Summer bathing suit season is here, and this time of year we want to look and feel our best—which means good digestion and no bloating.
Marissa Vicario, author of “Your Holistically Hot Transformation: Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle Free of Dieting, Confusion and Self-Judgment,” offers some tips for a happy, flatter(ing) tummy.
Epoch Times: Are there any misconceptions you find people have about bloating?
Marissa Vicario: I think a lot of people confuse bloating with weight gain. They can be related, but they’re two different issues. I also see many people looking for a quick-fix to bloating, for example, eliminating certain foods or eating more of another food to make it “go away,” when it’s not that cut-and-dried.
Our bodies are intricate, and there can be any number of related possibilities that cause any one symptom. If you’re chronically bloated, it’s a sign of an imbalance that needs to be explored further.
Epoch Times: If someone feels chronically bloated, what is a good way to start exploring the cause of the imbalance?
Ms. Vicario: If someone feels chronically bloated, they should reach out to a health coach or a health care professional to explore the cause.
Epoch Times: What foods commonly cause bloating?
Ms. Vicario: Any food can cause or intensify bloating if it’s not a food that your body agrees with. Some of the most common culprits are excess sodium, sugar and artificial sweeteners, soda, additives and emulsifiers like carrageenan, and for some people, gluten or dairy.
Epoch Times: What are some of the sneaky ways these bloat-causing foods end up in our diets?
Ms. Vicario: The most common way is via packaged and prepared foods. It’s really important to read ingredient lists on anything packaged, and cook at home more often than you dine out. You can never truly know what goes in your food at a restaurant.
Epoch Times: What can we replace bloat-causing foods with?
Ms. Vicario: Start with eating more whole foods, especially lots of fiber-rich vegetables like leafy greens. I’m not a big fan of sweeteners in general, but if you’re trying to cut back on sugar and just starting out, replace artificial sweeteners or sugar with natural sweeteners like stevia, brown rice syrup, or honey.
Replace table salt with sea salt, which has the nutrients your body needs to control fluid balance, blood pressure, and nerve and muscle function (table salt is stripped of these nutrients). And you don’t need to use as much to impart great flavor in your food.
Epoch Times: How can you tell which foods are causing your bloat?
Ms. Vicario: One of the most effective ways is with an elimination diet guided by a health coach or professional. You eliminate foods like sugar, caffeine, gluten, and dairy for a period of time. Then slowly add them back into your diet one by one to observe how your body responds.
Epoch Times: Can gluten be part of a bloat-free diet?
Ms. Vicario: It can be if your body agrees with it; however, I recommend choosing the least-processed sources of gluten, for example, homemade breads or gluten-containing whole grains like couscous or barley.
Epoch Times: What foods can help ease bloating?
Ms. Vicario: Fermented foods—fermented vegetables, kefir (fermented milk), or coconut kefir (fermented coconut water)—are all good examples and contain good bacteria that your body needs for healthy digestion.
Gelatin contained in bone broth also helps support digestion, and fiber-rich foods like chlorella (a fresh-water algae) or chia seeds are good for the intestinal lining and can keep you regular.
Epoch Times: What are some common non-food causes of bloating?
Ms. Vicario: Most people experience bloating because of an imbalance in the bacteria that live in the gut. Anything can cause that imbalance. An improper diet first and foremost, but also stress, antibiotics and other medications, and also the natural process of aging.
Epoch Times: What exercises help with bloating?
Ms. Vicario: Yoga can help ease bloating in some cases. The twists and stretching help with circulation and keep the digestive system active.
Epoch Times: What about teas?
Ms. Vicario: Certain herbal teas can help ease bloat and indigestion. Try peppermint, licorice root, or dandelion root tea, which is also detoxifying.
Epoch Times: Can you share a favorite seasonal bloat-busting recipe?
Ms. Vicario: These recipes are good ones.