Feeling bloated lots of the time? It’s unfortunately a really common problem and can often become worse during the summer months, or when the weather is warmer. There are a number of reasons for this; being prepared is the key!
Check for water retention!
Conversely, the body tends to hold onto water (you’re naturally around 70% water), when the weather is hotter, which leads to water retention and, therefore bloating. The best way of avoiding water retention is to actually 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 also counts 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 holding on or eliminating sodium. It’s a very fine balancing act! However, if you’re feeling stressed (and modern-day life tends to be very stressful!), then it’s worth taking some time out of a busy day to practice some yoga or just a few minutes of very deep breathing, to help the body relax.
Get the good bacteria is fine balance!
The gastrointestinal tract is home to vast numbers of bacteria, commonly referred to as friendly flora; there are over 500 different types, weighing anything up to two kilos, in the gut! Some are good and some not-so-good, but there needs to be more good than bad; 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 really do need to replenish the good bacteria otherwise you’ll definitely be feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Additionally, try to eat foods that help to replenish the good bacteria being 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!)
Cut the sugar!
There are a number of reasons for trying to keep to a low-sugar diet; most importantly, a high sugar diet encourages the release of insulin, which in turn affects aldosterone levels (see above). This will encourage water retention and, therefore, bloating. Sugar is sugar in all its forms, and yes, even honey is sugar! 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; 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, have at least an hour after eating other foods before consuming any fruit.
Check the over-indulgences!
With the warmer weather on its way, the barbecue is dusted off! However, this can encourage over-indulge and over-indulgence can lead to bloating! 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 barbecue, the burgers and sausages will often cause digestive upsets because they are 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 break down food, helping your digestive system run 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 tables before you go out either at lunch-time or in the evening.
There is a tendency to ‘self-diagnose’ food intolerances! However, if you’re eating foods that don’t agree with you, 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 some egg 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 a number of blood tests available to help properly diagnose the exact cause of 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!