Do you feel uncomfortable after eating? Are your pants tighter than normal without any weight gain? Do you get “food baby” after a meal? Are you asking yourself - Why am I bloated?
There are many reasons why people experience bloating. As a Naturopathic Doctor, my mission is to find the root of the issue - and figure out what is actually going on, so that we can find a solution to help the body correct itself. An area of focus in my practice is digestion. Chronic bloating, medically termed “abdominal distention” is a common concern among patients. Not only can it be uncomfortable physically, bloating also can affect one’s self esteem and body image. Based on a thorough intake, here are some of reasons why bloating occurs:
Low Stomach Acid, medically termed “hypochlorhydria”
The acidity of our stomach is essential for an optimal digestive process. When we aren’t producing enough stomach acid, or are diluting it or inhibiting its production, our food isn’t able to break down properly. Imagine you have one bowl of battery acid and a second bowl of battery acid- if one is half full, and diluted with water, then you put a piece of bread in both- which one would break down the food better? The concentrated, undiluted acid. There are a few different simple strategies used to assess and treat low stomach acid.
Bacterial and Yeast Imbalances
Our gut is home to many different species of bacteria and yeast- they are essential in the right balance. Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) and excess yeast growth (Candida) can wreak havoc on our digestive tract. When there is an excess of the “bad” bacteria and yeast, the digestive process is impaired, more gases are produced (bloating) and more nutrient deficiencies result. There are effective ways to both test for and treat SIBO and Candida.
Food Intolerances and Sensitivities
A food intolerance is an inability to digest certain foods (enzyme deficiency) or and inability to absorb certain foods. When those undigested foods are left in the gastrointestinal tract they are fermented by the gut flora, creating gas and bloating. A food sensitivity is an immune response our body makes to a protein particle in the food. This can create inflammation in our gut (and systemically in the body). Sensitivities and intolerances can also lead to constipation. When bowel movements are not consistent, a feeling of discomfort and fullness occurs. Naturopathic doctors have multiple ways of testing for food sensitivities and intolerances.
Eating when we’re stressed or multitasking
We have a parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and a sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). When we are eating while “on the run” or “at the desk” our body is not primed to eat because our sympathetic nervous system is dominant (the blood flows to our brain and muscles- and away from out gut- allowing us to be alert and responsive). When we’re in a relaxed state (parasympathetic nervous system), hungry and enjoying our food our entire digestive tract functions optimally. Often the problem is not “what” we’re eating, but “how” we’re eating it.
You can start feeling better…
Often a combination of the above factors is involved when a person complains of feeling bloated. Bloating is a symptom of an underlying issue - and when that issue is identified and resolved, the distention is alleviated and many other areas of that individual’s health and well-being improve.
If you’re curious to learn more or would like to book in with Dr. Marnie Luck, ND feel free to book a complimentary 15 minute consult here.