Are you bloated right now?
Concerned about how you are going to keep your pants done up throughout the day?
Worried you may snap in half with the amount of pressure on your abdomen or that you may accidently relax for a second and goodness me, a bit of gas slips out?!
I remember living my days full of dread and worry all because of my digestive system!
Bloating comes in many forms and occurs for many reasons. It can be related to digestion, but it’s not easy to change your symptoms especially with such conflicting advice out there. But one things is for sure, bloating can drag you down and leave feeling uncomfortable within yourself.
But what are the causes for bloating?
Bloating comes down to 5 main causes with many sub-categories:
Bloating is caused by a gas build-up. Other symptoms often related include: excessive flatulence or burping, an urgency to pass a bowel motion and feeling nauseous.
The gas comes from:
- Certain foods such as those that you are currently intolerant to
- An infection
This is something I commonly see due to our diet, stress levels and our lifestyle around eating. Other symptoms that commonly coincide with bloating include: reflux and undigested food in your stools.
The gas is caused by:
- Eating too much
- A lack of digestive juices to break down the food
- Too much alcohol
- Medications such as ibuprofen that irritate the digestive lining
Bloating can be caused by dysbiosis of the large intestine. Dysbiosis is an imbalance of our digestive bugs, with an overgrowth of a less desirable bug or low numbers of our healthy bacteria. Bloating can also be caused by SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which is where bacteria have migrated to the small intestine from the large intestine and this causes bloating.
Infection is another key part of the dysbiosis picture. If there is an infection of the gastrointestinal tract, this can cause gas and bloating and an imbalance of bacteria.
Dysbiosis usually causes additional symptoms such as: constipation or diarrhoea, nausea and food intolerances.
Bloating and abdominal discomfort can be caused by gynecological disruptions such as pre-menstrual syndrome, endometriosis, or other disruptions.
The bloating may be cyclical in nature but many times it's not.
The bloating usually coincides with: abdominal pain, cramping, altered bowel movements and is usually less related t the food you have consumed.
Constipation is sometimes the cause of bloating, not just a symptom that coincides.
Constipation can be caused by: a lack of fibre in the diet, dehydration, particular medications, food intolerances, pregnancy and other nutritional deficiencies such as magnesium.
So how do we address bloating?
- The first thing you can do is keep a diary tracking food, bloating and stress levels. This can give you a lot of insight and can be helpful when seeing a practitioner.
- Get moving - exercise is a great way to get your body including your digestive system moving. It’s beneficial for your gut microbiome also and can assist to reduce the bloat.
- Chew and eat mindfully. This sounds so simple, however how many of us are shovelling our food in at mealtimes whilst watching TV? Chewing breaks down our food making digestion easier reducing the chance of fermentation occurring. Aim to chew each mouthful a minimum of 20 times, at the same time you can enjoy your meal as we only have tastebuds in our mouth!
- Lower stress levels. I know this sounds challenging especially if your digestive symptoms are causing stress, however lowering stress assists in reducing cortisol levels which in turn increases your digestion.
Bloating is a very individualised symptom and if you are sick and tired of feeling uncomfortable, please book a consult to discuss and reduce your symptoms sooner rather than later.