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.
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.
Sipping on straws, chewing gum
These actions can cause increased intake of air into the abdominal cavity.
Solution: Avoidance or minimization when possible.
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.
- 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.
Dr. Danielle Vogler-Bos is a Naturopathic Doctor, registered and licensed in both Minnesota and Arizona. Her passion is educating and empowering her patients to take back their health, partnering with them to find the root cause of their struggles, and helping them feel better, faster. After graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology, Dr. Vogler-Bos earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ.
During her clinical training, Dr. Vogler-Bos completed a rigorous internship gaining experience in the diagnosis and treatment of hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, and adrenal fatigue using both traditional naturopathic medicine and bio-identical hormone therapies.