What is causing my bloating?
Ok, I have included four surprising reasons for bloating not three, I just had to include them and could have added another 10 more!
To understand the cause of bloating (and let’s get straight in there and lay it on the line, probably a fair amount of wind!) you need to consider all possible contributing factors and find the root cause/s.
Firstly, to put your mind at rest, bloating is very common; approximately 20% of people in the UK complain of bloating and don’t know the cause, it is the single-most common reason that people get in touch with me for my help.
Not only is bloating a common symptom, it is usually not serious and is simply a build-up of gas trying to escape. However, it can cause a lot of concern when you don’t know why it is happening, not to mention the discomfort and embarrassment when it is accompanied with excess wind.
As a Nutritional Therapist with over 7 years clinical experience I have worked through the potential root causes many times with clients. You might like to think of me as a kind of health detective, digging for clues to find the cause of your symptoms or condition. I have detailed below some common, yet surprising causes of bloating. Of course, we are all unique, so if you don’t think any of these causes apply to you, there are other routes for us to consider and its best for us to have a friendly chat so I can find out a little more about you.
When it comes to stress, some people are affected more than others, but I see commonly see clients who suffer with anxiety and depression who have been told they have IBS. Bloating and IBS symptoms can often be worse in times of stress, so try to relax and find some ways to calm any anxiety as this will only exacerbate symptoms. You could try a relaxing hot bath or some deep-breathing exercises; I like the Calm breathing bubble https://www.calm.com/breathe , or going for a walk in nature or settling down with a warming drink and a good book.
Stress is often difficult to avoid but if you are stressed, that is probably not the best time to eat the “superfood chickpea salad” which is difficult to breakdown and digest due to the higher amount of plant fibre. Although that is a wonderfully healthy meal, it may be better to choose a nourishing stew or soup where the food has been partially broken down by the cooking process, making it easier to digest; such as my broccoli and ginger soup ginger is very calming on the gut and aids digestion.
Chewing sounds so simple but honestly, it is one of the hardest things that I ask my clients to do to improve their digestive health and reduce bloating. You need to allow chewing time to get saliva around all of the food. Saliva contains amylase a digestive enzyme that begins to breakdown the food in the mouth. When we don’t chew our food properly before swallowing it, the food arrives into the stomach in larger pieces than it should and ferments leading gas production; methane and hydrogen, build up and lead to acid reflux, indigestion and give you that feeling of fullness, and discomfort and eventually will result in some burping and/or flatulence.
Gas build up can become more of a problem when the gas produced is either excessive and/or can’t escape easily. This can happen when bacteria are present in larger numbers in the small intestines. When gas is produced and builds up in the small intestines, which is a much smaller tube and tied off at each end by the pyloric and ileocecal sphincters – literally trapping the gas! it can become very uncomfortable and result in the abdomen feeling distended and is linked to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO. You can find out more about functional testing options to see if you have SIBO by getting in touch with me.
Chewing your food more seems such as simple step, but it can be a very common cause of bloating. You have a mouthful of teeth for good reason helping you break the food down into small pieces ready for the stomach acid to breakdown food molecules further on reaching the stomach. Avoid eating on the go and try to chew your food about 20-30 times before swallowing and allow time to rest and digest after eating. It can feel like you are a cow chewing the cud, but seriously, it can be a game-changer. Let me know how you get on.
We have trillions of bacteria naturally present inside our Large intestine; this is called our gut microbiome. Sometimes, when the bacteria is imbalanced and found in too low or high amounts we call this Dysbiosis. This can be a leading cause of many problems of which bloating is a common symptom. Under normal, healthy conditions, the bacteria feast off the fibres and starches of food that you can’t digest producing short chain fatty acids and B vitamins that keep our gut healthy as well as modulate our immune system and even affect our mood. 70% of our immunity lies in our gut lining and is modulated by these bacteria. It is also worth remembering that approximately 80% of our serotonin; our happy hormone, is made in the gut, which is why we might see anxiety and low mood often alongside gut problems.
An imbalance gut microbiome or dysbiosis, can happen after a poor diet, infection, antibiotics, medications and stress and can cause a miriad of future problems that can even become systemic and is the start of “leaky gut” that can trigger autoimmunity.
The good news is that you can help to build up your family of healthy bacteria to keep your gut microbiome balanced by eating a healthy diet rich in diversity. This is the reason I created my Good Gut Point System, an easy to follow infographic point system that guides you to include the right amount of particular foods known to feed your gut microbiome for longterm health benefits.
Fibre or food intolerance?
In some case’s the bloating is caused by eating certain foods, this is often difficult to work out on your own and can lead to a lot of confusion and frustration, especially if you go to Dr. Google for answers! The information out there is vast, at best it is flaky and unsubstantiated and at worst it is down-right dangerous! Food intolerances can be a cause for bloating and other symptoms for which I can help you work out which foods are a problem for you using a process of dietary modification and functional testing as part of a one to one consultation with me.
I like to think of fibre as an essential nutrient as it is critical to your gut microbiome, but in some cases plant-based foods that are high in a particular type of fibre that is difficult to breakdown and digest that can be a real problem for some people.
These foods are known as FODMAPS which stands for: fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols which are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and are prone to absorb water and ferment in the large intestine. following a low FODMAP diet can be helpful as shown in this meta-analysis and can help temporarily reduce bloating/gas for many. However, it is important to get help from a specialist when undertaking a big change in diet. FODMAPS are mostly healthy foods and removing them may remove a large amount of nutrients.
Looking at the long-term goal I believe these high-fibre foods should be included as part of a healthy diet which I help my clients develop through careful dietary modification Remember, the end goal is always to enjoy eating a wide variety of healthful foods to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need but you may need specialist guideance to help you do this as fibre isn’t everyone’s friend to start with. If you would like my help if you know these kinds of foods cause you to have more bloating/gas/loose stools or constipation please get in touch with me for a FREE chat and consider my Gut Transformation Package which includes a functional stool test to find the root cause.
Let’s have a chat!
Try some of the tips above and let me know how you get on. The root cause/s of your bloating may be from a combination of the above or could be due to damage to the gut lining, bacteria overgrowth, SIBO, poor digestion or food intolerances! The best way to find a solution is to have a chat with me so I can find out a little more. Book your complimentary call with me today
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