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Enhance your digestion to keep bloating at bay for good

Breaking down your food efficiently is essential to ensure nutrients are absorbed, elimination is complete and bloating is banished for good. The following tips will get your digestion firing and your stomach flat in time for summer.

1.     Hydrate

A well-hydrated body is less likely to retain fluid, so drinking more water actually eases water retention and bloating. Water also keeps everything moving through the digestive tract to keep metabolism functioning efficiently. Aim for at least 2 litres a day, more if you are very active.

2.    Relax

In stressful times, blood and energy are directed away from the digestive tract to fuel the brain and muscles. Achieving a relaxed state regularly throughout the day is essential for good digestion. Inadequate rest and long-term stress will also cause an increase of the hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels signal your body to store fat, especially around the mid-section. This makes weight loss difficult, even if you are exercising and eating a healthy diet.

3.    Cut down on your drinking

Moderate to heavy drinking leaves you dehydrated signaling to your body to hold onto fluid, leaving you with that bloated, puffy look. Keep to two standard drinks, have at least three alcohol-free days a week and avoid sugary mixers.

4.    Look after your gut flora  

The health of your microbiome is intrinsically linked to the health of the rest of your body. Too much bad bacteria can cause a sluggish digestion, weight gain and bloating. Load up on the good guys by eating fermented foods or taking a probiotic supplement.

5.    Fill up on fibre  

Food cannot move through your digestive tract efficiently without adequate fibre to speed up the transit time.

6.    Activate your nuts and seeds

Raw nuts and seeds are hard work on the digestive system. During activation, an enzyme inhibitor is broken down that allows the nutrients to be more easily digested and absorbed.

7.    Eat mindfully

Be present when you eat, this means sitting down and not multitasking. Always chew thoroughly as chewing signals to the rest of the digestive tract that its time to get to work. Watch your portion size; never eat to a full stomach.

8.    Stimulate digestive juices

The digestive juices contain hydrochloric acid and enzymes essential for the proper breakdown of food. Take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a small amount of water before eating or use it as a salad dressing; eat bitter foods such as grapefruit, endive or radicchio and start the day with lemon in warm water.

9.    Know your sensitivities

If you’re not digesting a particular food properly, it may be the cause of your bloating and gas. If you think you might be reacting to something you’re eating, identify what it is by eliminating possible causes one at a time for a period of two weeks each without changing anything else in your diet. Speak to a nutritionist or naturopath to ensure your diet is still balanced once you have removed your trigger food, with a goal to reintroduce it back into your diet in the future. 

10. Step away from salt  

If you’re feeling bloated and puffy, the hidden salt lurking in processed food may be the culprit. Salt is a vital electrolyte but if you are having too much, it will cause you to retain water. Avoid packaged foods, sauces and additives. When seasoning with salt, ditch refined table salt in favour of a mineral rich celtic sea salt.

* If bloating is painful and affecting your daily functioning, see your doctor to rule out any possible pathological causes