Bloating occurs if you have an excess buildup of gas that is not released through belching or flatulence. Eating gas-producing foods, such as beans, cabbage and broccoli, is one cause of bloating, but consuming too much salt also can contribute to this uncomfortable condition. Examining the relationship between sodium and bloating can help you make dietary choices that ease this problem.
The average diet contains far more sodium than the recommended 2,300 milligrams or less per day. You need some sodium in your daily diet because it contributes to important functions in your body, including proper fluid balance, transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction and relaxation. It only takes a small amount of sodium each day to provide your body with enough to carry out these functions. Too much sodium can lead to health problems, including high blood pressure and kidney problems.
A diet too high in sodium can lead to uncomfortable bloating, Elizabeth Somer notes in her book, "Nutrition for Women: How Eating Right Can Help You Look and Feel Your Best." If you consume too much salt, your body holds onto more fluids to help you maintain the proper sodium balance in your body, which can lead to bloating. Your body retains the fluids until the sodium has been diluted back to normal levels.
Many packaged and processed foods contain high amounts of sodium. Canned soup, pasta sauce, frozen dinners and luncheon meats are among the worst offenders. Snack foods, such as potato chips, crackers and pretzels, also can be high in salt, as are bacon, cheese, pizza and soy sauce. Read food labels and watch for ingredient lists that include sodium, monosodium glutamate, baking soda, disodium phosphate, sodium nitrate or nitrite high up on the list because they all indicate salt.
Drinking more water is the best way to treat bloating because it helps dilute the amount of sodium in your blood and rebalance your fluid and sodium. Continue drinking plenty of water to help keep your body in balance. Lowering your sodium intake helps prevent bloating, so choose low-sodium foods and increase your intake of naturally low-sodium foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Avoid alcohol and beverages with caffeine, as they cause dehydration, which also can contribute to bloating.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Sodium in Diet
- Health 24: 10 Foods That Cause Bloating
- Nutrition for Women: How Eating Right Can Help You Look and Feel Your Best; Elizabeth Somer
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.