(NaturalNews) Oh, the feeling of the bloat. That acidic, swollen, gassy, lousy feeling - especially through the holidays - that cause you to unbutton your jeans and find a couch to spread out on.
What to do?
Well, the first thing is - relax. We'll tell you about four foods you can stick to through the upcoming silly season of eating - and beyond - that will help you win the battle of the bloat.
First, some general tips.
Overall, the very best way to avoid the bloats is to stay away from the food items that cause it the most - soda, alcohol (beer especially), and overtly greasy, overly salty and extra fatty meals, which tend to slow the stomach and intestines from emptying, says Timothy S. Harlan, M.D., a.k.a Dr. Gourmet, the medical director of Tulane University's School of Medicine.
If you are planning to over-indulge; however, be proactive: Eat certain flat-belly foods in the days leading up to your planned feast. Dr. Harlan, and other experts, have picked four of them for you, based on the latest research:
Papaya: Some research out there suggests that an enzyme in papaya could aid in your digestion. Referred to as the "fruit of the angels" by Christopher Columbus, researchers say this sweet, succulent and satiny fruit promotes digestive health and intestinal cleansing, fights inflammation, and supports the immune system.
"The vitamins and nutrients in papaya are definitely beneficial, but the primary therapeutic benefit is derived from its enzyme, papain. Papain is a cysteine protease enzyme that is well known for its various digestive health benefits," says chiropractor and fitness blogger Dr. Cari Case. "Papaya has been used for its medicinal benefits since the 18th century, but it wasn't until 1870 when the papain enzyme itself was discovered. Since that time, extensive research has been performed on its health benefits."
You can take a papaya chewable supplement, or eat the real thing. There are several fabulous papaya-filled recipes out there.
Oatmeal: Not only is oatmeal a wonderful breakfast food, in it's original state, it is a wonderfully healthy food that won't add to your bloatedness. Furthermore, says Harlan, in a recent meta-analysis of several studies related to digestion, researchers found that oat bran is particularly helpful.
"Oats have a high fiber content. Fiber is necessary in keeping bowel movements regular. Oats are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It is spongy and absorbs many times its own weight of liquid. It makes stools heavier and speeds their passage through the gut, relieving constipation," says the blog EatMoreOats.com. Harlan recommends having some oatmeal for breakfast and, especially during the the holidays, using oatmeal in pie crust.
Yogurt: Not a fan of yogurt? Well, as the saying goes, "Try it - you just might like it." But for sure, you'll like the anti-bloating benefits of choosing a yogurt with "active cultures," which increase the number of "good" bacteria in your gut, thereby aiding your digestion by making it more efficient, thereby reducing belly blow-up. Harlan says you should look for organic plain yogurt (most likely to contain the active cultures you need) and avoid anything with "fruit on the bottom." Want a touch of sweetness? Stir in some strawberry or other jam.
Asparagus: "Asparagus is also one of the only vegetables to contain inulin, which feeds friendly bacteria that live in the large intestine. This makes it a great food for preventing yeast overgrowth, and it generally keeps the digestive system and belly well," writes Sheryl Walters for NaturalNews. Also, says Harlan, this veggie could also ease the build-up of gas and, due to its diuretic qualities, serves to help flush excess fluid from your body.