Bloating often strikes during the worst possible times, causing your midsection to bulge out precisely on those days when you want to rock a bikini or skinny jeans. What gives?
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Just as certain foods can contribute to belly bloat, there are foods you can eat to help banish the bloat as well. Belly bloating can occur for a variety of reasons, including hormonal changes before a menstrual cycle, acid reflux, undiagnosed Celiac disease, lactose intolerance, overeating, swallowing air (from chewing too much gum, for example) or eating certain foods. A bloated tummy leaves you feeling full and tight, sometimes with a swollen, distended outer appearance. Not good.
When you are feeling the bloat, these five foods can help you fight back and provide some relief.
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, which can help reduce water retention. An electrolyte that helps maintain a normal balance of water in the body, potassium and sodium work in opposition. When you increase your intake of sodium, it results in an increased excretion of potassium, and vice versa. If you have had too many salty foods (sodium), your body will respond with decreased potassium levels and by retaining water. Water retention (edema) is what often causes swelling and puffiness in the face, feet, ankles, and belly.
Therefore, eating foods that are high in potassium, like the mighty banana, can help restore sodium and potassium levels and reduce water retention.
2. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a leafy green that is also an excellent source of potassium. One cup of chopped swiss chard has only 35 calories, so you can eat enough of this versatile veg will satisfy you without any added sugar, fat or carbs. Generally, Swiss chard and other leafy greens are generally very well tolerated by our gut flora, and do not cause excessive gas that can cause bloating, or make existing bloating worse. Cooking swiss chard makes it easy to digest, so steam it or sauté in a small amount of coconut oil to reap the anti-bloat benefits.
Constipation is a common cause of bloating, whereas fibre, like that found in whole oats, can help keep you regular.. Insoluble fibre found in oats and other whole grains adds bulk as it moves through the digestive system, preventing constipation and making it easier to go. Keep in mind, however, that insoluble fibre absorbs water as well, so you should always increase your fibre intake slowly, and be sure to increase your water intake at the same time.
Sometimes carbohydrates can exasperate bloat symptoms in people who lack the necessary enzymes needed to digest them. When these undigested carbs reach the colon, they can ferment and lead to a buildup of gas that causes bloating, discomfort, or even pain. For these people, avoiding carbohydrates or adding additional digestive enzymes may help. For the rest of us, high-fibre foods like carbohydrates can help alleviate bloating.
Cucumbers are extremely high in water content; as much as 96 per cent of a cucumber is water weight. When water retention is to blame for your bloated belly, then eating foods with a high water content can help bring it down. Water retention is often a result of too much sodium, and drinking plenty of water, as well as eating water-rich foods, can help flush out the bloat. In addition to cucumbers, radishes, zucchini, iceberg lettuce, and tomatoes all have extremely high levels of water.
You could assemble a belly-bloat-beating salad with these high water vegetables, and squeeze a splash of lemon on top. (Lemon is thought to improve digestion.)
Kimchi (or kimchee) is a traditional Korean side dish made of fermented vegetables. It is sometimes referred to as “Korean ketchup,” due to its popularity as a meal accompaniment. Kimchi is made from vegetables including cabbage, radishes, cucumbers, peppers, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers. Kimchi is a fermented food, meaning it contains live bacterial cultures and enzymes.
Fermented foods have been eaten in various cultures for thousands of years, and it is thought that the beneficial “good” bacteria play a role in supporting digestive and immune health.
If you can’t find kimchi, then other examples of fermented foods are sourdough bread, sauerkraut, preserved lemons, homemade pickles, kefir, and yogurt.
Your digestive system is teeming with bacteria, and an imbalance your gut flora can lead to digestive issues like bloating and gas. Friendly beneficial bacteria, like the “good” bacteria found in fermented foods, can help keep bad bacteria (like E. coli) from colonizing your stomach.
Antibiotics can also wipe out all of the bacteria, good and bad, from your gut. When this happens, recolonizing your stomach with good bacteria from fermented foods can help improve digestion, and reduce instances of constipation, bloating, and gas.
By increasing your intake of foods with high water content, plenty of fibre, “good” bacteria, and high levels of potassium, you can help your body fight back against belly bloat. Remember to steer clear of extremely salty foods when you are attempting to get buttoned back into your favourite jeans, and drink plenty of water. You should be feeling slim and trim again in no time.