You’ve been eating right and working on sculpting your side abs for weeks. But for some reason, you woke up this morning feeling bloated AF. (It happens to this best of us, just check out this fit blogger’s pics.) Whether the culprit is dehydration, your menstrual cycle, or something you ate, the good news is that you can set your body straight by loading up on these eight nutritionist-backed noms.
Time to whip out the hot sauce! Spicing up your dinner with something fiery can work wonders for your pooch. “The capsaicin in cayenne pepper reduces gas and bloating because it increases the flow of digestive enzymes through your intestines,” says Dr Kristin Kirkpatrick, wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in the US. Capsaicin also kills the bad bacteria in our bellies that causes gas and bloating.
“Yoghurt is packed with probiotics—good bacteria that helps your gastrointestinal system digest and absorb food appropriately,” says Tara Coleman, a clinical nutritionist in San Diego. Instead of having a sugary dessert post-dinner, try mixing fresh fruit, like blueberries or grapefruit slices, into non-fat yoghurt. It has a fraction of the calories and is full of nutrients that will help lengthen you out as you sleep. “Skip the sugary fruit yoghurts if you can and buy plain,” says Kirkpatrick.
One of the oldest herbal medicines around, ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties work wonders on bloat. “Ginger contains a digestive enzyme called zingibain, which helps the body break down protein,” says Coleman. “This is one of the reasons sushi is typically served with a whole side of it." The best way to enjoy it is by making a warm cup of homemade ginger tea. Sipping it before, during, or after a meal will help your body stimulate saliva, bile, and gastric juices that aid in digestion. “It also has a nice relaxing effect on your intestines, reducing inflammation in your colon, which will help the food you eat pass through your system more easily, and in turn, reduce the bloat and gas you experience,” says Kirkpatrick.
Just like ginger, chewing on a small amount of this all-natural herb (half a teaspoon) has been a remedy for gas, bloating, and breath freshening in Eastern India for thousands of years. “The compounds anethole, fenchone, and estragole in fennel seeds have antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties that relax intestinal muscle and allow trapped gas to dissipate,” says Coleman. While you can certainly sip it in a cup of tea, fennel is a great ingredient in various dishes from dinner to dessert.
Bad breath might be worth it to beat bloat. “Eating garlic with other foods, especially those high in sodium, can cause bloating, but eating it alone will actually help relieve gas,” says Coleman. “Garlic soup is super easy to make and it helps deliver the garlic directly to your system in no time.” Simply mince up two to three cloves and sauté or roast them with olive oil on low heat. Add low-sodium vegetable broth and let it simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
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They’re one of the most low-maintenance eats around—and they also happen to contain some of the highest levels of potassium, a go-to nutrient for belly-flattening. “Potassium is the reason your bloat may go away with banana consumption, and this mineral also helps to regulate your body’s sodium intake,” says Kirkpartrick.
Don’t let their sweet and satisfying taste fool you—melons are nearly all water (90 percent!). “The high water content in melons (as well as watermelons and cucumbers) is equivalent to having water from a glass, thus increasing your body’s overall hydration levels and reducing bloating,” says Kirkpatrick. “They’re also natural diuretics, so they help you urinate excess water and salt from your body.” Fill up on a colorful mix of various melons to help prep and hydrate your bod for sunny beach days ahead.
LEMONS AND LEMON JUICE
Yep, the old lemon water trick actually works. “The atomic composition of lemon juice is very comparable to our stomach’s digestive juice, as well as saliva and bile, so it actually helps relieve symptoms of indigestion such as bloating and belching,” says Coleman. “Many people with digestive issues are simply not yielding enough hydrochloric acid to properly digest everything they’re putting in their bodies, particularly animal proteins, dairy, gluten, and complex carbohydrates.” By drinking lemon juice on the reg, your helping your body move things along faster and more efficiently. Time to practice your sour face!