DIGESTIVE NEWS & REVIEW:
Everyone has experienced bloating at one time or another that feeling of fullness, tightness or swelling around your abdomen and it usually comes with burping, reflux, heart burn and excessive gas. Maybe Christmas lunch springs to mind. If your experiencing bloating on a regular basis here are eight things worth investigating.
Eight Reasons Why You May Feel Bloated
1. Hypochlorhydria – A fancy name for low stomach acid. Stomach acid is needed to prevent you from getting sick from the pathogens such as yeasts and bacteria which live on your food.
Stomach acid also stimulates the pancreas and small intestines to produce digestive enzymes. These enzymes then dismantle the foods we digest from larger components down to microscopic components that are then absorbed into the small intestine allowing the vitamins and minerals to be extracted and absorbed by your body.
2. Chewing – Chewing is a mechanical process which is not only used for breaking down the food into smaller pieces, but it also signals gastric secretions, enzymes and hormones that food is being eaten and they will need to begin their work.
Chewing also flattens the food and increases the surface area for all the enzymes to break the food down effectively. When food gets swallowed in larger chunks, it passes into the intestines only partially digested. Therefore, it is much harder for the intestines to reduce the food so it goes on to ferment and produces gas. This issue is why it is important to chew at least 20-30 times every mouthful.
3. Stress – Stress turns on our ‘fight or flight’ nervous system, which by the way is what you want if you are in a dangerous situation. When it comes to food, our body’s preferred state is ‘rest and digest.’ Fight or flight turns the body away from its bodily functions like digestion and focuses purely on survival. This reaction disrupts peristalsis, the muscular contractions that move the food through the digestive system. The food then doesn’t move through the digestive system at the appropriate speed so then ferments and produces gas.
4. Poor food choices – Choosing processed foods which are high in sugars, starches and artificial sweeteners cause bloating because the digestive system cannot break these down efficiently. The bacteria in your body also go crazy over sugar. If your gut bacteria is already out of balance, this could tip the scale.
5. Dysbiosis – Occurs when good bacteria and bad bacteria become unbalanced. This process can result from lack of good bacteria or an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Food allergies and intolerances can cause dysbiosis, but dysbiosis can also lead to food intolerances.
Medications can also change the gut flora. For instance, medicines like proton pump inhibitors reduce your natural production of hydrochloric acid, and antibiotics don’t discriminate, they kill all bacteria, even the good. This response can have lasting effects because some species of bacteria never recover and others can take up to 4 years to repopulate. Caution needs to be used with these medications.
6. Food Intolerances or sensitivities – These are as tricky as food intolerances, and can show up anywhere from ingestion to 48 hours after you’ve eaten the offending foods. They are difficult to pinpoint, and many people don’t associate that the food they ate on Monday could be affecting them on Wednesday. But if you have a sensitive digestive system, then having an intolerance or sensitivity can be a reality. Keep a food diary if you are continually having bloating issues and you will see soon be able to narrow down what’s causing the problem. Alternatively, work with a practitioner so they can guide you through an elimination diet correctly.
7. Parasite infection or bacterial infections – Parasitic infection is more common than we think. It can come on with other symptoms, such as never feeling full, feeling fatigued and tired all the time, grinding your teeth when you sleep, skin irritations and rashes, muscle and joint pain, and altered bowel habits. If you’ve been travelling, especially overseas, then this may be the start of travellers diarrhoea.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is the most common type of bacterial infection. This kind of stomach problem occurs when the bacteria from the large bowel migrate to the small bowel, where they are not supposed to be, and they overgrow causing bloating which is the main symptom. This usually is the problem if the bloating occurs above the belly button. You may also find that your stomach is flat when you wake up in the morning, but when you go to bed at night, you look pregnant.
8. Hormonal changes – Pregnancy, menopause, PMS, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), endometriosis or taking the contraceptive pill can also cause bloating. This change can be due to the fluctuating hormones and fluid retention. Bloating is a common symptom of these conditions, but it is not normal.
As you can see bloating can happen for many different reasons. It can also be a symptom of a much more serious condition. So don’t accept it, instead, investigate the cause.
About Our Digestive News and Review Columnist – Ange Sinclair
Ange Sinclair, founder of Digestive Detective is a Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist. She has a special interest in Digestive Disorders. She helps you beat the bloat, purge your pain and find the root cause of your problem using nutrition, herbal medicine and supplements.
Disclaimer: The information published in this column are the author’s professional knowledge and opinion. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.