5 min|Dr. Taylor Green
Feeling Bloated? Here's 10 Reasons WhyGut Health
Most of us experience some degree of bloating from time to time.
Bloating is one of the most commonly reported gastrointestinal complaint. It can be normal to feel bloated after eating a very large meal or after ingesting food quickly, as this allows excess air to enter the stomach. However, if bloating & discomfort is experienced after eating almost anything, or has persisted daily for six months or more with unidentifiable food triggers, this is cause for concern as there may be bigger issues at play.
Bloating is an uncomfortable manifestation of excess air or gas in the digestive tract. For many, the sensation of our abdomen feeling full and tight can be painful. Other common associated symptoms include increased gas (flatulence), belching, heart burn, abdominal gurgling, and changes in bowel movements.
10 Common Causes of Chronic Bloating
The majority of our healthy microbiome resides in the large intestine and colon. Unlike the large intestine, the small intestine normally contains few bacteria as this is the primary site where digestive enzymes and bile mix with food to begin its breakdown. However, a number of factors can cause migration of bacteria into the small intestine. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is characterized by excessive types of gas-producing bacteria that have migrated into the small intestine. It can be caused by a number of factors such as antibiotic use, acute gastritis (food poisoning) infection, slowed bowel transit, low stomach acid, surgery, medications, and structural defects. Certain medical conditions such as Crohn’s, diverticulosis, and diabetes also increase the risk of SIBO.
2. Food intolerance or allergy
Food intolerances and allergies cause inflammation in the gut and can lead to bloating. When there is inflammation, the lining of the intestines can become leaky, allowing for food particles to escape the digestive tract. A food intolerance can mean you lack the enzymes needed to properly breakdown and absorb certain foods. When a food is not able to be absorbed, it ferments in the colon producing gas. Common intolerant and inflammatory foods are gluten & wheat, dairy, eggs, corn, and GMO soy.
At the root of almost all conditions is STRESS. When we feel anxious or constantly stressed, our brain and body goes into “fight or flight” mode and halts physiological processes such as food digestion that require us to be in a “rest and digest”, or parasympathetic state. Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline impair gut motility, stomach acid secretion, and digestive enzyme output. The body
does not prioritize digesting a meal when it is under the impression that we are being chased by a lion. While that type of treat may no longer be the case today, the nervous and adrenal system still view physical and emotional treats as the same.
Candidiasis is a condition to describe overgrowth of yeast, Candida albicans and similar species in the GI tract of other mucosal tissues. Candida is a normal inhabitant of our microbiome at healthy levels. However, it can become an opportunist pathogen under the right circumstances, over colonizing the digestive tract and other tissues causing a wide array of symptoms that include bloating. Antibiotic use, high consumption of sugar and carbohydrates, chronic stress, and those who are immunocompromised are at a high risk of Candida overgrowth.
Loosely translates to “stomach paralysis” where there is a delayed emptying of food from the stomach. This can cause symptoms such as bloating, nausea, heart burn, and early fullness after eating meals.
How many bowel movements per day is considered normal? While there are varying opinions, generally 1-3 well-formed bowel movements a day is considered normal. The longer stool sits in the colon, the more time bacteria have to ferment it and create gassy by-products. Moreover, chronic constipation can wreck havoc on our hormonal system since toxic estrogen metabolites are eliminated in the stool. These can resorb into the system when stool is stagnant for a prolonged time. It is imperative to get to the root of the constipation cause.
Constipation is a very common symptom of a sluggish thyroid. When the gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, this slows down many body functions including bowel movements. TSH alone, the blood marker typically used to screen thyroid function, is not enough as a stand alone test to depict conditions of a suboptimal thyroid. Furthermore, prolonged stress has a direct suppressive impact on thyroid hormone activity.
8. Pancreatic Insufficiency
The pancreas is responsible for producing and secreting a number of digestive enzymes needed for the proper breakdown and absorption of our food. Intermittent constipation can result if the pancreas fails to produce enough needed in the digestive tract.
9. Endometriosis, Fibroids, and Ovarian Cysts
Hormonal pelvic conditions are an often overlooked cause of lower abdominal bloating. Bloating typically worsens around menstruation and is accompanied with
significant pain and possibly heavier menstrual bleeding. These should be considered in all women with unexplained bloating.
10. H. pylori Infection
This type of bacteria is a normal resident of the upper GI. However, certain conditions of the stomach environment can allow it to overgrow and cause significant symptoms that include bloating, heart burn, belching, nausea, abdominal pain, and tarry stools. If left untreated, H. pylori can cause stomach and small intestinal ulcerations.
Our digestion sets the stage for optimal health & vitality!
To get to the bottom of your bloating, speak with your Naturopathic Physician about appropriate testing and individualized treatment. Book an appointment today!
Dr. Taylor Green
Dr. Taylor Green has always been fascinated by the intricacies of nature, the human body and health sciences. For her, health is not defined by the absence of disease, but the balance between mind, body, and environment.