This summer is shaping up to be a good one — and wouldn’t it be a nice surprise if, when you tried on your shorts from last year, they buttoned with room to spare? That could be easier than you think since most of us carry five to 10 pounds of water weight in the form of belly bloat — and getting rid of it is this simple.
Reach for the sky.
Gently stretching your abdominal muscles promotes lymphatic drainage, moving trapped fluids to your liver for disposal. So say researchers at NYU Langone Hospital, who found five minutes of stretching twice daily eases belly bloat in two days. To do: Push your palms (one at a time, then both at once) toward the sky, then stretch your arms out to your sides and twist your upper body from side to side. Finish by bending over so your upper body hangs toward the floor.
Roll up a towel.
Tucking a rolled-up towel or small pillow behind your lower back when you’re seated lessens belly swelling by 72 percent in 24 hours, Italian scientists say. Keeping your lower back aligned and properly supported drastically reduces pressure in your abdominal cavity, improving circulation and lymphatic drainage so trapped gasses and fluids can be released.
Sip this iced tea.
Mild-tasting horsetail tea (Buy on Amazon, $12.99) is delicious iced or warm, and sipping two cups daily erases belly bloat and puffiness as effectively as a prescription diuretic, suggests research in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Study co-author Dan Carneiro, MD says horsetail is a gentle diuretic that encourages the kidneys to flush trapped fluids.
Try an extract.
Artichoke extract (Buy on Amazon, $21.98) costs 10 cents per day, yet it cuts abdominal swelling and gassiness by 70 percent if you take 500 to 600 milligrams daily, British scientists say. As gastroenterologist Ben Adam, MD explains, the vegetable brims with a natural anti-inflammatory, digestion-boosting compound (cynarin). Note: Check with a doctor before supplementing.
Get a little sweet relief.
If mealtimes give you belly bulge, try adding half a teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg to your daily diet. Austrian researchers say these sweet spices contain compounds (polyphenols) that fuel the growth of healthy probiotic bacteria in the intestines. These good bugs crowd out the troublesome germs that can make us feel bloated, gassy and burpy after meals.
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine.