Bloating Causes You Might Not Consider

Bloating Causes You Might Not Consider

Bloating and bloating causes is a common complaint in our office. What is more annoying than finding yourself bothered by feeling 9 months pregnant, in pain with distention, and trying to problem solve how to get your  typical pants to zip up? Not much. 

I think we all have found ourselves questioning our lifestyle choices around alcohol, binge eating, or opting for fast food when we realize we’re bloated and uncomfortable. This is the time where the only word to nail down the situation is “*uck”!  Believe it or not, there are several reasons why we get ourselves into a bloating predicament. This guide will walk you through a comprehensive list of bloating causes, with some simple solutions. Let’s dive in!

RELATED: How to get rid of constipation for good.

Bloating Causes to Consider

Stress eating/eating in an stressful environment 

Stress. We all have it. Just ask the worker multitasking meetings and emails on their scheduled lunch break. Just ask the parent juggling the feeding of their children at the same time as they feed themselves and run another child to practice. Just ask the student who is grabbing food to go because balancing work, social life, and school is a lot!

Unfortunately, eating in a stressful environment kicks off our sympathetic response to “fight or flight,” which is chemically set up for our survival. This actually shunts resources away from our digestive system because in survival mode, there is no time for resting and digesting. Stress = reduce function of the digestive enzyme cascade and poor blood supply to the gut = poor digestion of food = bloating. 

Solution: Actually create boundaries around meal time. Stop and allow yourself to focus on a balanced, nutritious meal in a safe, calming space. Still stressed when you sit down to eat? Take a few deep breaths by inhaling 6, holding 2, and exhaling 6.

RELATED: 5 tips for mindful eating.

Eating at a fast pace/binge eating

Fast-paced eating is not good for our digestive systems. Fast-paced eating prevents proper digestion of food with the natural digestive enzymes that we produce when it’s time to eat a meal. The signs, tastes, and smells of food all provoke this cascade of enzymes to be released, so it’s important to chew slowly. 

Solution: Put your silverware down between each bite. If you want to test how quickly you are eating a meal, set a timer for 30 minutes. If you are eating faster than the allotted time, you are likely not mindfully eating your food, and that’s a good reminder to slow down! 

Consumption of dairy 

Not everyone has the ability to break down lactose, the sugar component of dairy products. It is a genetic mutation that actually allows for some people to consume lactose with no issues, but they are often the exception to the rule. 

Solution: If dairy is a clear trigger food, eliminating or reducing consumption will be best. 

Constipation 

Elimination of bowel movements daily is a must! Without proper elimination, waste is stored in the colon, causing not only unwanted bloating but also disruption to the microbiota that live there. 

Solution: Stay well hydrated, and incorporate those healthy gut healthy foods—fiber, fermented foods, and inulin rich foods! Both hydration and these gut healthy foods are needed to help create well-formed stool that can be easily passed. 

Too many carbohydrates 

Simple carbohydrates like breads, pastas, soft drinks, and pastries are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream when digested. These foods often cause water retention that results in feeling bloated in the abdomen, in addition to increasing abdominal fat. 

Solution: Know that carbs aren’t bad in moderation, but when heavily consumed they can be a culprit to bloating and other health concerns. 

RELATED: Why carbs are important if you have adrenal fatigue.

Sipping on straws, chewing gum

These actions can cause increased intake of air into the abdominal cavity. 

Solution: Avoidance or minimization when possible. 

Sugars—xylitol 

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is able to draw water into the colon. For many people, xylitol can be a well-tolerated sugar, but for some this can lead to additional bloating. 

Solution: Avoidance or minimization when possible. 

Poor stomach acid

Having low stomach acid leads to improper digestion of food; therefore, can result in a build up of unwanted bacteria in the intestines. These dysbiotic bacteria can feed and create additional gas production. 

Solutions:

  • Chew food slowly to help stimulate the digestive cascade to break down foods. 
  • Reduce processed foods, which are often poor in natural digestive enzymes. 
  • Eat fermented foods, which help increase the stomach acid.
  • Dilute a little apple cider vinegar in water and drink 15 minutes before a meal. (**Note: never take ACV without diluting. ACV can be super acidic on the enamel of your teeth!)

