Bloating is an astonishingly misunderstood area and along with very anti-social symptoms, can make the slimmest person feel uncomfortable. Digestive problems such as cramping, bloating, indigestion and acidity are all considered on the IBS spectrum and are incredibly common.
A food intolerance is often the first assumption people make when they get bloating after a meal, however it is a somewhat misguided way of self-diagnosing the problem, especially if the bloating tends to occur no matter what you eat!
Intolerances and allergies are most unlikely to occur out of nowhere, and if they have not been historical in nature, it’s time to think again about what could actually be causing your problem.
The digestive system requires that many things have to work together in order for it to run properly. It is a very busy function and can be incredibly sensitive to it’s environment especially when it gets out of balance, if you are stressed, putting in the wrong type of foods, taking medication, drinking alcohol or being exposed to bacteria’s in circulation or during travels.
Sometimes bloating can also be caused by more complex problems, and require further investigation from a comprehensive digestive stool analyses, hydrogen breath test, H.pylori urea breath test of an IgG food intolerance test.
A natural and everyday starting point is good to place to begin and see if it can make a difference. If not, you can contact me and we can look a little further.
- Make sure you have enough stomach acid
Stomach acid is the first stage after chewing to chemically break foods down into a soupy mix. There are a couple of enzymes also present but a strong pH is essential. Otherwise foods pass into the small intestine in large molecules and expect the environment there to take over. Stomach acid is a gravely misunderstood area with much of the population trying to neutralize acid due to discomfort of heartburn, reflux and a feeling of fullness. But more common is that you do not to have enough acid and when fatty foods, acidic foods, spices and too much food is taken, the alkaline chemicals now present cannot tolerate the food. Digestion can have a top down effect and poorly digested foods enter the small intestine and ferment with the enzymes present.
Start by taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon in water at the onset of each meal and a good digestive enzyme from the pharmacy may also be helpful. Fruits such as apple, papaya, kiwi and the core of a pineapple also have enzymes helpful for digestion and often an apple after dinner is great for reducing acidity.
Hot water with lemon, ginger, a pinch of cayenne pepper is also a champion digestive.
- Look after your micro-organisms
The gut flora or bacteria is constantly under attack by antibiotics, genetically modified foods, food spoilage, yeasts from baking and brewing, and a poor immune system. A potent Probiotic of 20 billion and above with Saccharomyces boulardii to upregulate IgA is a great boost to the gut ecosystem.
Food with added sugar or refined carbs can also cause feed the wrong types of bacteria and yeasts and allow to prosper and cause bloating. Watch foods with added sugars.
- Boost your enzymes
Digestive enzymes are mostly at work in the small bowel where acid does the work in the stomach and bacteria finishes the job in the large bowel or colon. This usually where gas, bloating and very painful trapped gas occurs.
Digestive enzymes can be purchased at a pharmacy and taken with each meal for a period of time, but you don’t want to allow your pancreas to get too lazy which can happen when you remove certain food groups.
Fruits such as papaya, kiwi, apple and pineapple are used to tenderize meat and can disrupt some cooking techniques. They also help in a similar way during digestion to further break down foods into smaller and easily digested molecules. Another enzyme called Di-Amine Oxidase (DAO) is necessary to reduce histamine forming inn the gut which can cause an allergy type reaction somewhere in the body. The only foods known to boost DAO are sprouted seeds, nuts and lentils. Otherwise it may help to take DAO as a supplement.
- Modern genetically modified (GM) gluten proteins and preservatives
GM gluten has been a bit of a game changer which may explain why you can tolerate some wheat and not others. Durum attar wheat is hard wheat and is not developed to form a elastic dough necessary for bread making. It is a hard wheat which is formed into a dough and rolled for pasta or chapattis and cooked like that. It is much easier to digest and is not likely to be from GM agriculture.
GM crops have exponentially increased the yield of grains far beyond world requirement which means they stay in storage for up to two years and must be pumped with preservatives and anti-fungals to avoid spoilage. It’s not necessarily the root of all evil but it certainly causes disruption for many people and especially if taken in quantity. Try to mix up your grains and go for the whole grain, brown, complex carbs and not refined and highly processed.
- Eat Anti-microbial foods
Our food, water and other people expose us to harmful bacteria’s all the time. Our digestive system, however is extremely well geared up to protect us from most of these, as long as it is functioning properly. Immune health is a science of its own and our own personal journey is possibly one of the biggest drivers of our overall health outcomes.
Many foods and botanicals can help such as garlic, turmeric, papaya, ginger, coconut, Pau D’arco tea, oregano, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pomegranate, cardamom, chilis, horseradish, and cayenne. If you find some of these make you more bloated, it is time to look further at identifying what is inhabiting your bowels.
Pathogenic (harmful bacteria) such as Bacillus, Blastocystis hominis and Klebsiella pneumoniae and parasites can be one of the major reasons causing irritable bowel. A plan of action may require a targeted antibiotic, antifungal and anti-parasitic medication as well as creating an environment that helps re-establish the right flora and keep it in place. A bit like changing the landscape to suit the right conditions for you.
- Chill out
Stress so often hits you in the gut as the brain and gut are partners. Not only can stress stop you secreting stomach acid and digestive enzymes, it will also impact on your balance of gut bacteria. Even more important is the effect on serotonin (the brains ‘happy hormone’) that occur when our mood changes. Serotonin is made in the gut and any disruption will impact our sleep and happiness. In fact, many motility regulators promote advanced gut signaling, supporting serotonergic and cholinergic function for healthy gut motility.
Any form of relaxation and soothing exercise will help with mood and gut motility.
If you feel your irritable bowel or digestive function is more than this and increasing gut permeability, get in touch and I can guide you through some steps.