Best Ways to Beat the Bloat

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Do you ever feel like someone should attach strings to you and float you along Central Park toward Macy’s? Bloating affects all of us. Sometimes, it’s worth the discomfort, but often it’s just unpleasant and embarrassing. You can beat the bloat, however, by avoiding things that cause you to retain water, swallow air or produce excessive stomach acid.

5 Avoid Gassiness

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Sometimes, you may simply bloat up because there’s too much air in your digestive system. Gassy foods, such as cabbage, onions, broccoli, beans and cauliflower, can turn your stomach into a veritable whoopee cushion. Chewing gum and drinking carbonated beverages also make you swallow more air than you realize, as do drinking with a straw, eating too quickly and smoking. Slow down, chew your food carefully and avoid these gas-producing substances. Additionally, read labels on sugarless products and avoid anything that contains the artificial sweeteners sorbitol, mannitol or xylitol, as they can cause gassiness, according to the National Institutes of Health.

4 No Fried Stuff

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When you eat complex carbohydrates, such as fresh fruit, vegetables, oats, brown rice or whole-grain breads and pasta, your body uses the calories quickly. Then it uses protein a bit more gradually. But any fat in your meal lingers in your GI tract, creating a lasting heaviness in your midsection. Fried food will not only make you feel bloated temporarily, but its excessive calories can cause lasting weight gain, especially if the fat is saturated. Although vegetable-based oils give you healthy fat, opt for broiled or baked food when possible to avoid bloating.

3 Go Mild

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Spicy foods, such as Mexican, high-garlic Italian, barbecued food or wasabi, can cause bloating. When you eat them, your stomach has to produce extra stomach acid to break them down and protect itself from the heat. This can cause irritation and swelling in your intestinal tract. Although it’s different from water retention, gastrointestinal inflammation can make it just as difficult to keep your buttons from bursting. The same goes for highly acidic food. Fruit punch, citrus dishes, soda, beer and coffee can also tell your stomach to go nuclear. Drink water.

2 Drink Ginger Water

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Some people eat ginger snaps for upset stomach. Ginger may calm your gastrointestinal tract, but if you want to reduce bloating, it’s better to pass up the salt and fat in cookies and use straight ginger. Fresh ginger root promotes a quicker emptying of your stomach, according to researchers who published a study in “World Journal of Gastroenterology” in 2011, who found that people with indigestion who took ginger experienced their unpleasant symptoms for a shorter time than people who didn’t. Add an ounce of crushed fresh ginger root to a pitcher of water and keep it in the fridge. If you sip on it all day, it may help your body get rid of stomach acids that cause bloating.

1 Skip the Salt

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If you’re like most Americans, you consume more sodium than your body needs each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To make matters worse, you may not get enough potassium to counter the excess salt, creating a water imbalance. Your body then stores extra water to help it dilute the salt and you remain bloated until the balance is restored. To prevent this, avoid salty food, including fast food, processed food and most restaurant food. Make sure you get enough potassium, as well. Potassium is abundant in many foods, including bananas, potatoes, beans, leafy greens, fish, mushrooms and pomegranates.

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