Conditions like IBS, IBD, SIBO, Celiac disease 

If none of the above works, or if you have other recurring symptoms along with bloating, there are a handful of conditions that could be contributing. If you are at your wits end, or tired of trying to navigate your health journey alone, do not hesitate to reach out to your local accredited naturopathic doctor from the American Association for Naturopathic Physicians Website.

Why ‘Inflammation’ Isn’t a Terrible Word

Why ‘Inflammation’ Isn’t a Terrible Word

a woman sits across a round white table with her doctor at a computer

Inflammation! Aw the infamous word. We hear the word quite often on podcasts, on social media, in health journals, and in our discussion with our friends. Even without knowing too much about what inflammation is, somehow we always associate it with a negative context.

We hear in conversation that sugar or gluten are inflammatory, and that we should avoid foods like these. We hear that conditions such as Hashimoto’s or Ulcerative Colitis are identified as inflammatory, and that we should work to address inflammation. We hear that we can have inflammatory relationships, and that we should create better boundaries. We might hear a doctor saying that when the ankle we twisted in a game of volleyball is red and swollen, it’s inflamed.

Yeah, we know the word inflammation, but do we really know what inflammation is? It seems that it can mean a lot of things but at the same time, nothing at all. So, let’s break it down.

RELATED: Should I Go Gluten Free?

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a broad spectrum word. It is used to describe the body’s immune reaction to an irritant as a means to protect the body from invasion, damage, or infection. It does so by alarming a complex immune system response to initiate the removal of an invader, clean up any damage, and initiate the healing process. Without it, morbidly, we might not make it alive very long. Basically, it can be an amazing protective mechanism allowing us to survive what might come our way.

RELATED: What is Endometriosis and How Can I Treat It Naturally?

Acute vs. Chronic Inflammation

The most pronounced, probably most formal, presentation of inflammation is in its acute form. The red, hot, swelling, pain, or impaired function that we think of when we get a sore throat, get a bruise, or sprain an ankle. It’s a generally rapid response mechanism to heal the body and get you back to your day-to-day tasks.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a longer lasting form of inflammation that is associated with lingering irritants that have failed to be managed or removed. This would include conditions that end in “itis” such as ulcerative colitis, autoimmune thyroiditis (AKA Hashimoto’s), or dermatitis. This would also include conditions like diabetes, endometriosis, or Celiac disease.

RELATED: An integrative approach to healing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Inflammation symptoms are varying in degree from condition to condition, ranging from abdominal discomfort, constipation or diarrhea, low energy, itchy or dry skin, obesity, pelvic pain, joint pain, and more. Often chronic inflammation is not life-threatening initially, but it can decrease the quality of life for an individual, and over time can increase the potential for other, higher-risk conditions of the kidneys, pancreas, heart, and liver. 

What About Autoimmune Conditions?

Autoimmune conditions are also identified under the chronic inflammation category, and is where the body’s immune system initiates an inappropriate response and attacks healthy cells within the body. The cause of autoimmune conditions are often unknown, but many theories have been discussed.

Can I Test for Inflammation?

The simple answer is YES. The complex answer is that it is not so black and white (a true integrative medicine response, right?!).

There are general screening blood labs such as CRP or ESR, liver enzymes (AST or ALT), hemoglobin A1c, or ferritin. There are labs that might be chosen based on presentation such as thyroperoxidase antibodies (TPO- Ab) or thyroglobulin antibodies (TG-Ab) to assess for Hashimoto’s,  ANA + ANA cascade with rheumatoid factors (RF) factors to look at other inflammatory conditions such Sjogren’s, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or scleroderma, or transglutaminase IgA antibodies for Celiac disease. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Other conditions are best assessed with appropriate procedures or imaging, such as irritable bowel disease or endometriosis.

Can you see the complexity? The point of listing those all out isn’t to provide you a guide to take to your doctor—it’s to show that each inflammatory condition requires specific bloodwork to identify, making “inflammation” a tricky thing to nail down.

