Bloating is generally the result of not being able to properly digest foods. These not-so-digested foods end up feeling like they are just sitting around causing discomfort and a general sensation of fullness and is also often accompanied by gas. As we age there is a decline in the production of hydrochloric acid, which is responsible for a major part of the process of digestion and absorption of nutrients. Parietal cells secrete around 2 liters of hydrochloric acid daily to establish the optimal pH for effective function of digestive enzymes. This acid is also responsible for killing bacteria in addition to aiding in digestion by making food soluble. Sufficient hydrochloric acid is critical for smooth digestion. Unfortunately, the decline in HCl can have wide-ranging effects on all of our digestion abilities “downstream” and that can result in bloating.
Bloating Cause #1:
Sometimes our bodies are (or become more as we age) sensitive to the fiber in certain fruits or veggies. This can also occur when we introduce new ones into our diet as it may take a while for our body to get used to them.
Pro Tip: Try chewing your vegetables more thoroughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones. If a fruit or veggie seems to be consistently related to bloating, try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms. Add in prebiotic containing foods to aid in overall digestion and the effectiveness of the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Foods such as apples, garlic, asparagus, leeks, bananas, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, chicory root, onion and jicama are all high in prebiotic fiber.
Add in Just Better Prebiotic Fiber for quick and amazing results in reducing bloating, abdominal weight gain, improved bowel movements, decreased cholesterol and triglycerides.
Bloating Cause #2:
Decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme called “pepsin”. This means that the proteins you eat are inefficiently broken down and they can pass through your system somewhat “undigested”.
Pro Tip: Consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and monitor your symptoms. Start by having one vegetarian meal per day and increase from there. Download one of my plant-based menu plans here.
Add in Apple Cider Vinegar to increase production of HCl. Begin with 1 Tbsp. in water 20 min. before a meal.
Add in a Digestive enzyme with HCl to aid in the proper digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. My favourite is BioGest - take 1-2 capsules with each protein containing meal.
Bloating Cause #3:
If your digestive system slows down and bowel movements become challenging and constipation is occurring, bloating will certainly follow!
Causes of constipation include:
- Lack of dietary fiber
- Insufficient water intake
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Food sensitivities
- Compromised microbiome
- SIBO (see below)
- Mould toxicity
- Magnesium deficiency
Ginger aids with digestion and reduction of nausea in some cases. Peppermint has been found to help your digestive muscles effectively pushing food through the digestive system allowing for an improved transit time.
Pro Tip: Drink a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger. See my recipe below.
Bloating Cause #4:
Poor digestion puts extra stress on all of the digestive organs and especially on the large intestine. The large intestine is the home to of all of your wonderful gut microbes that have SO many functions in the body. The problem is when undigested food enters the large intestine it can feed the not-so-great microbes. These “unfriendly” bacteria produce waste material as well as gas as a part of their natural metabolism. The more of these unfriendly microbes you have in your system (they will multiply if they are constantly being fed by undigested food in the large intestine) the more gas that will be produced in the large intestine.
Pro Tip: Try eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system to keep the bad guys at bay. This includes things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these do not cause bloating for you). If you cannot tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir, dairy free options are available or you could make your own dairy free versions.
Add in a therapeutic, multi-strain probiotic to re-establish a healthy microbiome.
Bloating Cause #5:
With reduced stomach acid you also have a reduction of the “activation” of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them). In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food they need to be activated. This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid.
Pro Tip: You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on re-establishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!). My favourite is BioGest - take 1-2 capsules with each protein containing meal.
Bloating Cause #6:
SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth is a common underlying cause in people suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and reflux. It is estimated that 80% of people with IBS have SIBO.
SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, is defined as an increase in the number of bacteria, and/or changes in the types of bacteria present in the small bowel. In most patients, SIBO is not caused by a single type of bacteria but is an overgrowth of the various types of bacteria that should normally only be found in the large intestine.
Symptoms of SIBO:
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Chronic Illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, neuromuscular disorders, and autoimmune diseases
- Fat Malabsorption
- Gas, bloating, and diarrhea
- IBS or IBD
- Increasing food intolerances or sensitivities
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Rosacea and other skin rashes
- Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Try my Pro tips for 2-3 weeks and you should notice a profound difference in your bloating. If bloating is a serious problem for you, I recommend booking an appointment to discover the root cause of your issues.