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How To Counteract Bloating

Top tips to counteract bloating include:

  • Drink, drink, drink - water that is.  The more water you drink, ironically, the more water will be flushed through your system.
  • Grapefruit juice (6 oz per day) is also a "natural" diuretic which many women report helps control bloating.
  • Avoid alcohol, especially in the evening.
  • Eat, eat, eat fruits and veggies, as well as high fiber foods.  These foods also "flush out your system".  Whereas carbs absorb water, these foods contain water.
  • Move, move, move - exercise gets everything moving.  Exercise also increases body temperature causing the body's metabolic rate to increase.  And it also helps "flush out your system".
  • Get an adequate calcium intake - studies show that women who aren't getting enough calcium are more likely to experience bloating than women who do. How much do you need?  1,200 mg/day if you're premenopausal; 1,500 mg/day if you have passed menopause.  For most women, this means they should use supplements to get what they're not getting in their diet.
  • Find out if you're lactose intolerant - if so, avoid milk and other dairy products, which will cause bloating and other problems.  But be sure to get your calcium in supplements.
  • Some doctors think magnesium deficiency may also contribute to bloating.   The amount of magnesium contained in a multivitamin is generally enough.  For women who need more magnesium to combat bloating or to boost their metabolism, a dose of 400 to 800 mg/day for the second half of your cycle is recommended.
  • Vitamin B6 supplements can help with many of the symptoms of PMS, including bloating:  the recommended dose is 200 to 250 mg/day in the second half of the menstrual cycle.
  • Control salt/sodium intake:  passing on the saltshaker at the table and in the kitchen is an important first step, but many prepared foods and beverages have more sodium than you'd think.  Read the labels.  Avoid cured, smoked and processed meats, as well as highly seasoned foods and soy sauce (which has 920 mg of sodium per tablespoon!).
  • Diuretics:  I do not recommend the use of over-the-counter diuretics unless recommended by your physician.
  • Stay regular:  many women experience bloating along with constipation.   While increasing dietary fiber, water intake, and exercise will all help this as well; sometimes a gentle laxative is necessary and can provide great relief.  Several herbal teas can provide similar relief, such as peppermint or ginger tea.

If your bloating is continuous, and not just associated with your menstrual cycle, discuss this with your physician, especially if you notice other symptoms such as constipation, pain, or increased abdominal girth.  In those cases, you will need to be evaluated for more serious causes of bloating.

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Created: 2/14/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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