Feeling confident is key. Bloating is high on the list of buzz-killers, so here’s what you need to know so you can dial it down to look and feel your best.
Things to Keep in Mind
Water retention is a main contributor to bloating. Women may notice this during menstruation as well, as hormonal shifts encourage water retention. Another factor is gas, which can build up during digestion.
What we eat can also have an impact. Some foods encourage bloating, and some combat it. For example, high-sodium foods contribute to water retention, but high-potassium foods can help counteract that effect. Foods that have a diuretic effect (meaning, they make you pee) can also help manage bloating.
A Few Common Dietary Culprits:
- Dehydration—When the body is dehydrated, it holds onto whatever fluid it does have, causing bloating.
- Salty foods—Excess sodium intake promotes water retention.
- Carbonated Beverages—Bubbles create gas in the body.
- Gum—Chewing gum causes us to swallow air, leading to abdominal discomfort and bloating.
- Eating Too Fast—Gulping our food also causes us to gulp down air, leading to buildup of gas.
- Hard-to-Digest Foods—Foods such as beans, cruciferous vegetables, prunes, whole grains, and dairy (if you’re lactose-intolerant) come with health benefits, but the body has to work hard to break them down, causing gassiness and bloating.
- Artificial Sweeteners—Say no to Splenda. Artificial sweeteners are difficult to digest.
- Asparagus—In addition to being a diuretic food, asparagus has prebiotic fibers to promote healthy absorption of nutrients while discouraging gas and bloating.
- Avocado—The potassium counteracts the effect of sodium, creating a slimming effect.
- Banana—Bananas are high in potassium.
- Black Coffee and Green Tea—Caffeine is a natural diuretic. Green tea, though a milder source of caffeine, has been shown to stimulate the metabolism and help ease the body into digestion.
- Cucumber—Silica, caffeic acid and vitamin C in cucumber help reduce swelling and prevent water retention.
- Fennel—Aside from being high in potassium, fennel soothes the gastrointestinal tract, fighting swelling. It also contains a phyonutrient called anethole, which may also fight inflammation in the body.
- Ginger—Like fennel, ginger has a stomach-calming, anti-inflammatory effect and has been used for thousands of years to soothe gastrointestinal tract discomfort.
- Lemon and Lime—These powerful detoxifiers work as natural diuretic and gentle laxatives. Add the juice of one lemon to a cup of warm water first thing in the morning to get things moving.
- Melon—Like cucumber, melon and other water-packed, low-acid fruits and veggies promote hydration, which prompts the body to release some fluid.
- Papaya—Aside from being high in potassium, papayas contain an enzyme called papain that aids in digestion and may reduce gas and bloating.
- Yogurt—The probiotic bacteria promote good digestion and fight swelling and inflammation. Stick with plain and add your own sweetness in the form of fruit or honey. Avoid artificially sweetened varieties, and these may cause bloating. Just a note: Skip this one if you’re lactose-intolerant.
There you have it: Your grocery shopping list full of bloat-fighting foods!
By Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN: Jessica is a registered dietitian and writer in NYC. She blogs at Keeping It Real Food.
Image via S.S. Print Shop.