"Most women don't want to talk about it, but you really have to set aside a specific time each day to use the bathroom," notes Judith Reichman, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles. "If you don't, it's too easy to give into feeling rushed, and ignore the urge to go." Once you've trained your brain to dismiss your body's signals, you set the stage for bloat-inducing constipation.
Processed foods are one of the biggest sources of salt in Americans' diets—and the scary part is you probably don't even realize it. Because of the way these addictive foods are formulated, salt is hidden in everything from soups to pasta sauces to even sweet things like boxed cakes. Swap out processed foods in favor of fresh fare and your tummy will thank you. Not only will you lose the salt-bloat but you'll also lose the extra empty calories and lose weight.
Americans are getting less sleep than ever these days and it's taking a toll on our health—most visibly on our waistlines. Losing just 30 minutes of sleep per night can make you gain weight, according to a study done by the Endocrine Society. Worse, that weight is more likely to go straight to your tummy. Instead, the researchers found, the best sleep cycle is one that follows your natural circadian rhythms, which means sleeping and waking around the same time as the sun.
Shrinking your belly isn’t just about what you put in your body, it’s about what’s going on in your brain, too. In a 2015 study, Brown University researchers asked nearly 400 people to complete a mindfulness awareness survey, which asked whether subjects agreed with such questions as “I find it difficult to stay focused on what’s happening in the present.” Then, they X-rayed the subjects’ bellies to determine their degree of belly fat. The results showed that the higher people scored on the mindfulness survey, the less visceral fat they were likely to have. People who are less mindful have, on average, an extra pound of fat inside their bellies than those who are more in tune with their everyday lives and the world around them.
Your body can retain water when your sodium and potassium levels are out of whack, Bannan says. In addition to keeping sodium in check, consume potassium-rich foods to maintain the balance and de-puff your belly. Try incorporating 1 medium baked potato without skin (610mg), 1/2 cup white beans (595mg), 1 cup cooked spinach (839mg), 10 dates (466mg), or 1 cup edamame (676mg) daily.
It's not just about weight loss. Having great gut health is linked to good health throughout your body. Scientists in this rapidly growing field are finding connections between gut microbes and the ;immune system, weight loss, gastrointestinal health, allergies, asthma, and even cancer. With every study that's published, scientists become more convinced that having a healthy gut leads to having a healthy body.