Beat The Bloat: What’s Causing Your Belly Bloat, and How to Get Rid of it

(PCM) The number one trick for looking and feeling great in a bikini is confidence, and there’s nothing like a bloated belly to rain on your parade. Let’s face it, summer barbecues, tiki bar hopping, and chasing down the ice-cream truck can lead to serious bloat and water retention. And exercise isn’t always on the to-do list when the sun is shining and friends are calling to lay out by the pool.

Maybe you aren’t even overdoing it with the barbecues or summer cocktails, or maybe you’ve been exercising regularly but you’re still dealing with bloating and excess water retention. So, what’s going on?

A bloated belly can be caused by a number of things – water retention, excess gas, and constipation. Here are a few different causes and how to get rid of bloating fast:

1. Excess sodium in your diet is a big factor in water retention. Many processed foods, sauces, and snacks have hidden high levels of salt. The average hot dog has more than 500 mg of sodium, including the bun, and you can’t even begin to imagine the sodium levels in other barbecue favorites – chips, pretzels, potato and pasta salads, condiments, etc. Even salads can have disastrous sodium levels, with some restaurant salads containing more than 2,000 mg of sodium! High sodium foods will not only make you thirstier, but also cause you to retain water.

So, watch your sodium levels- it’s the quickest and easiest way to water retention. Choose fresh over processed, and keep your sodium intake below 2000 mg. Potassium helps your body remove excess sodium and correct water imbalances. High-potassium foods include bananas, cantaloupe, mangoes, spinach, tomatoes, nuts, and asparagus. So start adding these to your barbecues.

2. Dehydration, or simply not drinking enough water, can lead to water retention and bloating. When your body isn’t getting enough water it holds on to fluids as a precaution. It’s easier to become dehydrated in the summer; you lose a lot of fluid through sweating, and the more time spent outdoors in the hot sun, the more fluids you’ll lose. Before you know it, if you aren’t constantly replenishing your fluids, you’ll be dehydrated.

Drinking more water causes your body to release the stored fluids, so drink up! Make sure you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day, and more if you exercise regularly or spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun.

3. Certain foods can also cause gas and bloating, especially those high in fiber. Beans, fruits and vegetables, and other high-fiber foods that you aren’t used to can wreak havoc on your digestive system, causing gas and bloating.

Fiber is actually helpful in eliminating water weight and keeping you regular, but you can’t jump into it. Increase your fiber intake slowly up to the recommended daily amount – 25 grams for women and 35 grams for men – to avoid bloating.

4. Increased alcohol consumption is also a contributor to bloating. A night of heavy drinking doesn’t just cause stomach bloating, it can also cause the face to puff up! Limit yourself to one or two drinks, never drink on an empty stomach, and drink plenty of water.

5. Let’s not forget about that dreadful time of the month. Women often retain water before their period, caused by hormonal changes. It’s not your fault, and most women do have to deal with some bloating every month. Midol and Pamprin help with the diuretic effect, but it’s only a temporary solution and not something you want to use regularly.

6. Exercising regularly can help release excess gas and water weight. Cardiovascular exercise gets things moving, helping to release air trapped in your GI tract, relieving pressure and bloating. Cardio also helps your kidneys pump out extra body fluid. So get moving!

Other things to do avoid:

– Avoid high-carb foods like bagels, pasta, pretzels, and cereals. Carbohydrates are stored with more water than protein or fat.

– Avoid chewing gum, drinking out of a straw, smoking, and eating too fast. All these habits cause you to swallow extra air!

– Avoid carbonated beverages. The fizz can cause gas to get trapped in your belly!

– Avoid artificial sweeteners, which can cause digestive problems including gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

– Milk products if you think you might be lactose intolerant

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