Feeling Fat? Get Relief from Bloating

First, figure out why you're bloated, then learn how to deflate your stomach and get relief.
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Bloat Culprit: Sluggish Digestion

If you've ever struggled to zip jeans that went on fine just a few days earlier, lived through an uncomfortable episode of gas, or simply felt as if your belly was fuller than it should have been, you know about the battle of the bloat. Bloating is usually caused by either a buildup of gas or fluid retention, both of which can make your stomach feel heavy and distended. Because neither the triggers nor the symptoms are the same for everyone, you need to figure out what's causing your bloating to get relief.

Sluggish Digestion
If your digestive tract seems to take longer than normal to process food, you may feel uncomfortable long after a meal should be out of your system. A good indicator that your transit time is on the slow side? You have a bowel movement less than three times a week.

How to Beat It
A high-fiber diet -- 25 grams per day if you're under 50; 21 grams after that -- can help move food through your body faster. One caution: Raise your fiber intake too quickly and you can actually worsen bloating because many high-fiber foods produce gas. "Increase fiber by three to five grams per week until you reach the recommended amount so your body can adjust," advises Leslie Bonci, RD, director of sports medicine nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. That's equal to one apple, a half cup of baked beans, or a cup of oatmeal.

Eating foods with certain probiotics -- good bacteria naturally found in the digestive tract -- can also jumpstart your digestive system. Lactobacillus acidophilus, for example, helps the body break down food, speeding transit time. An eight-ounce serving of yogurt with live cultures (check the container) has enough acidophilus to give you the benefits. Or take an acidophilus supplement that contains about 1 to 10 billion live cultures.

Continued on page 2:  Bloat Culprit: Your Diet


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