Did you overindulge on BBQ, drink one too many cocktails or stay up at a late night summer party? Whatever the cause, bloating can be much worse in the hot summer weather. Legs and feet can swell, faces puff and pants don’t fit. Not exactly a picture of summer fitness and health, is it?
The good news is that we can address summer bloating with natural solutions – including hydrating fluids which actually help reduce water retention. Plus, the abundance of fresh produce this time of year can be a delicious way to reduce inflammation, boost your protection from UV rays, and rejuvenate overall vitality in the hot weather extremes.
Behind the bloat
Bloating and water retention can be related to sodium and potassium imbalances, hormonal activity, overeating, indigestion and gut inflammation, kidney function, genetics or other factors. Overconsumption of salt is often blamed as a major culprit. Too much salt can cause your blood volume to rise, as salt attracts water from cells in an effort to maintain the sodium balance so critical to cellular function.
True, sodium is an important mineral, but most of us consume more than the recommended 1,500-2,300 mg per day. And it’s just as important to choose a mineral rich, unprocessed salt such as Celtic or Himalayan, vs. table salt which is a processed chemical that’s difficult to metabolize properly, leading to extra bloating and fluid imbalances.
To address bloating from overconsumption of salt, drink plenty of filtered water to help flush out the extra salt. Limit salt intake to minimal amounts of mineral rich varieties. Also, increase potassium intake, which will help balance fluid retention and promote circulation. Potassium rich foods include tomatoes, melons, winter squash, sweet and white potato, yogurt, asparagus, bananas.
In the summer, bloating and swelling occur because high heat and humidity can cause blood vessels and capillaries to expand and dilate, allowing more fluid to fill the interstitial spaces between organs and tissues. The end result is bloating and puffiness. But chronic inflammation, particularly in the digestive tract, is also a major factor — and it gets worse when temperatures rise.
Chronic inflammation can hinder circulation, and vice versa since poor circulation creates stagnant areas of toxins and metabolic wastes that generate more inflammation, swelling and bloating. So we need to address inflammation and circulation at the same time, allowing the body to cool and fluids to flow.
The role of digestion
Since the digestive system is where we usually feel the impacts of bloating and stagnation first, it’s the best place to start addressing these issues. Digestive health is central to our overall wellness, governing nutrition, detoxification, immunity, neurological health, and much more.
To reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, emphasize a diet rich in cleansing, detoxifying and alkalizing vegetables and small amounts of fruits. Recommendations include: celery, dandelion greens, parsley, cilantro, basil, arugula, cucumber, melon, zucchini, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, avocado, broccoli sprouts, peas, sweet potato and squash.
Choose healthy fats from sources like olives, avocados, coconut, flax, chia seeds and walnuts.
Try sprouting legumes like mung bean and garbanzo, to add extra detoxification and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as dairy (unsweetened yogurt is an exception), grains (particularly gluten), sugar and sweeteners, alcohol, processed or non-organic meats, and packaged foods. Drink plenty of filtered water and cooling herbal teas such as mint, hibiscus and lemon balm.
This diet can help decrease summer bloat and ready you for the next step: Join me next week to discuss my easy detox tips that soothe, support and repair.
For more health and wellness information, visit www.drelieaz.org