If you aren’t tangled in the mess of inflammation already, there is an additional layer to be discussed. There are oftentimes symptoms or conditions that are identified as inflammatory, but might not have “formal testing,” that are founded based on presentation and backed by purely knowledge of biochemical presentation that is taking place. This could include symptoms of fatigue, acne, hair loss, weight gain and pelvic cramping, or conditions such as PCOS or estrogen dominant imbalances. 

Again, complex.

Can I Address Inflammation?

YES! Of course! We may not have the power to change our genes, but you can impact how genes are expressed and how you support your body’s function by adopting healthy diet and lifestyle habits. It is recommended to work with your provider to help provide a personalized plan for your needs and goals, but starting with the foundation of healthy sleep hygiene, sunshine, laughter, drinking water, and packing in your meals with nutritious foods is a fabulous place to start.

How to Prep for a Doctor Appointment About Inflammation

If you are concerned with inflammation or how inflammation could be impacting your health, consider these before your first appointment with your provider:

  • List out your current health concerns. What symptoms have been most prominent? Meditate on timeline, frequency, and severity. 
  • Document and collect family health history to help prepare for preventive strategies.
  • Come prepared with personal past medical history and a list of current medications. 
  • Assess sleep patterns, exercise patterns, water and diet intake, alcohol intake, use of recreational drugs or tobacco use, stress, chemical exposures.

The Best Way to Deal with Inflammation

If reading about inflammation (and seeing its prominence allllll over social media and medical blogs) freaks you out, take a deep breath. Overhauling your diet and lifestyle based on non-specific information you came across online isn’t what’s best for you. What’s best for you is working with a provider who listens to your symptoms, hears your whole health picture, and creates a you-specific plan to address your concerns. That’s what we do at MIMC, whether we’re treating inflammation or we identify a different health condition.

Bottom line: Don’t let inflammation become a terrible word in your vocabulary!

Having Skin Problems? How to Maximize Your Doctor Visit

Having Skin Problems? How to Maximize Your Doctor Visit

A woman examines her skin in a round mirror on the wall.

Whether impacted by acne or a notorious rash, the best resource for investigation regarding skin problems can begin with YOU! Being present and mindful about your own unique journey with your skin concern can be resourceful to unfold precious details at your initial doctor’s visit, as well as follow ups. I’ve seen many patients with skin concerns, and a number of things come in really handy to help me get to the root of the issue. Let’s look at how you can prepare when you’re heading to see your doctor about skin problems.

Document your skin problems thoroughly

Coming into a visit about skin problems, you can help your doctor by documenting details about your concerns. Completing a bullet-point list just prior to your appointment can illuminate things for your practitioner and maximize your visit.

Here’s my guide for what questions you’ll want to have the answers to before your first appointment. You could even print this list out and take notes right on the page! 

  • Location of your skin problem:
    • Is it on your back, chest, chin, cheeks, forehead, nose, extremities, etc.? 
  • If acne is your concern:
    • Is it more surface level or feel deeper (cystic)?
    • Is it white, black, red? Is it gravel textured?
  • If it is a rash or lesion:
    • How large of a surface does it cover?
    • Does it feel raised?
    • Is it hot to the touch?
    • Does it have a certain color pattern?
    • Does it have easily marketed borders or is the border irregular?
    • Is it flakey?
    • Does it itch?
    • Does itching make it better or worse?
  • Have you identified any notable triggers to your acne/rash?
    • Food
    • Beverages
    • Start of a new medication
    • Lack of hydration
    • Triggered by a temperature/season/sun or lack of sun
    • Is it worse with a certain time of the menstrual cycle?
    • Any topical exposures? New skincare products or new products in your environment (cleaning products, etc.)?
  • Have you identified any notable remarks that make the acne/rash better? Outline treatments you tried and make a note if they were not helpful, somewhat helpful, or not at all helpful, including answering these questions:
    • Avoidance of a certain exposure whether orally or topically 
    • A topical or oral medication
    • Is it better  with a certain time of the menstrual cycle
    • Sun/lack of sun
    • Increasing water?
    • Increasing fiber? 
    • Does making it dry make it better?
    • Does moisturizing make it better?
  • Severity/pain scale (0 out of 10; 10 being the worst): How much does your skin problem hurt? 

