Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Everyone experiences bloating in their lifetime. After work Friday beer nights or too many pizza slices will do it. But some people suffer from it more often, even every day. Even after eating each meal.
You might be experiencing bloating even when you’ve eliminated the common culprits: GLUTEN, DAIRY and BEER.
There are multiple reasons why your gut may be sending you signals for help - many of which have nothing to do with your diet. The secret to managing it is finding out why in the first place:
1. Not enough stomach acid in the gut The older we get, the less our digestive organs release stomach acid and digestive enzymes to help break our food down. As soon as our food is swallowed, it is sent to our stomach where it is mixed with stomach acid and enzymes to help break it down into smaller particles for nutrients to be absorbed. Our stomach cells release hydrochloric acid, our pancreas releases digestive enzymes and our gallbladder releases bile to assist in breaking down our food. Poor digestion, from not chewing our food until liquid, eating in a stressful environment or while you’re stressed or emotional, nutritional deficiencies such as zinc, taking certain medications including ant-acids, and certain surgical procedures including gastric bypass surgery can all affect these digestive processes. Supporting stomach acid production and digestive enzyme secretion such as sitting down and smelling your meal, squeezing lemon, taking apple cider vinegar, cold pressed celery juice or correcting nutritional deficiencies are just some ways to kick start your digestion and reducing bloating.
2. Not chewing your food until liquid It’s easy to just grab a meal on-the-go for convenience when in a hurry, or get distracted from staring at our phones or watch television while eating.
Eating in a rush during your quick work lunch break or while driving when dropping the kids off to school, disrupts the digestive process so that food isn’t broken down into absorbable sizes.
Even stimulation from technology can naturally switch our bodies into ‘fight or flight’ mode, where the release of digestive juices and enzymes needed to break down our food is shunted away from the stomach. This reduced secretion of stomach juices and enzymes alters how we break down our food, causing bloating.
Mindful eating is crucial for proper digestion and reduced bloating. Sitting down, smelling your food and taking a few breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth are simple ways to switch your body from a ‘fight or flight’ mode to a 'rest and digest' mode prior to taking that first bite.
3. Imbalance of all the guys living in the gut The microbiome refers to the combined micro-organisms – bacteria, yeast, parasites – and their genes that live in us. A healthy microbiome will contain between 2.5-5kg of bacteria which should be made up of around 75% of the ‘friendly’ strains with 25% of the ‘unfriendly’ strains. These bacteria have many important functions to balance our immune system, break food down and extract nutrients from our food. An imbalance of this ratio is called 'dysbiosis', leading to bloating and discomfort. Balancing this composition is crucial for a healthy digestive system. Find out which micro-organisms are currently in your gut right now through this simple stool test.
4. Food intolerances Wheat, gluten, dairy, refined sugar, yeast, soy and corn are the most common food intolerances. There could, however, be more foods of which you’re unaware of. Food intolerances are incredibly common to observe in clinic because of our modern western diet. Food manufacturing and processing as well as the over consumption of foods that we are not designed to eat in large quantities, are the main reasons that food intolerances and bloating are so common. Food intolerance testing is the best way to determine if there are foods affecting your digestion and contributing to bloating. How do you find out which foods are causing gut inflammation right now? Don't worry, I've got you, here's the super easy test I recommend.
5. Stress You already know that stress, whether it be physical, mental or emotional, affects us negatively. Now you can add “bloating” to the long list of reasons why.
Similar to stimulation from looking at technology, when our bodies are switched to ‘flight or flight’ mode, excess cortisol, our stress hormone, is released from our adrenal glands. This excess cortisol shunts blood flow away from the digestive tract, slowing down gut movement. This effects digestive acid and enzyme production and secretions, altering the pH of the digestive tract leading to bloating and discomfort. Stress and cortisol can also affect balance of beneficial and unfriendly bugs in our gut (dysbiosis), causing bloating.
Stress management and mindful eating plays a significant role in treating digestive symptoms including bloating. As previously mentioned, sitting down, smelling your food and taking a few breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth are simple ways to switch your body from a ‘fight or flight’ mode to a 'rest and digest' mode before taking that first bite.
6. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
SIBO is a condition of which we are becoming increasingly aware. Here, the normal bacteria in your small intestine are not passing down into the large bowel which leads to an overgrowth - uh oh, this isn't what we want! The excess bacteria then feed off the undigested food, especially simple carbs and sugars in our small intestine, leading to fermentation which causes bloating and discomfort. Because 70% of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is caused by SIBO, it’s a good idea to rule out SIBO. I often refer patients to perform a SIBO breath test if I suspect signs of SIBO to rule it out.
Now for the good news: you don’t have to nor should you live with bloating forever. Bloating is a sign that your gut needs some extra help and getting to the bottom of it is just the first step. Book now and and let’s beat this bloating together.
Bec is obsessed with your gut! In more of a fascination-than-creepy way. Book online for consultation with Bec or contact us to learn more about how Naturopathy and Colon hydrotherapy can help you kiss your gut issues good-bye!
*This blog is for educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your doctor or other qualified health practitioners before acting on information on this article, particularly if you have a medical condition, taking medication or if you are pregnant.