Here’s how to tackle the build-up of excess water in your body – something that leads to unnecessary bloating.
1. Embrace bitter
Bitter foods can help cut water retention in the body. They stimulate enzyme production and bile flow, leading to better digestion. They also help the liver work at its optimum, which is essential for a detoxed body.
Can’t stand bitter foods? Try this: Begin with green tea (easy to sip), walnuts, eggplants (mildly bitter) and cinnamon (has a sweet-bitter taste). Then progress to using fenugreek seeds and turmeric liberally in your cooking, chewing a few basil leaves every day, and eating karela subzi (or drinking its juice) or bitter greens (rugula, dandelion, radicchio) a few times a week. For the astringent flavour, just incorporate pomegranate, apple, tofu, sprouts, lentils and quinoa more often in your diet.
2. Control your salt intake
Have you noticed how, the morning after you eat salted popcorn, you are puffy-eyed and have stiff, swollen hands and feet? That’s because the kidneys retain fluid in our bodies to make sure that the excess salt is diluted. Our bodies need very little salt and are very good at conserving it, so the lesser salt you eat, the better. Try to stick to a total of one teaspoon of salt a day (that’s about 2,400 mg) over all your meals. Remember that junk and processed foods are loaded with sodium.
Caution: Monitor your salt intake, because if you eat too little of it, your kidneys try to conserve it, partly by reducing urinary output.
3. Help your gut
An efficient digestive system helps prevent bloating, so make sure you have enough good bacteria in your gut. Include probiotics in your diet via kefir, miso soup, home-made pickles, probiotic milk and yoghurts. Or eat fermented vegetables, chutneys, idli, dosa batter, dhokla, appam, and drinks like lassi and kanji. But all those good bugs going into your stomach need to be fed as well, so zero in on wheat, barley, rye, onions, garlic and leeks. And the humble banana is a hero. Research has shown that people who ate a banana twice daily as a pre-meal snack for 60 days experienced a 50 per cent reduction in bloating.
4. Have enough minerals
The body uses a balance of dissolved minerals to help regulate fluids. Here’s what you need every day:
Potassium: Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Fish, meat, pulses, nuts and seeds are also good sources.
Calcium: Drink 250 ml of skimmed milk and eat one small bowl of yoghurt and one serving of tinned fish (or a serving of green leafy vegetables or another cup of yoghurt) a day.
Magnesium: Eat a handful of dry roasted unsalted nuts (preferably almonds), salad (200 gm) and two servings of fruit.
5. Goodbye gas, hello aniseed
Very often it’s gas (not water) that causes bloating. Eat at least one carminative herb per meal. In other words, eat some saunf. Fennel (saunf), chamomile and peppermint tea eliminate gas and bloating by relaxing the gut. Fresh ginger does the same.
6. Try natural diuretics
Several herbal teas have a mild diuretic effect, particularly parsley tea. Brew two teaspoons of dried leaves per cup of boiling water and steep for ten minutes. Drink up to three cups a day.
Try the vitamin cure: Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), and vitamin D help the body to excrete excess fluid. Good sources of vitamin B6 include brown rice, red meat, fresh fruits and low-fat dairy foods. Eat mushrooms, cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds and sweet potatoes for B5, and to score enough D, spend some time in the sun every day without fail.
From HT Brunch, January 3, 2016
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