What you need to know about bloating
I think it’s safe to say that bloating is something we have all experienced, some of us too frequently. While bloating is common and a part of normal physiology, persistent bloating is not. In today’s post, we’re talking about common causes of bloating, how we dig deeper to find the root cause of your bloating, trigger foods, and foods to relieve bloat.
What causes bloating?
The feeling of being bloated is the result of having build-up gas within your GI tract resulting in uncomfortable stomach distention. This excess gas occurs when digestion is impaired, causing food particles to remain partially undigested as they move through your GI tract. Eventually, these food particles will begin to ferment, releasing gas. As mentioned above, bloating to an extent is normal; for example, if you just had a large meal and feel stuffed, you’re likely to feel bloated too. However, if your bloating is persistent, there are a handful of underlying reasons.
Common causes of bloating:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities
- Not chewing your food thoroughly
- Inadequate digestion of foods
- Histamine intolerance
- Low stomach acid
- Gut dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria in the gut)
- Leaky Gut
- Small bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- H. Pylori
- IBS (hint: the root cause of IBS is probably on this list)
Suffering from bloat is REAL, and the only way to resolve it is to get to the root cause, and to do so, working with a health professional is highly encouraged. At Isabel Smith Nutrition and Lifestyle, we work closely with our clients to get to the root cause of bloating through our holistic approach. In many cases, we like to run a stool diagnostic test to gain a deeper understanding of what’s going on in the gut. A stool test is extremely valuable and helps us to see the following –
- The types and amount of bacteria present in your gut
- How well you’re digesting food
- Leaky gut
- Worms and parasites
- Autoimmune markers
- The strength of your immune system
- Gluten intolerance or signs of Celiac Disease
Food and diet triggers
Going to the bathroom regularly (this means daily) is key for good digestion. This makes sense if you think about it; the longer food/waste is trapped inside you, the more it will ferment, and the more gas will be released. This is why your diet greatly impacts your digestion. To promote healthy and frequent bowel movements, it’s essential you eat enough fiber. The amount of fiber varies by the client, but the sources of fiber we recommend come from fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
On the other hand, consumption of too many vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables, can make matters worse (for some people!). Cruciferous veggies include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, arugula, brussel sprouts, collards, watercress and radishes. While these veggies have a ton of health benefits and are high in fiber; they can be difficult to digest because of their sulfur-containing chemicals called glucosinolates and chemicals called raffinose which humans don’t have the enzyme to digest, causing bloat. This doesn’t mean we should avoid them altogether, but eating smaller portions of them in one sitting can be helpful!
Foods that can often cause bloating:
- Dairy products
- Cruciferous Foods
- High-fodmap foods
- Beans and legumes
- Carbonated drinks
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks
- Highly processed foods
- Chewing gum
- Gums in processed foods (ex: guar gum, xantham gum, acacia gum)
We suggest working with a health professional to strategically remove and reintroduce these foods to determine what is triggering you. In many cases, once trigger foods are identified and eliminated in many cases, they can be successfully reintroduced without symptoms once the underlying cause is treated.
Foods that alleviate bloating
The good news is that there are foods that can actually help to relieve bloat by aiding digestion.
Foods/supplements that help alleviate bloating:
- Ginger and turmeric
- Lemon and limes
- Herbal teas (ginger, mint, dandelion)
- Melons – watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew
- Non- starchy veggies: zucchini, celery, cucumber, asparagus, artichokes
- Starchy veggies: potatoes, turnips, squash
- Lettuces: romaine, spinach, butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce
- Bone or vegetable broth
- Probiotics (note that probiotics do not help everyone!)
- Low-fodmap foods
For more, be sure to check out our post on bloat-free beach snacks!
Another tip if you are suffering from bloating is to try to eat warming foods and cook your vegetables rather than eat them raw. Cooking your veggies helps to break down their natural fibers, making digestion easier on your body.
The Bottom Line
Feeling bloated is NO fun, but the good news is that you don’t have to feel this way forever. Getting to the root cause of your bloating is KEY to start feeling relief. Start by identifying your trigger foods and work with a health professional to help diagnose potential underlying causes.