Tips To Avoid Bloating This Summer
Summer, the sunshine and the warmer weather can do wonders for the body. However, the social summer season can also lead to more uncomfortable gut symptoms, leaving us feeling groggy, bloated and less than fresh.
Read on to discover some of my top tips to avoid bloating this summer, to get you back to feeling your best…
CHOOSE YOUR BOOZE
Summer season is here, and we’re all about drinking and dining al fresco. However, be mindful when it comes to your cocktail hour tipple of choice. Alcohol has a diuretic effect, meaning it can cause you to pass more urine, resulting in dehydration and increased water retention.
Following this comes the BLOAT. Alcohol has the tendency to make the body swell…. waking up puffy the morning after? We’ve all been there… and those diet drinks could also be to blame. Diet mixers are ladened with artificial sweeteners, which can only add to your risk of bloating – sweeteners can trigger IBS like issues as they are difficult to digest.
Another thing which can cramp your style when out and about for summer drinks, is an allergic reaction. Booze, especially red wine, is rich in histamine and FODMAPs, which can often cause reactions.
This is down to our immune system being able to detect histamine and FODMAPs as a threat to the body, so it launches its defence mechanism to fight off the perceived allergen. Often, this involves increased blood flow to parts of the body impacted by the allergen, which results in inflammation and common reactions which can show up as bloating, abdominal cramping and other digestive issues.
One glass of red wine (150ml) is considered low FODMAP, however larger servings of red wine can result in moderate amounts of fructose. Therefore, it is recommended to limit consumption to 1 glass if you know you are sensitive to FODMAPs.
Stick to clear spirits and mixers such as soda or sparkling water. And be wary of tonic, as after a few G&T’s that sugar content can creep up.
LOWER THE SALT
Summer salty foods…don’t get me wrong, we are all about a dabble of soy sauce or tamari with our sushi in the sunshine here at Clarissa Lenherr Nutrition, but, just be aware that salt can lead to water retention!
High sodium diets can increase our chances of bloating by around 27% (1). Eating foods high in salt can promote water retention, making digestion less efficient, and potentially even resulting in gas and bloating.
Opt for whole, unprocessed foods and avoid overly processed packaged foods as these are often ladened with salt. Smoked meats and fish are a good example here, and tend to be high in sodium. Smoked salmon can have as much as 83% of your recommended daily intake of salt per 100g, so opting for salmon in its whole, the natural form is best.
Use spices and herbs to flavour your food without relying on table salt. Onion powder, paprika, cumin and garlic powder are some of my favourite spices to use to jazz up veggies or protein.
Allowing your digestive system to have a break of 12-14 hours can prevent bloating and help to give your system a rest. Aim to finish eating 2-3 hours before bed so your body has time to digest your dinner before sleeping, and fast until the next morning when you have your breakfast. This can also help reduce bloating, as it gives your Migrating Motor Complex (MMC) time to do its job – breaking down food and getting it ready for excretion.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Exercise may not be a cure for your bloat, but getting the body moving and blood pumping can help to alleviate some of the pain and potentially trapped gas – letting go in a downward dog is more common thank you think! If yoga isn’t your thing, try a long walk, pilates class or a dance class.
If you only have 5 minutes to feel better, trying some cat-cow stretches can help with digestion and bloat by stretching and compressing your intestines to promote movement. Repeat 6 times for a total of 2 minutes.
AVOID THESE COMMON FOOD TRIGGERS
Bloating can often flare up due to the consumption of certain foods, some of the main culprits when it comes to bloating include:
- Beans- high in fibre which can contribute to the bloat and they also contain sugars known as alpha-galactosides, a common FODMAP. These FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates which escape digestion and are fermented by our gut bacteria in the colon, producing excess gas and bloating.
- Fizzy drinks- Contain high volumes of the gas carbon dioxide, which ends up in our digestive system when we slurp down fizzy drinks. Some of this gas can get trapped which can cause cramping and uncomfortable bloating.
- Cruciferous veggies- These include cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts and broccoli, which are some of the most nutritious veggies available. However, they also contain FODMAPs so can trigger bloating in some individuals. Aim to consume them crooked as they are easier to digest.
- Onions- Although onions are often consumed in smaller quantities, they are one of the main dietary sources of fructans. Fructans are a type of soluble fibre that can cause bloating.
- Sugar alcohols- Often used in sugar free foods and chewing gum, the most common are xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol. Sugar alcohols come under FODMAPs so consuming large volumes of them may contribute to digestive bloating.
Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water can help reduce your risk of bloating. Many of us are more dehydrated than we think, and this is exacerbated when summer comes around.
And yes, tea and coffee can count towards your daily water intake, but during the summer months, we shouldn’t rely on caffeinated beverages for our hydration needs.
If sparkling water is your h2O of choice, it may be worth thinking again. Sparkling water is infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure, this creates those fizzy bubbles.
These gas bubbles can get stuck in your belly, causing uncomfortable trapped gas and bloat in some individuals.
Aim for a minimum of two litres of still, filtered water a day, and spice it up with 1tbsp of chia seeds, ½ the juice of a fresh lemon and some blueberries for the ultimate summer thirst quencher.