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Volume III
May 11, 2013

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

BLOATING--It Doesn't Have to Happen!

By Alice Osborne

Bloating-fluid building up between cells in your body-can be caused by poor digestion, or too much sodium, among other things. Food scientists and medical experts say, though, that if you pay attention to what you're eating, you can usually avoid it.

And besides avoiding foods that cause bloating, it's also possible to prevent it by deliberately eating or drinking certain things. Here are 7 TIPS for BLOAT AVOIDANCE that Fitness Magazine suggests:

Water with Lemon:
It might seem sensible to skip sipping on water when you are bloated, when in reality you should be doing the opposite. 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, doctors say. Since lemons are a natural diuretic and a gentle laxative when added to warm water, consuming the liquid can help reduce the amount of salt retained in the body. (NOTE: Make sure you drink from the glass and not through a straw, so you don't take in any extra air.)

This vegetable is a digestive aid; it regulates bowel movements and controls intestinal gas because its chemicals are known to decrease fluid retention. Celery has a high water content with a detoxing system, which helps purge the body of toxins. Other top veggie picks that help reduce fluid retention include cucumber, summer squashes, parsley, and any kind of leafy greens. When it comes to eating vegetables in general, lean toward cooked over raw. They are easier to digest this way because the fiber structure is broken down. Even if the raw vegetables have a high water content, they can facilitate bloating-cooked (lightly steamed) is best if bloating is your nemesis.

While all melons are health-promoting, watermelon is one of the best. And it fits its name: it consists of 92% water. It also has a natural diuretic property and is a great source of potassium. Doctors say the balance between sodium and potassium is important when it comes to controlling bloat. 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.)

Rosemary and Turmeric
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. Try 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. Use the bright yellow spice in a curry dish or to flavor your favorite foods.

Beans and Lentils
Most doctors say the 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. And lentils, with their high amount of fiber, are a good choice for facilitating good digestion. Potassium-rich foods include white beans, soybeans, and lima beans-and they are also the highest-fiber vegetables you can get. Beans are naturally high in both estrogen and protein and can relieve period-induced bloat, also.

If you are sensitive to lactose, it's better to opt for yogurt instead of milk in your next smoothie, especially the kind containing live active cultures. Yogurt is already pre-digested and the milk sugar is broken down, whereas in milk it's not, which can create gas and bloating. The nature of the active cultures lactobacillus and acidophilus found in yogurt can improve symptoms of bloating. Stir in some melon for an ultimate bloat-busting snack!

Sleep and Exercise
Finally, according to Fitness, 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.

So if bloating is something you deal with, watch closely what you're eating so you can nail down the causes. Then eat and drink from the above suggestions-life happens, but bloating doesn't have to! (Linda Pugliese)

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