Are you one of the 20-30% of our population dealing with gas and bloating on a regular basis? It is an uncomfortable signal that your body – specifically your digestive tract – needs your help. Though it may seem to be your norm, bloating is a call for action on your body’s behalf.
Many experience this as abdominal distention after eating throughout the day. Some of my clients have called it their “food baby.” If this is you, do you find you need to loosen your belt or choose to wear an elastic waistband for greater comfort?
Or are you reluctant to eat very much because you get bloating and discomfort afterward? Yet lack of nutrition causes malnourishment and can lead to loss of muscle mass.
What Causes Bloating?
First of all, it’s important to note that the human body does not produce gas. It is a byproduct of overgrown bacteria in our digestive tract consuming the food in our gut.
When the microbiome becomes imbalanced in the species present, also called dysbiosis, you can experience bloating or other symptoms. If you ask your doctor what can be done for bloating, they may suggest taking Metamucil, which can actually make bloating worse.
Or you may receive a prescription for an antispasmodic medication or even an antidepressant, either of which could make things worse.
Other Contributing Factors
While we recognize that bloating is caused by bacteria in your gut, there can be a variety of other factors that contribute. These can include:
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) – when bacteria that is normally in the colon gets up in the small intestine it finds more fodder on which to feast. These bacteria find a much bigger buffet to enjoy in the small intestines and produces gas. You might find the effect ebbs and flows, but without a wide spectrum treatment, SIBO often recurs.
Antibiotics – even a single round of antibiotics can cause an imbalance in opportunistic bacteria. Unfortunately, even if we are not taking the medication, we are exposed to antibiotics in our food supply, since the majority of antibiotics produced in the U.S. are used in agriculture.
Stress – this is yet another way that stress can have negative effects on your health. Stress can cause changes in the microbiome, leading to dysbiosis and more bloating after meals.
Lactose Intolerance – many lack the enzymes to properly digest the sugar or the proteins in dairy. This can leave more for bacteria to feast on and cause bloating. You may find that you do okay with occasional dairy consumption, but consuming it frequently prompts discomfort.
Acid Blockers And Medication – by reducing stomach acid, these medications can limit digestion and allow undigested food to pass into the small intestine. There it provides a feast for bacteria. An added downside to these medications is that lower stomach acid isn’t able to eliminate pathogens that come in our food. You may have unwanted guests setting up shop in your gut.
Eating Hygiene can also play a part. Not referring to whether you wash your food, but how you eat your food. This is yet another way that chewing is vital.
Don’t Ignore Bloating
If you are experiencing bloating often, it is important for you to be evaluated. This discomfort often causes time missed from work and is a leading reason for doctor visits. Yet I recommend that you seek someone who will explore the root cause.
Taking GasX or other medications may provide temporary relief, but will not solve the underlying issue. Wouldn’t you prefer to find out why you have recurring bloating?
Resolution of your bloating may involve dietary changes and possibly testing to identify whether SIBO is at play. Medications may be warranted, but antifungals or herbs to combat bacteria may do the job. I often find that boosting digestive secretions and eliminating sugar alcohols such as erythritol or xylitol are beneficial steps to take.
You don’t want to suffer with bloating for a prolonged period of time. Effectively getting to the root cause is not usually a “do it yourself” process. A trained health coach can help you follow your body’s call for action and support restore balance. I’m here if you want to talk about your situation.