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What’s really making you so bloated?

Got that ‘I can’t get into my clothes’ swollen tummy feeling? We may be able to help.

What’s really making you so bloated?‘I’ve yet to meet a woman who doesn’t suffer from bloatedness,’ says Cape Town-based nutritional therapist, Hannah Kaye. You may be one of the millions suffering from fluid retention, but when you don’t get enough water, your body clings to every drop it can. Drink 6-8 glasses a day, and find out the cause of your bloating.


How: Taking a high-oestrogen Pill can lead to bloating. Similarly, drugs for high blood pressure, steroids and over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen, can cause chemical imbalances and lead to fluid retention.

Prevent it: Talk to your GP about changing your medication; even a change of brand can help. Swap ibuprofen for paracetamol, but avoid anything with caffeine, which may exacerbate things.

Cure it: If avoiding medication isn’t possible, reducing the amount of salt (sodium) in your diet can help. We retain water to dilute sodium in our bodies; the more salt in your food, the more water your body holds on to.

Food & Drink

How: Lots of salty ready-meals and not enough fresh fruit and veg can cause an electrolyte imbalance in your body, making it store too much fluid. Too much caffeine also acts as a diuretic; this rids your body of fluid at first, but then we make up for it and store even more water.

Prevent it: Check food labels: according to the World Health Organisation, we shouldn’t eat more than 6g of salt each day, yet most of us consume at least 9g. Flavour foods with herbs, garlic and spices, and limit caffeine to 300mg a day – a regular cup of coffee contains 70mg; tea 45mg.

Cure it: Eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg – and tuck into bananas! The potassium-rich fruit helps expel excess salt and water in your urine. Drink cranberry juice, too, as it encourages fluid excretion.


How: Kidney, liver and thyroid malfunction can all lead to fluid retention, because these organs affect your body’s ability to shift water. And if your heart isn’t pumping blood efficiently, you retain excess fluid in your tissues.

Prevent it: If you suspect illness is a cause of your fluid retention, see your GP straight away.

Cure it: Eat foods that are rich in vitamin B6 (wheatgerm and bananas); vitamin B5 (wholegrains and nuts); calcium and vitamin D (dairy products) as they all encourage fluid excretion.


How: In the week before your period there’s a reduction in progesterone, which makes your kidneys retain salt and water. Some experts believe that fluctuating blood-sugar levels make cell walls swell, resulting in bloating.

Prevent it: Taking a calcium supplement in the week before your period can help (try Clicks Calcium Effervescent Fizzi Tablets); and eat six small meals a day rather than three large ones to avoid blood-sugar swings.

Cure it: A homeopathic remedy such as Natura Corp, can help reduce premenstrual water-retention. For long-term relief, try Meno-Expert (see ‘Women Like You’ below).

Women like you

Tracey Tonathy, 52, lives in Randburg and is self-employed.

“I’ve had bloatedness most of my adult life. Although eating and drinking patterns have had a lot to do with it, it’s worsened over the last five years due to hormonal changes. For me bloatedness is not about how much I weigh, but about discomfort, especially as my day progresses. I was bloated two weeks a month, during the second half of my cycle, until I found Meno-Expert (from major pharmacies and health shops). It’s 100% natural, eliminates toxins, provides immediate relief and promotes water balance.”

Feature by Mandy Mcdonald. This article was taken from the May 2010 edition of Essentials magazine.


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