Why Do You Bloat and How Can You Fix It?
By Patrick Giammarise
Ever noticed that a pair of pants or a dress fits you fine, and then a few hours after eating your belly seems so bloated that you look as if you swallowed a balloon? It’s embarrassing and annoying and can be a confidence killer in social situations.
If you frequently experience bloating after eating, perhaps you have tried to figure it out: What’s causing my stomach to bloat? And what can I do about it?
One of the most common reasons for bloating is that you may not be completely digesting your food. Several factors play a role in not being able to digest your food properly.
One is reduced stomach-acid production. Our stomachs produce hydrochloric acid so that we can activate enzymes to help us digest our food. Stomach acid, once mixed with our food by the churning action of the stomach, becomes the signal for the gallbladder to release bile. The amount of acid coming from the stomach determines how much bile the gallbladder releases. Bile aids in emulsifying fat so we can digest it.
Without adequate amounts of stomach acid, we are unable to completely digest our food. Unfortunately, our production of stomach acid starts to decrease significantly after the age of 40. And by age 60 half of us do not make enough stomach acid to digest our food!
Not only does aging affect stomach-acid production, but so also does taking medications. Many medications inhibit your digestion and cause people to bloat. Antacids and acid-blocking drugs, such as Prilosec and Nexium, may offer you relief from acid reflux, but they do it at the price of reducing your stomach acid, thus reducing your ability to digest your food.
Deficiencies Lead to Bloating
Another reason that some of us bloat is that we do not make adequate amounts of enzymes, which are chemical catalysts that allow us to break down our food into digestible particles. Unfortunately, just as with stomach acid, our production of enzymes starts to steadily decline significantly after the age of 40.
Inadequate enzyme production can lead to food intolerances, which is the inability to digest certain food groups. You are probably familiar with lactose intolerance. When a person is lactose intolerant, he or she does not make enough of the lactase enzyme, which digests milk sugar. Lactose intolerance usually results in much bloating, gas, diarrhea, and cramping.
Other food intolerances may also result in bloating. It’s not uncommon to see people with intolerances to starchy and sugary carbohydrates, fat, protein, and FODMAPs. The acronym FODMAP refers to fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. If saccharides sounds like sugars to you, you are right! These are all different types of sugars found in certain foods that can ferment in the gut when not completely digested.
So what happens when you don’t digest your food? Without enough hydrochloric acid and enzymes to digest your food, trillions of bacteria and yeast in your gut start to breed and feed on the undigested food. This is when the bloating problem starts to really ripen.
Gut Imbalance Leads to Bloating
Normally the intestinal ecosystem contains good bacteria (such as probiotics), harmful bacteria, and yeast. When our microbial colonies are out of balance, there is no longer a symbiosis, that is, “living in harmony”; instead we have just the opposite, known as dysbiosis. When we have dysbiosis, we have fertile soil for Candida or fungal overgrowth, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (known as SIBO).
If you are not producing enough stomach acid or enzymes to digest your food, yeast and harmful bacteria in the gut have the perfect conditions to multiply and create dysbiosis. Yeast or Candida, as it is often called, feeds on undigested sugars and starches, and harmful bacteria in our gut feed on undigested protein. This mixture of hungry bacteria and yeast combined with abundant amounts of undigested food creates a keg party in our guts! The yeast and bacteria ferment the undigested food and produce excessive amounts of gas—gas that fills your intestines and abdomen to create the kind of swelling that makes your clothes tighter. That’s fundamentally how poor digestion makes you bloat.
Another source of bloating is food allergies and food sensitivities. Your body may not be able to digest and process specific foods. This often produces an allergy-like reaction that produces inflammation, or bloating. Just as a wrist or knee swells after an injurious fall, so too do your intestines respond to modulate the gut damage caused by the food we cannot digest properly.
The Bloating Fix
As you can see, bloating may be a complex problem to fix because there are many causes that are intertwined … like a can of worms. Traditional doctors and other health-care practitioners often focus their attention on Candida or SIBO by prescribing antifungal and antibacterial agents. This may provide only temporary relief for patients without ever treating the real causes, which are poor digestion or food sensitivities.
The good news is that we have helped thousands of people overcome bloating and bowel problems. Our approach first identifies which foods you are not digesting properly and then we desensitize your body to the foods to which you have allergic-like reactions. Then we assess what digestive organs are not functioning at optimal levels and enhance the digestive system’s ability to digest your food.
If you are bloating or have other stomach and bowel problems, give our office a call to schedule a consultation with Dr. Patrick at 530-899-8741, attend one of our free educational seminars, or visit our website at www.digestionreliefcenter.com.
Since 1999, Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, has helped North State residents by using a whole-body systems approach to health. He specializes in providing natural relief for food and environmental sensitivities, intolerances, and digestive problems. For more information contact Dr. Patrick at 530-899-8741 or visit www.DigestionReliefCenter.com.
© 2015. Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC. All Rights Reserved.