When it comes to fine wine and good food, I swear by living a balanced life but sometimes I overindulge and wake to a body feeling sluggish and bloated. In those moments I use nutrition and hydration to get my system back on track. Today I’m sharing my favorite ways to counteract inflammation and water retention, plus some tips to keep in mind the next time this happens to you.
“Feeling bloated” describes the puffiness we feel when our bodies are retaining excess water or are inflamed in response to foods or drinks that irritate our system. To counteract that feeling I reach for foods and teas that are known diuretics, anti-inflammatories or probiotics. Below I list my favorites in each of those categories. The absence of acidic or irritant foods like soy, meat, legumes and fruit is what I’ve personally found to best tackle bloat.
Diuretics – These will make you pee more and flush toxins and excess water from your system.
- Artichokes – The leaves are especially good for your liver health and digestion because they promote urination and produce more bile, which helps you break down food more efficiently.
- Asparagus – The amino acid asparagine gives asparagus their color and their diuretic effect. Roast or sauté your asparagus instead of boiling to retain all the awesome nutrients this vegetable has to offer.
- Dandelion greens – Packed with vitamins and iron, this known diuretic supports liver and gallbladder health. These greens are really nice sautéed with asparagus, ginger and some sesame oil.
- Oatmeal – High in B vitamins and potassium, Oatmeal is a good counter balance to a lot of sodium (salt) which can contribute to your water retention. Just make sure to use pure, unsweetened oats. If desired, amp up the potassium with some banana.
Anti-Inflammatories – These foods calm irritation in the stomach, digestive system and respiratory system
- Fresh ginger – Aside from tasting so nice, fresh ginger helps deflate a belly full of gas by acting as a muscle relaxant. I love adding slices into a veggie sauté, adding it to a turmeric lemon tonic, or making fresh ginger lemon tea.
- Lemon – Despite their sour taste, lemons are said to have have an alkalizing effect on the body, which is a good counter to a weekend of eating rich foods. I add fresh lemon to my water and ginger tea on bloated days.
- Mint – Studies cite mint as an effective way to reduce heartburn and stomach aches, gas and spasms because it helps soothe tense, aggravated muscles. I eat mint raw after meals, or add it to my water and smoothies on bloated days.
- Turmeric – Adding 1/2 tsp into your tea or food will ease bodily inflammation thanks to the plant’s high concentration of curcumin – which is a strong, natural way to lower levels of pro-inflammatory proteins in our bodies.
Probiotics – These items can help settle your gut by restoring the balance of good/bad bacteria, but consume small amounts when bloated because they can can become more irritating if you have large quantities.
- Plain Greek Yogurt, unsweetened Keifer or Skyr – Rich with protein and active cultures, these options are better than dairy milk which is naturally high in sugar and can create more bloating as the sugar is broken down during digestion. Yogurt is the first thing I reach for on mornings when I wake up feeling the dreaded bloat.
- Kimichi – Viewed by some as the ultimate probiotic, Kimchi gets straight to the point. It’s loaded with vitamins A, B, and C and lactobacilli – a healthy bacteria culture that develops during fermentation. I like to enjoy kimchi with plain rice or atop your sautéed asparagus and dandelion greens.
- Kombucha – Opt for a brand with low sugar (no more than 4g per serving) and limit your serving size to no more than 8oz. In larger quantities, the effervescence of the drink can make you feel more gassy.
- Chew your food very thoroughly to make the digestion process easier on your tummy!
- Avoid: legumes and fibrous greens like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts because they will make you even more gassy; sparkling water – the carbonation just adds more bubbles to an already temperamental situation; coffee because it’s super acidic, and; booze – your liver is dealing with enough.
- Drink lots of water. The hydration is important while consuming foods with diuretic effects and helps your skin bounce back to radiance.
- Move your body – talk a walk!
- Be patient, it can take 2 full days for your body to get back to normal.
Images by HonestlyFIT