Feeling swell and not in a good way? Try these 10 no-effort lifestyle tweaks to flatten your stomach and keep it that way!
1 Eat warm to stay flat
Traditional Chinese medicine suggests avoiding sugar, dairy and raw, cold foods. “They encourage dampness, which equals water retention and bloating,” says nutrition and health expert Dr Caroline Longmore. So steam your veg rather than crunching crudités.
2 Make fruit a loner
What makes fruit a bloating culprit when it’s so good for us? “Some people can’t tolerate it raw – it makes them puff up,” says Dr Longmore. What to do? “If in doubt, cook it,” continues Dr Longmore. “Or eat it between meals, with a good time gap on either side.” Which fruits are kind to the gut? Stewed apple is a nutritionist’s dream – it digests effortlessly!
3 Drink more, inflate less!
“When you drink too little, your body reacts by releasing the hormone aldosterone in an effort to conserve water, so drinking more actually helps relieve fluid retention,” says naturopath Sarah Bowles-Flannery.
4 Pop a probiotic
A daily probiotic helps encourage good bacteria in the gut and prevents inner turmoil and bloating. Which pill, though? It’s tricky, says pharmacist Shabir Daya. “Some strains of bacteria work in the small intestine; others work primarily in the large intestine, so always go for a multi-strain probiotic supplement.” As a bonus, probiotics work at boosting immunity, too.
5 A new cup of ‘tea’
Try these ideas using ingredients you can pick up from health food stores. Expert Susan Curtis suggests a tea to help with gassy bloating: combine equal amounts of dried caraway seed, fennel and peppermint. Pour a cup of boiling water over a heaped teaspoon, stand, then strain.
6 More fibre!
Eating more of the foods that create gassy bloating can actually help sort it out! Foods, such as cabbage, onions, and beans, can prevent bloat. And Chinese medicine marks out mung beans or barley as an ace remedy for bloating!
7 Massage to the max!
A sneaky bit of at-your-desk massage can really help ease lunchtime bloating. Place your hands on your abdomen and, through your clothes, use a clockwise massage movement for just a few moments. Want to make it really effective? Then try this at home, using a smart ‘recipe’. Add 10 drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils to 100ml of almond base oil. Massage the oil up the legs to stimulate the lymphatic system – this encourages excess fluid to exit the body – then repeat the abdomen massage as before.
8 Kiss off the carbs
And that includes bread, pasta, pastries and biscuits – especially those made with white flour! Eat too many carbs and they get stored as glycogen – a molecule that hangs on to a fair bit of water and contributes to that liquid kilo – the stuff that comes off fast when you start any kind of diet. So if you have that kind of fluid excess around the middle, go for lean proteins and colourful veg to deflate.
9 ‘Drink’ your veggies!
Veggies are the puffed-up girl’s best friend. “It’s a good idea to eat naturally diuretic veg, such as cucumber, celery, asparagus, fennel and parsley,” says Sarah. “High in water content, they’re also rich in magnesium and potassium, which help with water balance.” So easy!
10 Get a move on!
Any exercise will push gas from your system and encourage you to expel fluid – speedy walking is brilliant and cycling regularly can help ease IBS. Yoga – especially the kind that focuses on working internal organs, such as kundalini – is the real winner. Find classes at kundaliniyoga.co.za.
DISCLAIMER: Before starting any diet or exercise plan, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.