The sun, and the warmer weather it brings with it, can do wonders for our body in all sorts of ways. It gives us a dose of much-needed vitamin D, it's known to improve our mood and is a crucial ingredient for overall health, as it protects against inflammation, lowers high blood pressure, helps loosen up muscles and improves brain function.
Plus, after almost a year indoors, followed by weeks of rain, we've never felt more grateful to be able to sit outside for those much-needed catch-ups with friends.
However, in and amongst this long list of benefits, you might have noticed one way in which the sun doesn't have a particularly pleasant effect on your body: it can leave you feeling bloated.
If you have noticed that you feel swollen and/or uncomfortable when the weather's warmer, you aren't imagining it, and you aren't alone either. There's actually a pretty straightforward reason as to why the rising temperature can lead to us feeling puffier.
As top nutritionist, Clarissa Lenherr explains: 'In response to increased temperatures, our body tries to regulate our temperature through sweating and therefore loss of water. This loss of water can potentially leave us dehydrated, especially if we are not consuming additional water to compensate.
'This reduction in water and electrolytes, lost through sweating, can unfortunately trigger digestive bloating.
'Another symptom of dehydration is fatigue. When our energy levels dip, one of the automatic response is to consume food in response, to provide us with energy. And these foods tend to be energy rich and highly palatable foods. The common culprits being sweet snacks, salty foods and/or caffeine — all of which alone can be common triggers and together may exacerbate bloating.'
But you don't have to take bloating lying down — quite literally — there are ways you can help reduce water retention and swelling so that you feel more comfortable inside and out.
Here are Clarissa's top three tips on keeping the warm-weather bloat at bay.
3 ways to reduce heat-induced bloating
1.Don’t let yourself get dehydrated
It might feel counterintuitive to drink lots of water when you feel bloated, but there is an answer. Instead of downing several pints of water, slowly slip throughout the day to avoid dehydration. If you have forgotten your water bottle, or had a few hours in the sun, have one glass of plain water and then sip another over the next hour. For an added benefit you can try an unsweetened coconut water which will provide you with electrolytes (potassium) that may help offset any of the dehydration symptoms.
2.Avoid common trigger foods
Beans, chickpeas, lentils, fibre rich vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks can trigger bloating at the best of times. Avoid these foods if you know they might be problematic and reach for alternatives. And if you are drinking alcohol in the heat, have an additional glass of water for every alcoholic beverage to support your livers metabolism of alcohol and prevent further dehydration… and potentially a hangover!
3.Try a cold-brew peppermint or ginger tea
Whilst a hot tea might make you feel like boiling alive, both ginger and peppermint can provide relief for some people who experience bloating or digestive upset. Try making a cup of ginger or peppermint tea, let it sit until slightly cool and add a few ice cubes in and enjoy as a cold beverage!
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