Why you Bloat and how to reduce it

June 13, 2017
Lyndall McAlpine

Bloating can be a very uncomfortable problem causing discomfort and a general feeling of being stuffed and “gassy”.

Normally when we eat, cells in our stomach release acid which is important for so many digestive processes like breaking down foods and activating enzymes.  In some people (and especially when we age) our stomach’s ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion is reduced.

Unfortunately, when this process becomes less efficient the result wreaks havoc on the rest of the digestive system having wide-ranging effects on all of our digestion abilities “downstream” such as:

Undigested food – In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food they need to be activated, this usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid. With reduced stomach acid you have a reduction of the “activation” of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them). If the proteins aren’t broken down sufficiently they can pass through your system somewhat “undigested”.

All this lack of digesting in your stomach and small intestine puts extra stress on the large intestine.  The large intestine is the home of all of your wonderful gut microbes that have sooo many functions in the body.  The problem is when undigested food enters the large intestine it can feed the not-so-great microbes.  These “unfriendly” bacteria produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism.  The more of these microbes you have in your system (they will multiply if they are constantly being fed by undigested food) the more gas will be produced in the large intestine.

One thing that can seriously cause bloating is when your digestive system slows down.  Then things seem to be a bit stagnant, just hanging around in there a bit (a lot?) longer than you’d like.

Sensitive to fibre  – Sometimes our bodies are (or become more as we age) sensitive to the fibre in certain fruits or vegies.  This can also occur when we introduce new foods into our diet as it may take a while for our body to get used to them.

:  Try chewing your vegetables more thoroughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones.  If a fruit or vegie seems to be consistently related to bloating try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.

  Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger (See recipe below). Ginger has been found to help with digestion and reduce nausea for certain people.  And peppermint is thought to help your digestive muscles keep pushing food through, so it doesn’t stay in one spot for too long. Getting extra fibre in your diet should also help with movement but make sure you are keeping up with your water intake!

  Try eating more fermented foods.  Fermented foods contain probiotics –  good bacteria and microbes that live in your gut. These include things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these don’t cause bloating for you!).  If you can’t tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir then dairy free options are available or you could make your own dairy free versions. Prebiotics are non-digestible part of foods like bananas, onions and garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, the skin of apples. Prebiotic fiber goes through the small intestine undigested and is fermented when it reaches the large colon. This fermentation process feeds the beneficial bacteria colonies and helps to increase the number of desirable bacteria and keep the bad guys at bay

Probiotic supplementation is also a great idea and Usana Fibergy’s inulin content also feeds the good bacteria

  You may consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and see if that helps you out (most of us eat way too much animal based food anyway so if you do, give it a go). You may consider trying a digestive enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on re-establishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!).  But before you do make sure you read the labels because some of them interact with other supplements, medications, or conditions, and may not be safe for long-term use.

  • Maybe you’d prefer working with me on an elimination diet to get to the bottom of which foods you may be sensitive to, book in for a free consult at contact page to see if I may be able to help
  • My 7 Day Detox is a great way to kick start your digestion health, with a full meal plan filled with yummy, healthy, gut nourishing foods plus a Supplements Package option which includes probiotics to replenish your good bacteria, fibre (with also feeds your good gut bacteria) along with nutritional supplements to enhance the detox process and support your body.
  • If bloating is a serious problem you should see your doctor or alternative health care practitioner.
Recipe (Tummy Soothing Tea): Ginger Tea

  • Fresh ginger root (about 2”)
  • Hot water
  • Lemon slices (optional)
  • Honey (optional)
  1. Pour the water into a saucepan and heat it on the stove.
  2. Grate the ginger root into the saucepan.  Let it come to a boil, and then simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea into a cup with a fine mesh strainer and add lemon and/or honey as desired.

Tip:  If you don’t want to use a grater and strainer then you can just thinly slice the ginger into your cup before adding boiling water.