Updated: Jul 14
We all get a little bloated from time to time, which is normal. However, if you get bloated frequently after eating meals, there could be a bigger problem.
The cause of your bloating could be something as simple as eating the wrong foods for your body or something more extensive like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), leaky gut, lack of digestive enzymes, or low stomach acid. However, to solve the problem, we need to find the root cause of your bloating.
What is Bloating?
When you experience bloating, you often feel like your stomach is full and more prominent than usual. Your pants may easily zip up in the morning, but you feel like you're bursting out of them after a meal. Getting rid of your bloating largely depends on what is causing it.
The most common cause for bloating is having gas trapped in the intestines. This can be normal as food digests, but it is essential to investigate the root cause of excessive or chronic bloating. Most of your gut bacteria should be in your large intestine and colon. However, sometimes the bacteria typically found in the large intestine and colon begin to colonize in the small intestine. When this happens, the gut bacteria have more undigested food to eat, creating an increase in gas release and bloating.
What foods cause inflammation and bloating?
Although certain foods like dairy, gluten, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables are known to cause bloating, it is less about the actual food and more about how your unique body handles different foods. Each person is individual and has different tolerances for various foods. Doing an elimination diet is the best way to see what foods are causing bloating. Completing a food sensitivity test is another good option to explore your specific sensitivities. You then remove foods you are sensitive to for a month and reintroduce them one at a time to see your reaction.
Another surprising factor in bloating can come from eating too fast. You can swallow excessive air if you eat or drink too fast, drink through a straw, chew gum, drink carbonated beverages, and talk while you eat. Anything that causes extra air while eating may cause bloating. The key here is to chew your food thoroughly and swallow your food before you talk during a meal.
Most of your gut bacteria are meant to live in the large intestine. When bacteria that are typically found in the large intestine start to colonize in the small intestine, they overgrow and cause SIBO. The bacteria thrive on undigested food in your small intestine, causing carbohydrates to ferment and produce hydrogen. Hydrogen can then feed organisms that produce methane. The production of hydrogen and methane cause you to have gas and severe bloating.
Candida is a yeast that lives in your intestines, mouth, throat, vagina, and on your skin. It is a natural part of your microbiome; however, it can cause symptoms such as bloating, constipation, fatigue, brain fog, rashes, and yeast infections when it is out of balance.
Lactose intolerance is another common cause of bloating. Some people don't produce the lactase enzyme, which helps break down dairy. When lactose travels undigested through your intestines, bacteria can begin to ferment it from causing gas.
Bloating can also stem from more serious things like Celiac and Crohn's disease, in which case it is important to be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
How can we beat the bloat?
1. If there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, it is essential to remove the gut infection.
2. You can also try eliminating gluten, dairy, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables.
3. It helps to increase fiber intake as too little fiber can cause bloating and constipation. Low fiber intake slows down your digestion and gives your food more time to ferment while in your digestive tract. When increasing your fiber, do it slowly. Adding too much fiber into your diet too quickly can actually cause more gas and bloating as your body adjusts.
4. Practice deep breathing to relieve stress and bring your body into a parasympathetic nervous system to aid overall digestion.
5. Practice eating hygiene by chewing your food and slowing down while eating.
If you suffer from regular bloating, finding a functional practitioner to complete a stool test would be wise. This test will help you evaluate the microbes in your gut that produce hydrogen and methane production as well as other digestive markers to help pinpoint your unique root cause.