Yes, it’s true that body composition has a lot to do with your outward appearance. You already know that a healthy diet and proper exercise can go a long way toward boosting muscle content and decreasing overall body fat. However, even if you’re carefully watching what you eat, and consistently challenging yourself at the gym, a flat stomach may still be eluding you.
The truth is, it’s not always about body fat. There could be a more insidious and subtle process at work here: bloating. If your jeans go on without a problem in the morning, but become uncomfortably tight by the afternoon or evening, bloat may be to blame.
Here’s the whole story.
How Does Bloating Happen?
Bloating usually happens in one of two ways: excess gas can build up in your digestive system, causing your midsection to swell in response, or you can suffer from fluid retention which causes an all-over swollen look.
Here are some of the usual culprits when it comes to bloat.
- Fiber-heavy foods – Raw vegetables, beans, multigrain bread, and even fiber supplements are all good for you, but they can sometimes deliver so much fiber to your system at once, that your digestion can’t keep pace. Excess gas builds up, and you get that annoying belly along with uncomfortable pinching or cramping sensations.
- Salty foods – Salt in moderation is fine, and even necessary, but too much all at once can have a bloating effect. Your body may begin retaining water to help process all the extra salt. If the bloating extends beyond your belly, and your hands or feet become swollen, excess salt may be to blame.
- Alcohol consumption – Alcohol is another substance that can cause water retention, as well as slowing down your digestion. This two-pronged attack on your system can lead to all-over swelling, plus an uncomfortable, distended belly.
- Fatty foods – Fats tend to sit in your stomach for longer than other foods. The extra time spent in your system can lead to a buildup of gas, and can slow down
- Sedentary habits – When you sit, your internal organs can become a bit pinched, meaning the digestive process is not progressing as smoothly as it should. This can lead to excessive gas and painful bloating.
- Dehydration – If you’re not getting enough water, your body will try to hold onto the fluids it has to stave off dehydration.
- Carbonated drinks – When you drink a carbonated beverage, you are literally swallowing air along with the liquid. Not all of the air comes out in those belches that can happen after a long sip of soda – some of it gets trapped further down in your gut, causing bloat.
- Health issues – If your bloating issues seem to begin all at once, or if they appear to be severe, definitely check in with your doctor. There are some conditions which can cause bloating, and they need to be addressed by a medical professional.
How Can Bloating Be Cured?
There are a few strategies you can try to combat bloating, and to help flatten your stomach.
Make diet changes gradually – It’s great that you want to eat healthier, but making profound changes to your diet all at once may not give your system the chance to adapt. Try introducing new foods slowly over the course of several days.
- Get moving – You’ll be amazed at how much benefit can be derived from a 20-minute walk. Human beings were made to move, and everything clicks into place when you do – including digestion.
- Drink more water – If dehydration is behind your bloating, this is an easy one to fix.
- Find the culprit – Try eliminating certain foods from your diet, and see if the bloating problem goes away. The cure may simply be a matter of avoiding foods that you have difficulty digesting.
- Soothe the symptoms – Herbal teas make for a great natural bloating remedy. For example, this tea helps promote digestion and reduce gas. Plus, if dehydration is behind your bloating, and plain water seems a little too “blah,” drinking a delicious herbal tea can solve that problem too.
- Probiotics – Efficient digestion is maintained by the good bacteria present in your system. Sometimes, these natural bacteria can get thrown off balance due to illness or medication. Taking probiotic supplements can help get everything back on track.
As always, it’s important to eat healthy and move as much as you can, but if bloating is to blame for a protruding midsection, you really can get rid of it in a day!