3 Surefire Ways to Beat the Bloat
By KERI GLASSMAN
We all know the age-old tricks to a flat belly: skip the dairy and beans and avoid fried foods like the plague. But swimsuit season is already in full swing and these well-known approaches might not be enough.
First, we need to understand what bloating is truly about. Bloating can be triggered by one of two things:
* Buildup of gas in the abdomen: Caused by digestion, swallowed air or an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.
* Water retention: Usually caused by carbonated beverages, highly processed foods, fried foods, gum, sugar alcohols, cruciferous veggies and beans.
But I promise you, avoiding unwanted belly billow is totally in your control. By following these tips, you can make some easy food substitutions and behavior changes that will help you beat the bloat.
1. Skip the Fruit
I'd never tell you to avoid fruit altogether, but if you're feeling a little bit like a balloon, high-sugar fruits -- grapes, apples, pears or raisins -- may be the culprit. In a study, Peter Beyer, RD, a researcher at the University of Kansas Medical Center, found that almost 50 percent of people get gas from consuming fructose, which is a sugar in fruit.
If you suspect that this may apply to you, you're better off eating fruits lower in fructose, such as grapefruit, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. Just remember that fruit isn't a freebie -- just because it's nutritious doesn't mean it's devoid of calories and sugar!
2. Make Some Tea
You might think chomping on a piece of gum helps you get a flat belly because you're keeping other food out of your mouth. But did you know that the act of chewing gum might actually cause air to be swallowed, triggering that unwanted bloat?
If you feel like you need to keep your mouth busy, but you aren't hungry, reach for some tea. Homemade sun tea is refreshing and easy to make: Put six tea bags into a 32-fluid ounce glass container, then fill with water and cover. Place the container out in the sun for three to five hours.
When the time is up, chill it in the refrigerator and you've got an anti-bloat elixir ready to go. Peppermint, ginger and chamomile are the best teas for this, since they can help food pass through the stomach and can even relieve gas.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
It may seem counterintuitive to consume liquid to reduce bloat, but drink up! If you're spending a lot of time outside this summer, make sure you're guzzling plenty of water. Water balances out sodium levels (too much salt can trigger bloat) and regulates digestive activity.
Of course, summer is a tempting time for fruity drinks and beers on the beach, but cocktails with carbonation are criminals when it comes to bloating. Beer's fermented fizzle is definitely a no-no, and drinks mixed with club soda or seltzer are also bubbly bloaters.
Basically, steering clear of the carbonation is the surest way to keep that belly flat. Instead, opt for herbal tea or water with fresh slices of citrus -- you might be surprised by how refreshing these simple substitutions can be. Remember to sip slow and avoid using a straw because it draws in extra air.
Readers -- Have you ever suffered from belly bloat? Have you tried any of these tips? If not, how do you relieve bloating? Leave a comment below and share your tips and tricks.
Keri Glassman is a contributing editor and advisory board member for Women's Health magazine and is the nutrition and health contributor for NBC's New York Live. She regularly appears on national television programs and hosts an original series called "A Little Bit Better," which is featured on YouTube's LivestrongWoman channel. Keri resides in New York City with her children, Rex and Maizy. Whether she is training for a marathon, going to the farmers market or drinking her nightly cup of herbal tea, Keri lives and breathes a nutritious life while inspiring others to do the same.
Beyer PL, Caviar EM, McCallum RW. Fructose intake at current levels in the United States may cause gastrointestinal distress in normal adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005;105(10):1559-1566