Many people suffers from abdominal bloating and if you are one of them you know that’s no fun. Majority of people that come to see me struggles with it, therefore I decided to give it a brief attention. If bloating interferes with your daily life, your work, your social of recreational activities, it’s something you need to look into.
Your abdomen feels bloated when your GI tract increases its volume due to presence of air or gas. It is a nasty feeling of fullness, swelling, tightness, or hardness. You may also experience pain, flatulence, abdominal distension, nausea, burping, belching, or gurgles. Some people feel like they “look pregnant” when bloating strikes.
What are the most common causes of abdominal bloating?
There can be various causes of being bloated, some of which are quite easy to tackle and some may need a professional help.
Consider following if you feel regularly bloated:
Eating and drinking too fast. Eating too much. When you eat and drink fast you may swallow too much air and promote gas formation, also rushing while eating impairs digestion. Chewing gum, smoking may also worsen the problem. Our digestive system has certain capacity to digest efficiently, if we eat too much food (too fast) it will obviously not be able to digest optimally. Eat slowly, not too much and chew your food thoroughly for better digestion.
Diet rich in starch and/or nuts. Overconsumption of starch (grains), nuts, processed foods, sugar, difficult to digest meal combinations such as high starch and high protein content in one meal. Overconsumption of starch intensifies the complaints related to candida and intestinal parasites.
Low gastric acid & indigestion. Low gastric acid and/or deficiency of digestive enzymes can result in abdominal bloating. I write about low gastric acid here.
Microbial GI dysbiosis. When your gut microbes get out of balance resulting in dysbiosis (beneficial and bad microbes are out of balance), the bloating may occur. Think of candida (Candida albicans) or other yeast overgrowth, parasitic infection (Dientamoeba fragilis or Blastocystis hominis), gastric Helicobacter pylori infection, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Food Intolerance (lactose, histamine, fructose). People with inability or decreased ability to break down lactose (milk sugar), fructose or histamine may feel bloated.
Reactivity to gluten. You may feel bloated when your body does not tolerate gluten, sometimes it’s just too much gluten in your diet and sometimes it is a non-celiac gluten sensitivity or a celiac disease.
Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis. People with intestinal inflammation such as in Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis may experience abdominal bloating as well.
Impaired pancreatic function or bile production. Pancreatic -under or -overactivity, too little or too much bile can influence digestion of fats, starch and as a result aggravate the abdominal bloating.
Constipation. If you have a bowel movement only every few days, your abdomen will have a tendency to bloat because of an increased abdominal pressure.
Dehydration. The more dehydrated your body is, the higher chance you may feel bloated. Drinking too much alcohol, too little water and eating salty snacks can promote bloating.
Hormonal Changes such as during PMS and period. Due too hormonal changes and hormonal imbalances many women tend to feel bloated before and/or during their period.
Abdominal Water retention. Abdominal water retention called ascites takes place when fluid fills the space between the lining of the abdomen and the organs. It usually occurs as a result of liver problems.
What can you do?
Find the root cause.
First, you can experiment yourself by eating slowly, chewing properly, avoiding drinking with meals, eliminating processed and junk foods, eliminating sugar and starch rich foods, excluding diary, gluten, or histamine rich foods. If after your detective work you still experience abdominal bloating, get yourself tested. I would suggest starting with a fecal analysis that would include your microflora profile, parasites, digestion profile, inflammation markers, gluten reactivity markers, pancreatic elastase, bile salts, histamine) and a blood test.
For occasional bloating you can have a peppermint, ginger, fennel or chamomile tea, or other herbal remedies. Preferably avoid gassy fruits and vegetables, sodas, artificial sweeteners, sugar, starch, gluten and diary.