Here’s the honest truth – I’ve never had a flat stomach. Not when I was a young girl doing PE, rounders, running, hockey, netball, swimming; not when I went to regular weekly aerobics and did all those boring abdominal crunches; not even when I was at my skinniest during my post-viral fatigue days when I went down to 8 stone! No matter what I did, I always seemed to have a slightly rounded stomach, but there’s a reason for that – that’s how we are designed!
I know that I am not alone when I talk of this ‘struggle’. Despite the six packs and taut abs you see on social media, it is quite difficult to achieve a flat stomach. It’s especially tricky for women, as our biological make-up works against the idea of having a flat stomach. Other things like bloating, distension, genetics, food sensitivities or allergies, poor posture and a lack of core strength can all make it difficult to flatten your stomach as well.
Striving to get a flat stomach shouldn’t be about appearances, but research shows that less fat in the belly area is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. Our bodies are complicated and unfortunately, a variety of factors (such as hormones and genetics) can affect how flat your midsection naturally is. That means that trying to make your stomach smaller, and keep it that way, can be difficult, both physically and mentally.
Bloating in women
I am continuously contacted by people, mainly women I have to say, who suffer with uncomfortable and unsightly bloating. Having a nice, feminine, rounded tummy is one thing, but it’s quite another thing to look 8 or 9 months pregnant by the end of the day, when you’re not! Before I recommend supplements and dietary tweaks to help reduce bloating, I like to ask a few questions first that will enable me to come to a conclusion as to why a person is getting constantly bloated.
I’m always on the look-out for red flags that would signal contacting a GP to have symptoms checked out, although invariably it’s just a functional issue that can be sorted with a few inexpensive targeted supplements to bring balance back into the digestive system. Depending upon the answers I get, I will either recommend a 5-day Charcoal ‘deep-clean’ of the digestive system, which you can read more about here, followed by an initial one-month course of our 5*-rated 30-day Perfect Balance Kit.
If your goal is to reduce bloating, some of the tips below will definitely help with that. And if you’re hoping to reduce your abdominal fat and shed a few pounds from your midsection to lower your risk of chronic conditions, consider starting by adding more wholesome and unprocessed foods to your menu and increasing your physical activity. After that, these straightforward, science-backed and expert-approved strategies should also help you get a flatter belly. If you are reading this while chewing gum, remove it – for good! Anyone who chews gum is swallowing air.
Managing constipation is also crucial in your quest to beat the bloat, not just for reducing the toxic gases that can lead to bloating, but to reduce many other health-related issues connected to constipation. Read more about it in our informative Constipation Fact Sheet.
Ditch the straw
This may sound obvious, but if you’re ingesting a lot of air, it needs to take up space somewhere in your body and lead to bloat as it moves through your digestive system. To prevent that from happening, avoid drinking carbonated beverages and using straws, both of which can increase the air that ends up in your stomach. Also remember not to talk and eat at the same time because it makes you swallow air.
Ditch your chair
You don’t have to convert to a standing desk full-time, but research shows that replacing just one hour of sitting at work with one hour of standing can reduce your waist circumference. It might feel good to stretch a little anyway!
Reduce your sodium intake
When you eat too much sodium, research shows that your body is forced to retain water to dilute the sodium before it’s excreted. As a result, you’ll probably feel a little bloated from the extra ‘water weight’. To avoid this (and lower your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke), aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. It’s worth noting that there are high amounts of sodium in processed and restaurant foods, so one of the easiest things you can do is avoid packaged foods.
Those colourful hoops aren’t just for kids! One study found that when research participants began using a weighted hula hoop for six minutes a day and then each week thereafter added two minutes to their daily total, they lowered their abdominal fat and increased their muscle mass in just six weeks. Just look at the before and after videos on TikTok!
Gradually increase your fibre
Fibre is great for keeping things moving through your digestive tract so you don’t feel bloated from constipation. But adding too much too quickly can have the opposite effect and actually cause more gas, so do it gradually. Choose high-fibre cereal or oats for breakfast and make daily snacks fruit- and veggie-based, such as carrots and hummus or apple slices with nut butter. You can also add chia seeds, avocado and frozen raspberries into your smoothie for a boost of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Sip more water
Keep those fluids coming! Being dehydrated causes the body to hoard water and this can lead you to carry up to four excess pounds around your midsection. Drinking water also helps your body handle the extra fibre you’re ingesting. (Cruciferous veggies and legumes are especially known for causing gas pain if you’re not adequately hydrated.) Aim for at least 8 large glasses of water or other fluids daily.
We have lots of other tips to beat bloating in our Bloating Brochure that you can download for free.
If you would like to know more about our products or have any questions about a digestive and gut health issue, please get in touch.