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The Anti-Bloat Diet: Dietary Tips for Reducing Bloating


The Anti-Bloat Diet

Abdominal bloating (ascites in medical jargon) is a condition in which the abdomen appears full and tight. In many cases it is accompanied by abdominal pain or discomfort. Most people experience bloating every once in a while, usually as a result of accumulation of liquids and/or intestinal gas triggered by consumption of certain foods. Indeed, diet plays a key role in the development — as well as prevention — of abdominal bloating. Below, you find a collection of the best anti-bloat diet tips for reducing abdominal bloating and water retention.

Note: In some cases bloating can be a sign of an underlying disease or condition, such as the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), partial bowel obstruction, gastric dumping syndrome, splenic-flexure syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, intestinal parasites, or diverticulosis. Therefore, if you experience unusual or chronic bloating which does not seem to react to dietary changes, it is important to consult a qualified health care provider.


#1:  Cut Back on Salt, Push Up the Potassium Levels

Bananas
The potassium in bananas fights water retention.

Sodium (salt) and potassium play a key role together in maintaining water balance in the body. While sodium attracts fluid into the cells, potassium drives the water molecules out of the cells. In order for the body to maintain an optimal water balance, a relatively high concentration of potassium and a low concentration of sodium are required. However, most diets in Western countries contain much more sodium than recommended by any health authority. Indeed, too high an intake of sodium is probably the most common cause of water retention around the abdominal area (which manifests itself as a bloated belly).

Often enough, excess sodium also results in bloating and puffiness in other parts of the body, such as the face. To combat bloating caused by salty foods, eat plenty of potassium rich foods such as root vegetables and bananas. Of course, it is also advisable to avoid excess salt in the first place. If you feel low-salt food is lacking flavor, try using spices and herbs instead of excessive amounts of salt. Be also aware of the "hidden" salt that is present in many packaged and processed foods, such as commercial cereals, canned vegetables, and frozen meals.


#2:  Eat Plenty of Foods Rich in Vitamin B6

If water retention is the cause of your bloating, here's an excellent diet tip for you: incorporate more foods that are rich in vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) into your anti-bloat diet. Vitamin B6 acts as a natural diuretic which helps eliminate excess water and reduce bloating. Vitamin B6 is found in a wide range of foods, including tuna, bananas, poultry, and fish.


#3:  Identify Food Intolerances and Sensitivities

Bloating may also be caused by food intolerance or sensitivity, which in turn typically results from the absence or lack of specific chemicals or enzymes needed to digest a certain food. What causes a reaction manifesting itself as bloating in someone, however, may not cause a bloated belly in another person. Nevertheless, it is possible to point to some foods that are more likely to cause allergy-related bloating. These foods and food substances include dairy (lactose intolerance), gluten (celiac disease), and fructose (fructose malabsorption). People with food sensitivities have different sensitivity thresholds, which means that some less sensitive people may be able to handle the substance in small to moderate amounts.

An elimination diet can be used to identify which foods and substances a person is sensitive to. This diet involves removing any food or substance that is suspected of causing intolerance from diet for a period of two to four weeks. If, after the elimination period, symptoms have cleared or improved significantly (i.e. reduced bloating), the suspected foods and substances can be re-introduced to the diet, one food or substance at a time (the so-called "challenge" phase of the elimination diet). During this phase, the dieter systematically goes through all the suspected allergens, one by one, by consuming a suspect food or substance several times a day and then returning to the elimination diet for a few days. If symptoms such as bloating re-occur or worsen during these days, the dieter may be allergic to the food or chemical that was re-introduced.



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Further Reading (Offline)
Food Intolerance Bible UK's leading nutritionist Antony J. Haynes has distilled his knowledge into a comprehensive guide designed to tackle health problems caused by food intolerances. The Food Intolerance Bible provides answers to questions like: How healthy is your intestinal ecology? Which foods are likely to cause food intolerance symptoms such as bloating, cramping, rashes, mood swings and chronic fatigue? How to identify and eliminate culprit foods? Which supplements work for which symptoms? To order a copy of Haynes' book, head to Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
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