Avoid belly bloat this summer
[6 MIN READ]
In this article:
Foods and drinks that trigger bloating include cocktails, bubbly beverages, ice cream, and high-sodium foods.
During the summer, dehydration can contribute to bloating problems.
You can find relief for bloating through medication, taking a walk, massaging your belly — anything that gets the gas moving through your system.
It’s ironic that the time of year when you may want to show more skin — summer — is also the season in which you are most likely to experience belly bloating. During the hot summer days, you may become dehydrated, triggering your body to keep hold of what it has left and causing water retention. There are also plenty of foods and drinks that can cause gas to build up in your intestines. So, instead of sitting by the pool enjoying a fruity drink and snack, you find yourself in the bathroom, desperate to find relief from your discomfort.
Here, we offer a guide to what may be causing your bloating — and what you can do to fight back.
Foods and drinks that trigger bloating
Not sure why you’re experiencing so much gas? Take a look at these foods and drinks that commonly cause bloating. You may want to consider cutting back on them.
- Cocktails. Alcohol has a diuretic effect, meaning it can cause you to pass more urine, which can lead to dehydration and water retention, followed by the dreaded bloating. Alcohol also has an inflammatory effect on the body, which tends to make the body swell. Hoping to bypass the sugar by drinking a “skinny” version of a mixed drink? Calorie-cutting artificial sweeteners may only add to the bloated feeling. Sorbitol, a sweetener used in some drinks, can be hard for the body to absorb — and that leads to bloating.
- Ice cream. Ice cream is full of fructose, which isn’t always easily absorbed in the body and instead travels to the colon. There, bacteria ferment the fructose, which releases gases that cause bloating. The other culprit is dairy lactose, which is hard for many people to digest and may cause bloating, gas, and overall discomfort.
- Bubbly beverages. The sparkling water, seltzer, and sodas you find so refreshing contain a lot of fizzy bubbles that may get trapped in your belly. That causes a buildup of air, which brings on the bloat. Gas blended with water in a carbonated beverage can make your stomach “puff out.”
- High-sodium and high-fiber foods. In a recent study, researchers found that a high-fiber diet may raise the risk of bloating by about 41%, compared with a lower-fiber diet. Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate, which causes gas to form. The study also found that high-sodium diets can raise the chance of bloating by about 27% compared with a low-sodium diet. More research is needed to learn why sodium causes bloating, but studies suggest that sodium causes water retention, which may be a factor.
Dehydration: Your worst enemy
As we mentioned previously, dehydration (or a loss of fluids in your body) can cause you to retain water, which then triggers bloating. So what, exactly, causes dehydration? You can become dehydrated when you:
- Get too much sun or a lot of exposure to heat.
- Drink too much alcohol.
- Eat salty snacks.
When you're in the sun too long, your body starts retaining water as a safety measure. Think of it as a form of self-defense, since your body doesn’t know when it will have its next intake of fluid. Yet even as your body is conserving water, the retention is what may also cause you to feel bloated.
It’s important to note that serious illness can result from being dehydrated. You should get help right away if you have one or more of these symptoms after being in the sun too long or you haven’t been staying hydrated:
- Intense thirst
- Dark yellow, strong-smelling urine
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
- Dry mouth, lips, and eyes
- Urinating no more than four times a day
Here are a few tips on healthy hydration.
Say goodbye to bloating
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you just can’t keep the bloat from plaguing you. There are many ways you can combat bloating, including:
- Trying gas relief capsules. Anti-gas medication can move extra air out of your digestive tract.
- Taking a warm bath. There are two benefits to this method: The heat of the bath can relieve your sore abdomen, and the general relaxation a bath provides can help your gastrointestinal tract function better.
- Replacing sodas with water. You may love the jolt of caffeine you get from soda, but if your belly is suffering, it’s a good idea to switch to good old water for a while.
- Going for a walk. Physical activity gets your bowels moving and allows you to work the gas out of your body.
- Using peppermint capsules. Peppermint relaxes the intestinal muscles, allowing gas to work its way out of the system.
- Massaging your abdomen. When you massage in the path of your large intestine, you can get your bowels moving and relieve some of the bloating pressure. However, don’t continue massaging if it is causing you any pain.
- Eating more fiber. If you choose to increase your fiber intake, do so over the course of several days. When you eat too much fiber in a day, that can actually cause even more bloating.
Talk to your doctor if bloating seems to be your constant companion this summer. Together, you can rule out any serious causes of bloating such as celiac disease, infection, or irritable bowel syndrome.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.