Bloating is a condition that results when excess gas builds up in your intestines. This can be problematic because your stomach feels larger than normal, which can be uncomfortable. Bloating also can be the result of water retention due to excess sodium or hormone swings. While foods can cause these symptoms, eating the right foods can help relieve bloating and water retention.
Water retention occurs when your cells hold onto excess water and your kidneys do not signal the body to release water. One way to combat this is by drinking more water or eating water-containing foods. The added water can stimulate your kidneys to release excess water in your body. Examples of fruits that act as natural diuretics -- meaning they stimulate diuresis or urination -- include watermelon, honeydew melon and cantaloupe. As an added benefit, these fruits also are a source of fiber, which can help to relieve bloating. Papayas also contains water that can have a diuretic effect, and they have an enzyme that can enhance digestion to reduce bloating.
Vegetables also are a source of water in your diet that can relieve bloating and act as a diuretic. Examples include onions, celery and cucumbers. Foods like asparagus, artichoke and watercress also have a diuretic effect. One way to incorporate these foods into a bloat-relieving meal is by preparing a soup made with diuretic vegetables. Avoid adding excess sodium, however.
Other foods that relieve bloating and can act as diuretics include quinoa, which is a round grain from South America. This grain has many minerals your kidneys filter, including magnesium, phosphorus and manganese. The extra potassium also can help your body release water. Brewing teas that contain certain herbs also can have diuretic effects; these include parsley, dandelion and juniper berries.
Foods to Avoid
Certain foods can contribute to bloating and water retention, including broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage. These vegetables can contribute to bloating because they contain sugars that release gas when broken down. Sugary or high-sodium foods like cookies, cakes, French fries, pizza or chips also can contribute to bloating and water retention.
- "Parents"; 10 Ways to Beat Bloating; 2004
- Brigham and Women's Hospital; Gas: Beat the Bloat; Natalie Egan, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.; October 2009
- Fit Sugar; Quick Tips: 5 Belly-Shrinking, De-Bloating Foods; March 2011
- Every Diet: Diuretic Diet; 2011
- MayoClinic; Water Retention: Are There Any Natural Diuretics?; Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.; September 2009