Beat belly bloat this summer

August 14, 2020 Providence Nutrition Team

Beat belly bloat this summer.

  • Summer fun foods may contribute to belly bloat.
  • Eat these foods to help beat bloat this summer.
  • How summer heat and dehydration causes bloating.

[3 MIN READ]

It’s back again: that too-full, bloated feeling in your gut. As temperatures go up, your stomach swells up too. Summer activities — including eating and drinking certain foods and beverages — may be causing the discomfort.

Here are some of the usual suspects when it comes to the food and beverages you may be consuming this summer that cause bloating.

Summer food favorites that bring the bloat

Certain foods and drinks just scream summer fun. Unfortunately, that same fare may also cause bloating. If your gastrointestinal tract doesn’t move certain foods through efficiently, gas can build up in the intestines. The results are bloating and discomfort.

Here are some examples:

  • Cocktails. Alcohol has a diuretic effect, meaning it can cause you to pass more urine, which can lead to dehydration and water retention, followed by the dreaded bloating. Alcohol also has an inflammatory effect on the body, which tends to make the body swell. Hoping to bypass the sugar by drinking a “skinny” version of a mixed drink? Calorie-cutting artificial sweeteners may only add to the bloated feeling. Sorbitol, a sweetener used in some drinks, can be hard for the body to absorb — and that leads to bloating.
  • Ice cream. Ah … the perfect summer treat. But this treat may make you feel bloated. Fructose in the dessert isn’t always easily absorbed in the body and instead travels to the colon. There, bacteria ferment the fructose, which releases gases that cause bloating. The other culprit is dairy lactose, which is hard for many people to digest and may cause bloating, gas and overall discomfort.

Sparkling water, seltzer and sodas you find so refreshing contain a lot of fizzy bubbles that may get trapped in your belly, causing a buildup of air, which brings on the bloat. 

  • Bubbly beverages. The sparkling water, seltzer and sodas you find so refreshing contain a lot of fizzy bubbles that may get trapped in your belly. That causes a buildup of air, which brings on the bloat. Gas blended with water in a carbonated beverage can make your stomach “puff out.”
  • High-sodium and high-fiber foods. In a recent study, researchers found that a high-fiber diet may raise the risk of bloating by about 41%, compared with a lower-fiber diet. Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate, which causes gas to form. The study also found that high-sodium diets can raise the chance of bloating by about 27% compared with a low-sodium diet. More research is needed to learn why sodium causes bloating, but studies suggest that sodium causes water retention, which may be a factor.

Foods to help you beat the bloat

Just as there are foods that cause bloating, there are foods that can be bloat blasters, even as you’re enjoying their delicious tastes.

  • Tomatoes. This summer staple is rich in potassium, which can help cut down on bloating by lowering your body's sodium levels. If you want help with keeping dehydration at bay, eat tomatoes. They’re made up of about 95% water and can boost your daily fluid needs to help fight bloating. 
  • Cucumbers. Cukes are packed with water. Surprisingly, there’s even a bit of sodium in cucumbers. When combined with the other nutrients, that small amount helps keep you hydrated — one of your best weapons in the fight against feeling bloated.

If you’ve had too much salt, watermelon's abundant water content makes it a go-to for flushing out the extra sodium. 

  • Watermelon. If you’ve had too much salt, this fruit’s abundant water content makes it a go-to for flushing out the extra sodium. Eating a water-dense food like watermelon is a tasty way to rid your body of a salt imbalance. 
  • Avocados. It’s an amazing fruit and a staple of summer fun eats. Avocados are low in sugar and contain soluble fiber. This combination feeds your gut the good bacteria, which aids your digestion and keeps you feeling full without making you gassy.  

Another reason for summer bloating: dehydration

Dehydration is a loss of fluids in your body. It can be caused by a few activities you may be doing during the summer months, including:

  • Getting too much sun or a lot of exposure to heat
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Eating salty snacks

When you're in the sun too long, your body starts retaining water as a safety measure. Think of it as a form of self-defense, since your body doesn’t know when it will have its next intake of fluid. 

For instance, when you’re in the sun too long, it causes water loss. In response, your body starts retaining water as a safety measure. Think of it as a form of self-defense, since your body doesn’t know when it will have its next intake of fluid. Yet even as your body is conserving water, the retention is what may also cause you to feel bloated.

It’s important to note that serious illness can result from being dehydrated. You should get help right away if you have one or more of these symptoms after being in the sun too long or you haven’t been staying hydrated:

  • Intense thirst
  • Dark yellow, strong-smelling urine
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • Urinating no more than four times a day

Get a checkup to be on the safe side this summer

If bloating seems to be your constant companion this summer, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Together, you can rule out any serious causes of bloating such as celiac disease, infection or irritable bowel syndrome.

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Find a doctor

Providence doctors can help you handle concerns about bloating. See our provider directory.

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Fun in the summer sun and your favorite foods of the season can cause bloating. But there are ways to beat belly bloat. Share your tips @providence. #bloating

Related resources

Managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with diet

9 signs your stomach pain isn't normal

You’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease. Now what?

Problems with bloating? Watch your sodium intake

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

We are all about food! The Providence Nutrition Team loves to talk about and share our expertise on how to help you find the right diet, food types and maintenance tactics to help you live life to the fullest...while also enjoying the best foods that mother nature has to offer.

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