Bloated? Check in with these 4 things
Bloating is an uncomfortable situation that can have hundreds of causes, making it frustrating too. Sometimes the cause for bloating is obvious and easy to find, and other times it is more elusive and layered.
For many, bloating not simply physical discomfort. Embarrassment, social isolation and the frustration that comes with not being able to sort out WHY one is bloated contribute to the mental and emotional distress of it.
Sorting out the causes of bloating is best done within a framework – it helps to organize things. It requires a bit of detective work on your part, a touch of self-exploration, but most worthwhile endeavors do, and there is hardly anything more worthy than your health.
In my experience, bloating that arises from the GI tract (rather than from hormonal shifts, fat gain, medications and such) comes from four areas:
1.The types of foods you eat
2. How you eat those foods
3. Your ability to break down those foods
4. The health and balance of the microbiome (check out my upcoming Candida Class for more)
On food: Some foods are inherently bloat-causing. Their proteins and carbohydrates are hard for the body to break down (wheat and soy) or they contain compounds that are highly fermentable to the microbiome. Gas producing carbohydrates are found in broccoli, cabbage, beans, milk products, apples, onions, garlic, stone fruits, cucumbers and other high-FODMAP foods. FODMAPs = Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides & Polyols – a fancy way to say gas-causing carbohydrates ;) Other foods like protein powders and bars, fake sweeteners and sugar alternatives and fiber supplements all can cause bloat.
So, step one: take stock of your daily and weekly nutrition. Do you eat a lot of gas-producing foods? Many of them are healthy! If you eat lots of high-FODMAP foods, swap one or two of them out for lower FODMAP versions – there are plenty out there!
On how you eat your food: next, the way in which you eat your food is important. Step two: sit when you eat, slow down, and chew your food until it is soft. Eating quickly, eating on the run, eating fast and not chewing your food well all contribute to bloat via a variety of mechanisms. You are more likely to overeat when you eat fast, and you are less likely to make enough digestive factors to break everything down. For many people, this one step is a game changer.
On how your food is broken down: you can be eating the most perfect-for-you diet, but if you cannot break it down to absorb it, not only are you depriving yourself of the full array of nutrition, you also increase chances for bloating. Unbroken particles – protein or carbohydrates – are more fermentable to the gut flora, and are more provocative to the immune system. So, if you have shored up your nutrition and are chewing your food really well, the next step is to consider taking a digestive enzyme with meals. My favorite is called Plant Digestive Enzyme Formula by Designs for Health. You can find it always at 15% off in my online dispensary (I undercut Amazon, even though I love them lol, AND you can find tons of physician developed supplements and health/body care products).
On your microbiome: lastly, if these first three steps are not yielding results, it’s time to look at the microbiome. Because probably, something is imbalanced there. Too few good guys, too many bad guys, overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, fungus, yeast (check out my free Candida Class) or parasites –> all of these scenarios are examples of dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is an imbalance of the good, healthy bacteria that populate your large intestine & serve innumerable beneficial functions for you. Dysbiosis underpins many gastrointestinal symptoms & diagnoses.
The best way to evaluate the microbiome is through a comprehensive stool test like GI MAP or Microbial Ecology. These tests are usually three-four hundred dollars. They are worth the cost for the data they provide! Once you know what bad guys you have on board – or what good guys you are missing – the path forward becomes easier.
Thus, the four step process looks like:
1. Honestly quantify the amount of gas-producing foods you eat, and make swaps if needed
2. Sit when you eat, slow down & chew your food
3. Take a digestive enzyme with your meals
4. Utilize a stool test to pinpoint dysbiosis
These four steps will identify and help the vast majority of digestive-related gas & bloating.