No matter how hard we diet and how successful we become in losing the stubborn inches, how come we still can’t control the feeling of being bloated? And why does it always have to happen at the most inconvenient times? Like tonight. Girls night out. Sexy outfit. There is just no room for bloating…. And I mean that quite literally.

Except, nobody gave bloating heads up to come another day.

So this time, I finally decided to do a little bit of research on what causes bloating and how to get rid of it.

“Bloating really just means that a person feels abdominal gas,” notes Lin Chang, MD, of the UCLACURE Neurenteric Disease Program. “The feeling of being bloated can come from several possibilities. The first is that you just produce more gas; that’s usually dietary. The second is that the transit time, or the time it takes for gas to go through the intestine, is slowed. The third is an enhanced sensitivity or perception to gas: You don’t necessarily have more gas, but your perception of it is more bothersome and increased.” – Muscle & Fitness

So what causes that uncomfortable feeling of bloating?

Coffee, chocolate, tea, cocoa, cola and sodas. Although caffeine plays a role in weight loss by stimulating the body as a whole and enhancing fat metabolism, caffeine’s effect on the body sometimes triggers factors that are associated with weight gain. For instance, caffeine intake induces stress and the production of cortisol that leads to the deposition of excess fat in the abdomen.

Sorbitol is a sweet tasting sugar alcohol that naturally occurs in fruits such as pears and prunes. First marketed to the diabetic society, sugar free foods have gained popularity with the masses as a healthy substitute, not to mention fewer calories, to sugar-rich products – diet beverages, Sweet ‘N Low, low fat and sugar substitute baking ingredients, candies, syrup, jubes, mints, breath fresheners, chewing gum, soft drinks, diet yoghurt, and even teeth whitener gum. It only takes 10g of this stuff to make you feel bloated because it is poorly absorbed by the body. It acts as a platform for the fermentation of bacteria that causes hydrogen gas to be produced in the small intestine. The worse part of it is, aside from the tell-tale sign of “sugar free” on the product label, sorbitol is not required to be disclosed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the nutritional label.

Cruciferous vegetables and beans are notorious for their gas inducing qualities. Unfortunately, along with the bad, you’ve got to take into consideration all the good things they do – fight cancer, nutrition dense with vitamins, dietary fibre, and the list goes on…. Cruciferous vegetables are usually included in our daily diets – lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts. Experts suggest that eliminating these foods from your diet is ill advised and must be included at least three times a week. More examples – broccoli, beets, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chicory, corn, cucumber, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsley, parsnips, sweet green pepper, pumpkin, salsify, spinach, squash, grains and cereals, amaranth, legumes, adzuki beans, alfalfa, black-eyed peas, black mung beans, broad beans, chickpeas, common beans, cow peas, field beans, garden peas, green beans, green mung beans, horse gram, lentils, lima beans, lupins, mung beans, peanuts, pigeon peas, pole beans, red kidney beans, split peas, soybeans, soy flour, winged beans, arugula, watercress, bok Choy, turnip greens, mustard greens, and collard Greens, rutabaga, daikon, horseradish, radishes, turnips, kale.

Soda pop, spritzer, bottled water, fruit juice. Carbon dioxide trapped in the bubbles of carbonated and fizzy beverages creates gas that can slow down stomach emptying and cause increased bloating. Carbonated beverages can also be high in sodium, doubling the bloating issue.

Even though sodium is essential for regulating specific body functions, just a small amount of excess sodium can cause bloating. It clogs the mechanism that pushes water out of your cells which then hold on to the extra water and enlarge. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum daily intake of 2,400 milligrams of sodium daily – an equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of table salt: 5 1/2 teaspoons of barbecue sauce, 2 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce, 6 beef jerky, and 17 tablespoons of salsa. That’s enough sodium to replenish your supply even if you work up a major sweat. Making smart decision on reducing sodium on your diet starts with choosing fresh, natural foods over fast, commercial or packaged foods.

There is just too many reasons why you should avoid alcohol – raised levels of cortisol (steers fat towards your tummy), increased insulin which increases appetite and is a big culprit behind yeast-related symptoms such as water retention. Alcohol can slow your fat metabolism by about 30% and prevents body fat from being burned. “Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that for several hours after having two drinks of vodka, whole body lipid oxidation (a measure of how much fat the body is burning) dropped 73% … which puts the brakes on fat loss.” –

Fruits are a common cause of intestinal gas because of their nutrient makeup. Individuals differ in their capacity to metabolize fructose (the main carbohydrate in fruit) and if you exceed your body’s ability, the excess fructose remains in your large intestine where it ferments and creates gas. This causes you to feel bloated. Fruits that are considered least kind to your intestines are apricot, plums, prunes, pears, sweet cherries, peaches, apples, dried fruits and their juices.

Lactose is the most common carbohydrate implicated in gas production and is often the cause of bloating on most people. This occurs when your body has reduced amounts of lactase, an enzyme that is needed to breakdown lactose. The fermentation of undigested carbohydrates (sugar) leads to gas production. Lactose is commonly found in dairy products (especially cow’s milk) and protein powder supplements (milk protein and egg source).

Some people believe that they feel better and less puffy when they eat less wheat. Wheat is one of the seven top allergens and intolerance to it can be difficult to diagnose. Excluding wheat or gluten from your diet is the most effective way to diagnose intolerance. It contains more gluten than other grains and is difficult for your digestive system to digest, leaving you feel bloated. Foods to avoid – wheat, rye, oats, barley, white flour, bread, pasta, pizza, biscuits, muffins, cakes, crumpets, sausages, barley, corn, millet, oat bran, oat flour, rice bran, rye, sorghum, grain, wheat bran, whole wheat flour, nuts and seeds, cottonseed flour, pistachios, sesame flour, sunflower flour.

Drinking – avoid using straw, drinking from a sports bottle, very hot or cold beverages, and drinking from a water fountain.

Swallowing air that can cause gas – avoid chewing gum, sucking on candy, talking while eating, smoking, chewing tobacco, deep sighing.

And most of all, never eat when you are upset and avoid tight fitting clothes – definitely good rules to live by :)

Bloating could be a sign of more severe problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Liver Disease, just to name a few. Always get a medical professional’s advice if you experience bloating all the time because you could end up complicating the problem more by self-diagnosing yourself. The same also applies before you start cutting out essential food groups such as vegetable and milk products from your diet because you’ve diagnosed yourself with intolerance issues.

copyright 2007 The Bikini Body Diet

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