Belly bloating: a common hidden cause

Belly bloating: a common hidden cause

Have you ever been out for your favourite Pho only to look down at your bloated belly the next morning and go ‘What the Pho’?! When we eat out, regardless of the cuisine, our meals are often cooked with a lot of salt. It’s this excess salt or sodium (the major component of salt) that causes fluid build-up in our bodies and can make us feel blurgh!

But it’s not the bloated tummy we need to bellyache over; it’s the stress a salty diet can have on our heart and kidneys. Eating too much salt is dangerous for our health. It causes fluid retention, which increases our blood volume and increases blood pressure. Over time this puts a lot of stress on our hearts putting us at risk of heart failure or stroke. In fact, too much salt can put us at risk for a number of potentially life threatening illnesses.

It’s also important to note, that we’re not just putting ourselves at risk when tucking into a tom-yum, taco or tasty meat lovers pizza from our favourite local; it’s almost every time we eat processed food. About 75% of the salt in our diet comes from processed foods with cooking sauces, condiments, processed meat and ready meals amongst the major culprits. Ever dived in to a box of your favourite savoury biscuits only to find yourself with an unquenchable thirst? Or a bloated belly?

It’s important to read the label to see just how much salt you’re consuming. Remember salt is shown as sodium or hidden as a variation of sodium on the label. It’s good to be a super-sleuth when it comes to reading a label. You can crack the code here.

Reducing your salt intake is a smart choice long-term, but if you do find yourself unwittingly overdosing here are some quick and easy strategies to deal with the temporary tummy trouble.

Flush it out

It might seem counterintuitive to drink water to get rid of excess fluid, but that’s exactly what you need to do. After eating too much salt our body holds on to water to prevent us from getting dehydrated. Drinking water tells your system that your body is hydrated and it can let go of the excess it’s been holding on to.

Hydrate with water-rich snacks

There is only so much water you can drink sometimes, so you can hydrate with water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, yoghurt or smoothies.

Potassium is your friend

Potassium encourages your body to excrete sodium as well as tell your blood vessel walls to relax, which lowers your blood pressure. Bananas, melons, oranges and yoghurt are all potassium-rich foods.

Work it out

At least 30 minutes of exercise can help relieve bloating symptoms by getting the fluids moving – hopefully right out of your system!

It’s important to remember that if you have persistent bloating, you should see your GP.