When even our stretchiest pants feel too tight for our bloated bellies, something's gotta give. Up to 75% of people who menstruate experience bloating before or during their period, so we've gathered up some tricks and tricks to help beat the bloat. But first...
Yep, you guessed it: those pesky hormones are to blame for you feeling like a balloon that's about to burst. There are two main factors at play. A few days before your period, your body experiences an increase in oestrogen levels, which prompts your body to retain excess water. At the same time, your progesterone levels are quickly dropping (this triggers the uterus to shed its lining), which slows down your digestive track significantly. This unfortunate combination leaves our abdomen feeling tight, swollen and unbearably uncomfortable.
Thankfully, there are super simple lil hacks we can do to both reduce the likelihood of this happening altogether and to alleviate the discomfort once the bloating has already hit.
While this may seem counterintuitive and you may be convinced that your stomach can't possibly hold anything else — it's super important to stay hydrated if you're feeling bloated. Drinking plenty of fluids improves your body's water retention by ridding your body of excess sodium and stimulating digestion. Once your body has a sufficient amount of liquid, it'll release any excess liquid naturally.
Potassium to the rescue! research shows that potassium decreases sodium levels and boosts urine production, two main factors in alleviating bloating. Bananas may get all the limelight when it comes to potassium (thank you honey, I shrunk ourselves), but avocados, sweet potatoes, watermelon, spinach, coconut water, edamame, pomegranate and beets all pack a serious punch when it comes to potassium levels.
If the bloating has already hit you hard, the best thing you can do in the moment are some gentle, easy stretching exercises. Some tried and true yoga poses that often alleviate the pressure include sphinx pose, cat-cow, extended triangle pose and extended puppy pose. Don't get too hung up on nailing the positions perfectly and just let your body intuitively guide you into the positions it needs.
We know the urge for crisps may be hitting hard right before your period, but it's best to avoid excess salt to decrease water retention. The recommended daily salt intake for adults is less than 6 grams of salt per day (around 1 teaspoon). unfortunately it's become much too easy to surpass this recommended daily limit with all that salt-laden processed foods at our fingertips, so be mindful of what you're snacking on to avoid any unnecessary pain or discomfort.
Similarly to staying hydrated, diuretics will ease bloating by getting rid of excess water through increased urine production. some foods that are natural diuretics include: hibiscus, watermelon (double points for watermelon being potassium-rich and a natural diuretic), dandelion extract, horsetail, ginger, garlic, cucumber, peaches, pineapple and asparagus. We love adding a few popper of yin & tonic into a warm cuppa for that boost of ginger + all the extra vitamins and nutrients that make us feel fantastic when pms symptoms strike. Also note: caffeine is one of the most well known diuretics, but...
Caffeine is not the diuretic you're looking for since it can often overstimulate the digestive tract and lead to potential spasms and swelling. It also makes you more prone to dehydration, what is exactly what you're trying to avoid. You're also gonna want to pass on happy hour since alcohol can similarly pester your gastrointestinal tract.
Your first instinct may be to load up on fiber to get your bowels moving, but this can have the opposite effect. Our bodies looove moderation and consistency, so a sudden barrage of fiber can actually increase bloating as your system isn't used to processing so much at once. Definitely snack on some fruits and vegs, but don't go over-the-top with fiber drink mixes or supplements if it's not a part of your regular diet.
This is the sign you've been waiting for — take that 20-minute power nap sans shame! sleep is a miraculously healing thing and those crucial hours of shut-eye actually alleviate bloating by moving excess water in your belly to other parts of your body. when in doubt, sleep it out.
While period bloating is incredibly normal, if it's severely impacting your wellness and day-to-day routine, we suggest checking in with your doctor to make sure everything is a-okay! It's especially important to monitor excess bloating if you find that it's not syncing up with your period — this could potentially be due to a gastrointestinal condition such as Crohn's disease or IBS. Also: we highly recommend tracking your cycle and regularly noting your symptoms so that you can easily pinpoint any irregularities or odd patterns.
As always - happy cycling!
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