Other things you might be mindful of for your doctor’s visit

  • Hydration status—how much water do you drink on a daily basis?
  • General diet: Keep track of your breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week to show your doctor.
  • Write down all the common topical medications or skin care products you use.
  • Evaluate your digestion: Do you have digestion issues? Do you have routine bowel movements?
  • Evaluate your workout protocol: Do you work out at a gym? Do you swim? Do you rinse off after active exercise?

Dealing with skin problems can be tricky, but we’re here to help you get to the root issue! Keeping a journal of all these things before your first appointment will help you understand your skin concerns and communicate them to your doctor easily.

Ask Me Anything with Dr. Danielle Vogler-Bos

Ask Me Anything with Dr. Danielle Vogler-Bos

Dr danielle vogler bos

In our newest series, you’ll get a chance to ask one of our practitioners alllll the questions on your mind. We sourced these initially from Instagram, so keep an eye out for the next round to get your question answered by an MIMC staff member. Plus, check out Dr. Cassie’s AMA here and Dr. April’s AMA here.

What tips do you have for hormonal acne?

RELATED: More tips for at-home hormonal acne treatments.


How is gut health linked to skin health?

RELATED: Could your skin issues be yeast overgrowth or candida? We talk through the symptoms.


Why is it important to use organic/clean period products?

RELATED: Your guide to a toxin-free period (including our top picks for pads, tampons, and menstrual cups).

Glutathione Benefits for Your Health and Body

Glutathione Benefits for Your Health and Body

A doctor adds a vitamin to a syringe.

Glutathione has been gaining traction. It is THE ultimate antioxidant and anti-carcinogen, made and recycled within our body naturally. It quenches free radicals and reduces oxidative stress on the body making it one of our best defenders. Let’s break down this trending supplement and learn more about why it might be right for you.

What IS glutathione?

Glutathione is a tri-peptide structure made up of cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Although it can be found in several organs and tissues throughout the body, it is highly concentrated at the liver, kidneys, reproductive organs, and even within red blood cells.

RELATED: New to functional medicine? Start with these lab tests.

What does glutathione do?

Glutathione has a propensity to attach to electrophiles (think of “loose cannons”), which helps prevent genetic mutations, cellular damage, and toxic injury. In addition, glutathione has the ability to support the detoxification of fat-soluble toxins by making them water-soluble and ready for kidney excretion. 

What are fat soluble toxins, you may ask?

Think:

  • Parabens from personal products and cleaners
  • BPA and other BP derivatives from plastics 
  • Heavy metals like tin, lead (from paint), mercury (from amalgams and fish) 
  • Fuels & flame retardants
  • Although not necessarily a toxin, estrogen is also a fat-soluble substance that needs to be removed as well!

…just to name a few. 

Common reasons glutathione is depleted

Although there is research that has shown that glutathione production naturally reduces with age, it also increasingly reduced by:

  • alcohol use
  • increased toxic burden from chemical, heavy metal, and mold exposures (as listed above)
  • chronic use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) 
  • Diets rich in fructose 
  • Stress

RELATED: How to clean up your beauty routine.

How can I increase my glutathione levels?

For this reason, improving glutathione levels can be gently improved through food sources. 

Foods high in glutathione include: 

  • High Sulfur Rich Foods: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale watercress, mustard seed, garlic, shallots, onions 
  • Vitamin C Rich Foods: Kiwis, strawberries, citrus, bell peppers, papayas
  • Selenium-Rich Foods: Brazil nuts, organ meats, beef, fish, chicken, brown rice
  • Spices: Curucmin and turmeric

RELATED: What supplements should I take?

Do I need glutathione supplementation?

Of course on a case by case scenario, some patients will require more need and glutathione support! That’s why we offer membership at MIMC. Working with one of our providers to identify nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, toxic burden, and inflammation through appropriate testing and case work up, can help to identify if supplementation is further warranted—and get tailored health recommendations that are right for YOU.