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If you experience bloating, you’re not alone. Between 10 and 25 percent of healthy people also frequently experience bloating, according to a study published in International Scholarly Research Notices: Gastroenterology. And as you know if you’ve experienced it, a bloated belly can get in the way of both your workouts and daily life.
Feeling bloated can be a result of several things, from constipation or gassiness to retaining fluid or eating too much food. What’s more, up to 75 percent of women feel bloated before and during their period. If you just can’t seem to pinpoint the cause of your bloating, getting checked by a doctor can rule out any potentially serious issues.
Though the causes are individualized — after any larger medical reasons are ruled out — there are several strategies that can help you reduce feelings of bloat.
6 Ways to Beat the Bloat
1) Eat slowly.
Minimize the amount of air you ingest by slowing down when you eat. Don’t talk when eating, and chew each bite at least 15 times to help break down food so it is more easily digested.
2) Be sensitive to salt intake.
Sometimes feeling “puffy” is not due to digestion but rather to hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle that cause water retention. Avoid this feeling by reducing your sodium intake the week before your period and focusing on potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
3) Opt for smaller meals.
Avoid large meals — and the discomfort that can result from them — by eating smaller meals or snacks up to six times per day. Smaller, more frequent meals can also keep you feeling more satisfied, keep your metabolism working consistently throughout the day and stabilize blood sugar level.s
4) Skip sugar-free candies.
Sorbitol and mannitol — sugar-free alcohols found in some gums and candies — are known to cause gastrointestinal problems when consumed in large amounts. One sugar alcohol you may not have to be as worried about is erythritol, which doesn’t cause the same gastrointestinal issues as most other sugar alcohols.
5) Fine-tune fiber.
Getting too little fiber can cause constipation and other health problems. Increasing your fiber intake too much or too quickly, however, also can lead to digestive discomfort. Some fiber-rich foods that are more easily digested and less likely to cause gassiness: carrots, spinach, berries, chia seeds, oats and oatmeal, quinoa and squash.
Physical activity, such as walking or jogging, may alleviate bloating. Keeping a strong core can help, too, because bloating occurs more often in people with weak abdominal muscles.