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How to Beat the Summer Bloat

This summer has been hotter than ever and, for many of us, this heat wave has come with one unfortunate side effect. No, we’re not talking about pit stains, we’re talking about summer bloat.

You know the feeling- when your shorts seem to fit a little tighter in the summer or your favorite swimsuit just doesn’t fit right anymore. The good news is that there are ways to combat the summer bloat and enjoy the heat. In this blog, we’ll describe what causes summer bloat and what you can do about it.

Why Do We Get Bloated During the Heat Wave?

In high temperatures, your body will naturally redirect the flow of blood in an effort to lower overall body temperature. Blood is sent to the skin, to help it cool down and allow heat to leave the body. This redirection of blood will impact your gastrointestinal tract, as the digestive system needs a certain amount of blood to function optimally. Beyond the natural shift in the distribution of blood in the body, a heat wave can also cause several other lifestyle changes that lead to bloating:

Diet and Eating Habits:

During the heat wave, our eating habits may change as we seek ways to stay cool and hydrated. Ice-cold beverages and frozen treats become more tempting, but consuming them in excess can lead to bloating and gas.

Carbonated drinks, often chosen for their refreshing qualities, can trap gas in our digestive system, causing further discomfort and bloating. The carbon dioxide in carbonated drinks can cause bubbles and gas to build up in the stomach and intestines, leading to a bloated feeling.

Moreover, the availability of processed, high-sodium foods during the heat wave might tempt us to indulge in salty snacks. High-sodium foods can contribute to water retention, exacerbating bloating and puffiness. Additionally, eating quickly or overeating during social gatherings can lead to swallowing excess air, which can also contribute to bloating and discomfort.

When it comes to diet and eating habits during the heat wave, it's essential to be mindful of our choices. Indulging in excessive ice-cold beverages and carbonated drinks can lead to gas and bloating. Opting for lighter, hydrating foods and being mindful of sodium intake can help prevent water retention and alleviate bloating. Additionally, practicing mindful eating, chewing slowly, and avoiding overeating can reduce the chances of swallowing excess air and experiencing bloating.

Heat-Induced Stress:

During a heat wave, our bodies face a unique challenge as they strive to regulate internal temperatures. The excessive heat puts a tremendous strain on our systems, and one of the systems most affected is our digestive system.

Heat is a form of stress on our bodies, and prolonged exposure to high temperatures triggers physiological responses, including the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels can disrupt digestion and cause bloating by altering the way food is processed in the gut.

Moreover, stress can also lead to changes in gut motility, potentially slowing down the movement of food through the digestive tract, contributing to bloating and discomfort.

Heat-induced stress can also affect the delicate balance of gut bacteria. Our gut microbiome plays a vital role in digestion and overall health. However, stress can disrupt this balance, leading to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, which can produce gas and lead to bloating.

In the midst of a heat wave, it's crucial to understand the impact of heat-induced stress on our digestive system. The release of stress hormones like cortisol can interfere with normal digestion, causing bloating and discomfort. Additionally, the disruption in gut bacteria balance due to stress can further contribute to digestive issues.


The scorching heat during a heat wave leads to increased sweating, causing a significant loss of fluids from our bodies. If we don't adequately replenish this lost fluid by staying hydrated, our bodies may retain water to prevent further dehydration.

Dehydration can cause water retention, resulting in bloating and puffiness, as the body holds onto the water it has in reserve. This is because the body's natural response to dehydration is to preserve water for essential functions. Ensuring adequate hydration is crucial during a heat wave to prevent this water retention and alleviate bloating.

In the midst of a heat wave, dehydration becomes a significant concern. Sweating excessively can lead to fluid loss, and if not replenished properly, it can result in water retention and bloating. Maintaining proper hydration is essential for preventing bloating during the heat wave.

Say Goodbye to Heat-Induced Bloat - Techniques to Try:

Stay Hydrated, Smartly: During the heat wave, staying hydrated becomes even more critical. Not only does your body need water to prevent retention, your GI system also depends on water to function properly. When food or stool sits in a sluggish, dehydrated GI tract, it can ferment and produce gasses that trigger bloating. Sip on hydrating beverages like infused water with lemon, cucumber, or mint to add a refreshing twist. Experts recommend 2 liters of water per day to combat dehydration and reduce the chances of water retention when it’s super steamy out there.

Mindful Munching: Eating too quickly or consuming large meals can lead to swallowing air, contributing to bloating. Savor each bite, chew thoroughly, and take your time with meals. Opt for smaller, more frequent meals to ease digestion and reduce bloating. Also, try not to eat so much cold food- chilled veggies and iced treats can cause the stomach to slow down and vessels in the stomach to contact. This leads to sluggish and delayed digestion.

Ditch Carbonated Drinks: While carbonated drinks might seem refreshing, they can trap gas in your digestive system, causing bloating. Opt for herbal iced teas, coconut water, or plain water to keep yourself cool and hydrated without the added discomfort. Also, try to avoid drinking alcohol when it’s really hot outside. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, as it encouraged the body to remove fluids and can further dehydration.

Get Moving: Exercise can help with digestion and reduce stress. Engage in light, regular physical activities like swimming, yoga, or evening walks during the cooler parts of the day to keep your digestive system on track. Moving your body can also encourage the digestive system to get moving, which will decrease boating and gas.

Try a supplement: In addition to lifestyle adjustments, certain supplements can offer support in combating bloating during the heat wave. Probiotics, for instance, can be beneficial in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. These friendly bacteria help promote digestion and reduce gas production, alleviating bloating. Look for probiotic supplements containing various strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Additionally, digestive enzymes can aid in breaking down food and enhancing nutrient absorption, reducing the likelihood of bloating caused by undigested food particles. Opt for a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplement that includes proteases, lipases, and amylases.

As the heat wave continues to test our resilience, let's equip ourselves with the knowledge to beat the summer bloat and embrace this blazing season with confidence. Stay hydrated, eat mindfully, and practice stress reduction techniques to enjoy a bloat-free and enjoyable summer, even in the face of the scorching heat wave.

Remember, wellness is a journey, and each step you take towards a healthier, happier you is worth celebrating. Stay cool, hydrated, and bloat-free!

To learn more about JCH or to make an appointment, click here to contact us! If you have any more questions about your path to optimal health, email our office at or call 276-235-3205.

The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!


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