Bloating can be caused by poor digestion, too much sodium, or your period. To stop it, stock up on these foods that help with bloating.
1. Water with Lemon
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A lot of people skip sipping on water when they are bloated, when in reality they should be doing the opposite. "People tend to think that when they're holding on to water they should cut back drinking it, but that's not the case," says David Grotto, R.D., the author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life and The Best Things You Can Eat. Retaining water is actually your body's way of holding on to fluid so you don't dehydrate.
If you're having a bloating problem, that's the time you want to push fluids, not restrict them, Grotto says. Since lemons are a natural diuretic and a gentle laxative when added to warm water, consuming lemon water can help reduce the amount of salt retained in the body and help with bloating. Just make sure you drink from the glass and not through a straw, so you don't take in any extra air. (Not a fan of H2O as is? Try these 20 tricks to perk up tap water.)
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Over the years, this green crunchy stalk has been used as a digestive aid to regulate bowel movements and to control intestinal gas because its chemicals are known to decrease fluid retention. "Celery has a high water content with a detoxing system, which can help to purge your body of toxins," says Grotto. (Just read this before you try the celery juice trend.)
Other top picks for veggies that will help reduce fluid retention include cucumber, summer squashes, parsley, and any other kind of leafy greens. When it comes to eating vegetables in general, lean toward cooked over raw. "The fiber structure is broken down once they're cooked, making them easier to digest," says Grotto. "Even if the raw vegetables have a high water content, it can result in more bloating for some people." (Related: 8 Fad-Free Ways to Detox Your Body)
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All kinds of melons are beneficial to your health, but watermelon is known as one of the juiciest fruits on the stand and one of the best foods that help with bloating. That's probably because it's 92 percent water. According to Grotto, it also has a natural diuretic property and is a great source of potassium. "The balance between sodium and potassium is important when it comes to controlling bloat," he says. For DIY spa water, try mixing lemon, cucumber, watermelon, and rosemary for an ultimate belly-deflating fix. (A word of caution: You may need to use the restroom more than usual when sipping on this.)
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4. Turmeric and Rosemary
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Rosemary has been used to treat everything from heartburn and headaches to toothaches and high blood pressure. But it also treats intestinal gas and helps digestion, says Jackie Newgent, R.D., culinary nutritionist and chef. She suggests steeping it in your tea or combining it with celery or parsley to make your own cooking broth. Valued in Asia for its ability to fight pain and inflammation, turmeric is also key in aiding upset stomach and bloat reduction, says Newgent. Use the bright yellow spice in a curry dish. Or for a one-two punch, use turmeric to flavor another food that helps with bloating on this list.
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5. Beans and Lentils
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The majority of Grotto's patients with bloated bellies are taking in too much sodium and not enough potassium and fiber. "Ramping down your sodium and increasing your potassium will have an almost immediate effect of reducing bloat," he says. Lentils, with their high amount of fiber, are a good choice for aiding with digestion. Potassium-rich foods include white beans, soybeans, and lima beans—and they are also the highest-fiber vegetables you can get. Newgent adds that beans are naturally high in both estrogen and protein and can relieve period-induced bloat. (Related: Bean Desserts—Yes, Really!—You'll Want to Make Every Day)
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Since a lot of people are sensitive to lactose, it's better to opt for yogurt instead of milk in your next smoothie, especially the kind with live active cultures in it.
"Yogurt is already pre-digested and the milk sugar is broken down, whereas in milk it's not, which can create gas and bloating," says Newgent. The nature of the active cultures lactobacillus and acidophilus found in yogurt can improve symptoms of bloating. Stir in some melon or bananas for the ultimate bloat-reducing snack.
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You might not buy the root on the reg, but fresh ginger can come in handy when you're sidelined with tummy trouble. "It helps with any of the GI issues—bloating, nausea, digestive issues, gas, any of those," says Ashvini Mashru, R.D. According to researchers, ginger's gingerols and shogals make it a carminative, which means it helps the stomach release gas. Even just 1/2 teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger should help with bloating, Mashru says. Boil it with tea leaves, strain it, and sip your way to a less puffy stomach.
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Asparagus is a natural diuretic thanks to an amino acid called asparagine, says Cara Harbstreet, R.D., of Street Smart Nutrition. Diuretics make you pee more often, so you'll be trading those bloated feelings for odd-smelling asparagus pee, but we say it's worth it. There's no rule on exactly how much you need to eat to reap the benefits of this food that helps with bloating, so start by adding a serving of asparagus to your lunch and dinner. "Try grilling asparagus at your next cookout, or roasting it with other veggies on a sheet pan," Harbstreet suggests. Then, chop the spears into one-inch pieces and pile them onto your salad or into your grain bowl. (Or try these asparagus recipes for every meal of the day.)
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Potassium found in bananas regulates your body's hydration and electrolyte levels, essentially countering the negative effects of overly processed foods. "Sodium retains all of the water in our bodies whereas potassium has the reverse effect," Mashru says. A study published in the journal Anaerobe asked 34 healthy women to eat a banana, drink a banana-flavored drink, or drink water twice a day before a meal. The banana group saw a 50 percent reduction in bloating, way more than the other two groups. (P.S. Here's why you should eat a banana before your next workout.)
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Pineapple contains a digestive enzyme called bromelain, which helps your body break down protein that otherwise could cause stomach issues, Harbstreet says. The stem and core of the fruit have a higher concentration of the enzyme than the outer bites, so try juicing the core and sipping it solo or adding it to your favorite smoothie mix to tap into the debloating benefits, Harbstreet says.
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Tips to Ban Bloat for Good
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To help reduce bloating all day, Grotto and Newgent say to keep these guidelines in mind:
- Keep your sodium intake to a minimum and opt for fresh food over processed. For example, fresh turkey breast will have less sodium than processed, packaged turkey.
- Limit your alcohol intake. When you drink too much you can get dehydrated, which will result in your body pulling in fluid.
- For bloat as a result of constipation, focus on foods that hold water, like wheat bran or all-bran cereal.
- Your lifestyle can affect bloating, so make sure you get enough sleep and get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day to keep fluid moving in your body. If you travel often and sit on a plane or just sit at your desk all day, make sure to move your legs or take a lap around the office every hour.
- If your stomach struggles aren't tamed by these foods that help with bloating—and it's becoming a chronic problem—consult a physician.
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