Inflammation, water retention, and bloating all basically mean the same thing – your body is holding extra fluid which slows down your metabolism, negatively impacts you digestive system and prevents you from achieving your health goals. This is why detoxing is so important, and an important part of detoxing is avoiding the top 10 bloating foods and drinks. This will be the first of two newsletters about detoxing.
Here’s Your Top 10 Foods & Drinks that Bloat You & Why:
1. Gluten – Gluten is a hot topic and is quickly being recognized as one of the biggest bloating and inflammatory ingredients in foods. Gluten is a complex protein that gives bread its elasticity and is extremely difficult for your body to digest. It is typically found in most bread products, pastas and cereals. The difficulty with digestion is what leads to inflammation and bloating, so look for those gluten-free labels.
2. Soy Protein – Soybeans contain organic compounds called isoflavones. These compounds trigger your body to produce the hormone estrogen, which causes your body to store fat and to bloat. Estrogen is an important hormone in women and men (yep, you men have a little estrogen, too). The challenge with estrogen is when your body produces too much you can enter estrogen overload!
- Cheese & Yogurt – I know this one might be a challenge, as cheese and yogurt are easy grab ‘n go protein sources and they taste great. But both of these introduce a couple of challenges. First, they are loaded with lactose (a sugar found in dairy). To efficiently digest lactose, your body produces an enzyme called lactase. When you don’t have enough lactase, lactose can’t be fully digested, causing bloating and gas (always fun!). The second challenge is some people have a slight allergy to milk protein, which can result in excess mucus, which leads to not only inflammation but also head and chest congestion. So you might be wondering where you will get your calcium… You can find that in veggies like spinach, kale, collard greens as well as broccoli and asparagus. They are loaded with calcium and don’t cause bloating.
- Refined Sugar – I’m sure you have heard plenty of advice telling you to “avoid sugar.” That statement doesn’t make much sense since all carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables, and grains, with fiber being the only exception) are metabolized into sugar. What you actually need to look out for is refined sugar, which is found in candy, soda, most processed foods,
etc. Basically, it is any sugar that doesn’t naturally occur in food. These types of sugars spike your blood sugar, which triggers fat storage and water retention.
- Sugar-Free Sweeteners – Have you ever had gas when chewing sugar-free gum? It happens to most of us and the culprit is the sugar-free sweetener in gum. The most used sugar-free sweeteners include: aspartame, saccharine, sorbitol, xylitol and sucralose. These are “fake” sugars that are formed with a double sugar molecule that your body cannot digest. So that causes gas and bloating. There is actually a lot of research that these once-touted calorie savers may actually be worse for you than refined sugar. The good news is that there is already a natural and healthy sweetener on the market called stevia, which can be digested by your body.
- Salt – Have you ever watched someone add so much salt to their food that you wonder if they can taste anything other than the salt? Adding salt to your food or eating processed food (which is almost always loaded with salt) will cause massive bloating. Every milligram of sodium attracts water, causing your body to retain water. The more salt you eat, the more bloating you’ll have. Try to eat clean foods that have a small and natural amount of salt. If you are a salt lover, don’t panic – just make sure to use a moderate amount. Your two best salt choices are sea salt and pink Himalayan salt because they are both natural and unprocessed and help minimize the bloating effects of regular table salt. Just remember to use a moderate amount.
- Soda Pop (Regular & Diet) – I know this one probably isn’t a shocker, as we’re told by almost everyone to cut soda. There’s a good reason to do this. All types of sodas are full of chemicals, carbonation (which causes gas in your intestines) and either refined sugar (regular soda) or sugar-free sweeteners (diet soda). What I’ve learned from working with my clients is that if you’re attached to your soda, it’s best to start cutting down your consumption as much as possible (by half) each week, until eventually you are soda-free! As you do this, you won’t crave it anymore and you’ll have less bloating. Double bonus!
- Alcohol – Now you might be thinking, I thought alcohol dehydrates me, so how can it bloat me? Well, you’re right that it is dehydrating. When your body feels like it doesn’t have enough water, it shifts into water-retention mode to protect itself, mainly in terms of blood flow. Also, alcohol disrupts your digestion by making your body digest alcohol first (alcohol calories cannot be used for energy) before your food is digested. This increases the chances of food being stored as fat. And alcohol also disrupts your sleep cycles, which leads to more stress and that equals more bloating. Of course, everything in moderation is fine. A glass of wine or a beer or drink is completely fine.
- Coffee and Caffeinated Tea – Many of us love coffee and caffeinated tea. I sure do! Detoxing from coffee will help get your adrenal gland (your body’s battery) cleaned up and to balance out your cortisol levels. The caffeine in coffee and tea triggers an over-release of adrenaline which is countered with a release of your stress hormone (cortisol). Too much cortisol leads to unwanted body fat. Most coffee and caffeinated tea drinkers have trained their bodies to rely on the caffeine rush, causing a “caffeine addiction”. This causes you to use caffeine to mask some possible sleep deprivation or fatigue. Cutting caffeine will remove the fake energy mask and get your body back in balance.
Even decaf coffee is very acidic, so it is also something to detox from. However, the good news is that one or two cups a day of caffeine-free tea is just fine. Choose a good herbal tea and enjoy!
Something important to note is that caffeine withdrawal can cause major headaches. When you cut caffeine, if you notice that your energy drops too low and you’re experiencing headaches, add back one cup of caffeinated coffee or tea each day in the morning.
10. Grains & Calorie-Dense Vegetables – High-quality grains like quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice and millet are amazing carbohydrates, as are calorie-dense vegetables like beans, sweet potatoes and yams. They are all fiber-rich complex carbohydrates that slow down digestion and help keep blood sugar levels balanced. But they are also the reasons why they can cause bloating. Yep – even though they are great carbs, they are also heavier and more calorie-dense carbohydrates, which can cause some additional water retention (since carbs attract water molecules just like sodium does). Detoxing your body is all about eating a diet as light and rich in nutrients, and as easy to digest as possible. This is why your best carbohydrate choices for a 7-day detox are fruits and low-calorie vegetables. No worries, though – after seven days you’ll be loving your grains and calorie- dense vegetables again!
Now that you know the 10 foods/drinks that cause bloating and that you should detox from to start off 2017, stay tuned for our next newsletter to find out why you should detox, how to do it and what you’ll actually get from it. It’s an amazing oil change for your body!
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Happy New Year!