Here at CF, we're all friends, which means we can talk about - well - some uncomfortable topics from time to time. One of such topic, both literally and figuratively, is belly bloat. This phenomenon, often caused by excess gas buildup, can leave you feeling less-than-stellar in your clothes and can affect your comfort and mood.
Since summer is no time to feel uncomfortable and sick, I'm here to help you beat the bloat and feel like yourself again. Yes, the occasional bloating that we all experience can easily be remedied with simple diet and lifestyle choices.
If you've been feeling a little bloated lately, check out these 8 tips to help deflate a blown-up belly:
1. Cut Out Carbonation
Carbonated beverages get their fizz from the carbon dioxide that is dissolved within the drinks. When consumed, the air bubbles get trapped within your intestinal tract and quickly cause bloating as gas builds up within your digestive organs.
When it comes to battling belly bloat, your best bet is to eliminate soda, even diet drinks, from your diet altogether - they're only harmful to your health anyway! The acid rapidly wears down the enamel of your teeth and soft drinks are loaded with unhealthy sugars and artificial ingredients.
2. Chew Things Over
Sometimes it can be hard to sit down and enjoy a relaxing meal when keeping up with the fast-paced lifestyle of the 21st century, but chowing down too quickly causes you to swallow excess air that then gets trapped within your gut, causing abdominal cramping, pain, and bloating. Give yourself extra time in the morning to eat breakfast calmly and slowly, and allow yourself at least thirty minutes to sit down and eat lunch and dinner.
Eating at a slower pace also ensures that you are thoroughly chewing your food, making it easily digestible so that it can pass along your gastrointestinal tract. The less you chew, the more your digestive system has to work in order to break down larger pieces of food. This increased stress to your digestive system can result in painful abdominal cramping and bloating that can easily be avoided.
3. Burst Your Bubble
While it may help calm your nerves, chomping away on a colorful gumball or minty stick of gum can also cause you to suck in excess air and bloat your belly. Many types of gum and candy also contain artificial sweeteners that the body cannot digest and absorb, resulting in uncomfortable gas buildup from the undigested material. To prevent bloating, keep your consumption of artificially sweetened products to a minimum.
4. Tea for Two
Brew up a hot cup in order to reap tea's two anti-bloating benefits. Just as a hot bath can help soothe sore muscles, drinking warm tea can help relax tense intestinal muscles and relieve pressure from gas buildup.
Secondly, certain herbal teas have medicinal properties that can tame a troublesome tummy. Peppermint, chamomile, and ginger teas all contain carminative herbs that prevent or relieve gas buildup within the digestive tract, and are especially helpful for treating bloating, indigestion, and abdominal discomfort.
5. Limit Dairy
You may want to limit your intake of dairy products if you often find yourself plagued by a bloated belly. People who are lactose intolerant fail to produce enough of the enzyme lactase needed to break down lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. When the body cannot digest this sugar, gas, bloating, and painful abdominal cramping often ensue.
Even if you are not lactose intolerant, many people are sensitive to dairy and can only tolerate milk products in small amounts. If you find yourself with an upset stomach, limit your dairy intake to small quantities spaced throughout the day and see if it makes a difference. Eating dairy products on an empty stomach can also intensify symptoms, so incorporate dairy products into your meals with other foods to lessen discomforting symptoms.
Because dairy is such a repeat offender when it comes to stomach upsets and can be linked to unwanted health conditions including acne breakouts, constipation, and heart disease, Harvard School of Public Health suggests looking toward other foods, like leafy green vegetables and legumes, for supplying your daily dose of calcium.
6. Fix Your Fiber Intake
Getting enough dietary fiber is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system, but too much or too little can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal tract. Not eating enough fiber can slow down the digestive process, worsening bloating and abdominal discomfort. Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day from fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
If your fiber intake is a little on the low side, be wary of increasing your fiber too quickly - your body cannot adjust to a drastic increase of dietary fiber and symptoms such as abdominal cramping and bloating can intensify. Up your fiber intake gradually, just a few grams at a time, to allow your body to slowly adjust to the dietary change.
Make sure to be mindful of where your fiber is coming from. While beans and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are all great fiber sources, they are notorious for causing a gassy gut. Slowly incorporate small portions of these foods into your diet to benefit from the health benefits without overwhelming your digestive tract.
Being physically active can help get your insides moving as well. Regular exercise revs up your metabolism, putting your digestive tract into high gear, and can alleviate abdominal discomfort and bloating. Gently massaging your stomach after exercise may help to relieve pressure as well.
8. Hydrate Your Body
Along with exercise, keeping your body hydrated will help stimulate food digestion, providing your body with the hydration it needs to keep your metabolism up and running efficiently.
What Do You Think?
Are you frequently a victim of belly bloat? Do you think any of these suggestions can help tame your tummy troubles? Drop a comment below and let me know!