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Replacing your usual indulgences with sugar-free gum and diet soda can feel virtuous, but zero-calorie good intentions can backfire. Some artificial sweeteners contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that can’t be absorbed by your gastrointestinal tract.  They tend to ferment there and produce a lot of bacteria and gas, making them a huge cause of bloating.  It’s just another reminder that nothing is ever really free.

Salt attracts moisture—think about how salt shakers cake up when it’s humid outside. When you have a higher concentration of sodium in your bloodstream, your body holds on to water to dilute the concentration. Drinking water also keeps your sodium-potassium balance in check.

Some fruits, like watermelon and cranberries, act as natural diuretics that reduce fluid retention. Still, don’t just reach for the nearest Edible Arrangement. The diuretic effect can be canceled out by sugar, which causes bloating. Go for vegetables that are relatively low in fructose, like asparagus and cucumber. Vitamin C supplements have a diuretic effect, meaning the help the body get rid of excess fluid. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids when taking them. Remember the more water you drink the less water your body will hold on to,

So you’ve slipped up and snacked on a handful (or six) of salty pretzels. The good news is that avocados and other potassium-rich foods combat puffiness by balancing excess sodium and reducing water retention. “Look for foods that are high in potassium or that have a balance of potassium and sodium, like celery.
There are lots of reasons to skip that second (or third) glass of wine, and you can now add bloating to the list. Don’t let the fact that alcohol is a diuretic fool you. By keeping your body from processing things properly, alcohol can blow you up. Alcohol is very acid-forming in the body, and an acidic body tends to hold on to excess water weight. Caffeine can have a similar effect.” And then there’s the fact that alcohol and salty snacks were made for each other, so consuming one usually means too much of the other.
When you do indulge, avoid sugary and boil-brewed alcohols, like tequila, rum, and beer, which has the added problem of carbonation. They’re extremely processed, Tequila is one step away from agave, which is over 90 percent fructose. The purest hard liquor—i.e., the one with the least sugar—is vodka, so Russians have the right idea.

Like alcohol, certain drugs can affect the body’s ability to hold on to water. Birth control pills, steroids, and even ibuprofen are the worst offenders. It’s tempting to chalk up bloating to your diet, but if you’re on a new medication and notice that you feel puffy or crampy, you might want to discuss other options with your doctor. You should also talk to your physician if you’ve changed your diet and other habits and still feel bloated. It could be a sign that something more serious is going on.

Is there anything exercise doesn’t fix? With bloating, it doesn’t hurt to get physical. The GI tract is muscle, It gets flabby if you’re not exercising.  Physical exertion can stimulate gastrointestinal contractions known as peristalsis, making digestion easier.

Wolfing your food isn’t just bad manners. Fast eaters tend to take in more air and therefore experience more gas. Those other bad habits Grandma warned you about, like chewing gum, sucking on hard candy, and smoking, also increase gulped air. Carbonation can be a problem, though it depends on your sensitivity. Mere seltzer water will get to some people, while others are left unfazed by several San Pellegrinos a day. And if you’re about to sit down to a feast beginning with a green salad, which gets the digestive process rolling. All those enzymes at the beginning help you digest the rest of the food that follows.

Bloating, that feeling of fullness and swelling, is uncomfortable and can be distressing. While it might seem contradictory, you can usually fix fluid retention in your body by increasing your fluid intake, including drinking more water. As you drink more water, your body releases fluids, potentially leading to less bloating.  Mild water retention can be caused by fluctuating hormone levels, hot or humid weather, sunburns and standing for long periods of time.  As the fluids rehydrate your body, your body learns it is no longer at risk of dehydration, so it will release the retained fluids, leading to reduced swelling.