If you are striving for a flat and fit stomach, it’s time to ease up on those stomach crunches. Your swollen stomach may not be a sign of stubborn fat, but of food sensitivities or other treatable health issues. Natural remedies, from herbs to diet changes, can reduce belly bloat. If you still have fat to contend with after addressing your bloating issues, focus on your core, not just crunches, when it comes to exercising.
If your stomach bloating is a mystery, it's time to solve it. Certified exercise, nutrition and health coach Randi Dukoff recommends removing the big three bloat offenders from your diet temporarily: gluten, dairy and soy. Food sensitivities often cause gastrointestinal issues, with bloating being a common symptom. Keep a food journal to track any changes you notice. Slowly add back foods, one group at a time, and note any signs of bloating you experience. Add probiotics to your regimen; they are designed to restore healthy bacteria to your gut and can eliminate signs of stomach distress like bloating.
Flat Belly Foods
Eat fat. Yes, you read that correctly. Eating monounsaturated fats found in nuts, avocados and olive oil can help your body metabolize fat around your stomach more efficiently. Go whole hog on whole grains, as the high fiber content will not only keep you from being hungry, it also can prevent constipation. If you’re not sure about dairy, try just yogurt. It’s full of probiotics and digests easily. Cut the condiments: Salt and sugar can bloat your stomach and increase belly fat. Carbonated beverages, even healthy ones like sparkling water, can make your stomach bubble up with gas. Try still water with lemon instead.
Conquer Your Core
It’s important to continue exercising as you work on flattening your stomach. The key is doing the right kind of exercise. While stomach crunches, or sit-ups, have been advised traditionally, many fitness experts now recommend more effective exercises. Add planks, bridges and abdominal presses to your workout. Zero in on the butt; a sagging rear can make you bulge in the front as well.
Herbs can help with a bloated belly by reducing water retention and intestinal gas. Try a cup of parsley or dandelion tea between meals. Both herbs work as gentle diuretics. Fennel, ginger, chamomile and peppermint are effective for bloating relief. If you suspect constipation is your main bloating culprit, try a natural fiber supplement like psyllium seed, which can optimize your bowel’s ability to eliminate stool. Before adding any herbs to your diet, check with your doctor.
Joy Johnston has been an online journalist since 2005. She has served as senior producer for the health news website Sharecare and as a digital producer for the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," where she helped develop the health channel. Johnston has also covered ways to stay fit in Atlanta.