Nothing can more negatively impact the way you feel about your appearance than bloating. Women feel bloated for two reasons: gas and water retention. Fluctuating hormones play a major role in water retention. The hormone aldosterone reaches higher levels before menstruation, which makes you retain salt and water.
Here’s what you can do to reduce bloating:
- Reduce Sodium: Too much sodium is a source of bloating and evening swelling in certain parts of the body. People consume excess amounts of sodium when they eat fast or frozen foods. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum intake of 1500-2300 mg a day. This is a difficult goal to reach when just 1 teaspoon of salt is 2400 mg. Tip: Ditch carbonated beverages and processed foods to help you reach healthier levels of sodium consumption. As you decrease your sodium intake, you decrease your desire for salt.
- Increase Fiber: Many people make the mistake of thinking that fiber-rich foods can cause gas and bloating, but they can actually help over time. Fiber helps foods move more quickly and efficiently through the gastrointestinal tract. When you’re going to the bathroom more often, you feel thinner and lighter. Fiber also soaks up water. The more water in your bowel movements, the less bloated you will feel. Aim for 25-35 grams a day (most Americans only get 10 grams). Tip: Beans are a common bloating culprit. Try hummus instead, which is easier for the body to digest.
- More Magnesium: The National Institutes of Health say we’re not getting enough magnesium, which comes from foods like green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. Magnesium is important in over 300 biochemical reactions in our body, including metabolizing food and energy. If you feel bloated during your menstrual cycle, taking 200 mg of magnesium daily has been shown to reduce symptoms of fluid retention.
Remember that looking and feeling good go hand in hand. It has just as much to do with what’s going on on the inside as it does with what's going on on the outside. Add 10,000 steps a day to this plan and get closer to feeling better with no clothes on.
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