green tea and fermented foods such as tofu or miso (miso soup is delicious!)
TIP 3 – SAY NO TO SUGAR!
There are a number of reasons for trying to keep to a low-sugar diet. In terms of contributing to bloating, a high sugar diet encourages the release of insulin, which in turn affects aldosterone levels (see Tip one), and this will encourage water retention and, therefore, bloating.
Sugar is sugar in all its forms, including things like honey. However, if you’ve got a slightly ‘sweet tooth’ then take steps to reduce the obvious culprits; cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks, alcohol and certain fruits including mangoes, pineapples and papayas are delicious, but should be eaten in moderation.
Interestingly, it’s always best to eat fruit, and in particular, melons, away from other foods, because it encourages fermentation in the digestive tract. This, in turn will, lead to bloating. Therefore, try to have at least an hour after eating other foods before consuming any fruit.
TIP 4 – COMBAT OVER-INDULGENCE!
Summer parties and barbecues are ideal opportunities to over-indulge and over-indulgence can lead to bloating. However, with a little forward planning, you can wake up feeling as fresh as a daisy the next day and your digestive system will be happy too!
Your liver is the main organ of detoxification and has to work hard if too much alcohol and fatty food is consumed. If you’re going to be drinking alcohol then it’s always wise to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink consumed. Likewise, if you’re attending a summer barbecue, the burgers and sausages will often cause digestive upsets because they’re hard to digest.
One way to help combat this is to grab some digestive enzymes which are readily available in health food stores. They can be taken with each meal and will help break down food, supporting your digestive system in running a little smoother.
Additionally, the herb, milk thistle, is particularly protective of the liver and helps to combat the ‘morning after the night before’ feelings, including any of the associated bloating that may occur. Take one or two tablets before you go out either at lunch-time or in the evening.
TIP 5 – CHECK FOR FOOD INTOLERANCES!
There is a tendency to ‘self-diagnose’ food intolerances at the moment. However, if you’re eating foods that don’t agree with you, you will know about it as this will certainly lead to bloating.
Common culprits are gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs or soya. However, anyone can be intolerant to any foods – we’re all different in that respect. Most importantly, it’s not always an intolerance to certain foods, just that we are eating them too frequently. As an example, there are many people who eat cereal for breakfast, a sandwich at lunchtime and a pasta-based meal for dinner. Consequently, there’ll be lots of wheat consumed throughout the day, and this in itself can lead to unpleasant symptoms, including bloating.
Think about eating eggs with rye toast for breakfast, a salad and soup for lunch and some chicken or fish with rice and vegetables for dinner. However, if you’re really finding it difficult to identify the ‘culprits’ then a visit to a Nutritionist will certainly help and there are a number of blood tests available to properly diagnose the exact cause of your bloating.
So, don’t suffer in silence if bloating is ruining your summer; there’s lots you can do to help everything run smoother and put that smile back on your face!
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