At least 1 in 3 people experience bloating regularly, do you?
And 90% of people with IBS (practically all patients) also experience it.
What is Bloating?
Swelling or distension in the abdominal region, often characterized by a distended belly.
Trapped bacteria in the upper GI tract begin to feed off starches and produce hydrogen gas, which then sets up an environment for the unwanted bacteria to feed and produce methane gas. This gas causes bloating, abdominal discomfort and potentially a change in bowel habits—constipation, diarrhea or both.
Beyond swelling of the abdomen, other symptoms include:
- Burping (belching),
- Gas (flatulence, farting)
- Abdominal discomfort
- A feeling of fullness
When Bloating Happens
Bloating typically occurs directly after a meal or within 1-2 hours after. However, if you have food sensitivities, it’s not uncommon for it to occur within 24-48 hours.
How Bloating Happens
Research shows gas producing bacteria in the upper GI tract can cause bloating and abdominal discomfort. An excessive amount of bacteria from the colon move up into the upper GI tract, which is normally nearly sterile.
These bacteria turn a typically free-flowing sterile environment into one with a much slower motility. In this state, the upper GI tract can’t effectively absorb nutrients from ingested food and move it along to the colon.
As trapped moves down into the colon, the gas also works as a paralytic agent, sometimes causing constipation too.
How do these gas producing bacteria get there in the first place?
One word: stress.
Bloat-causing bacteria can enter the upper GI tract and begin to grow through a triggering event that causes stress to the body (such as illness, lifestyle imbalances or even certain foods). When a person experiences several stressors, the body’s ability to move partially digested food quickly from the stomach to the upper GI tract is compromised.
- Poor quality foods (processed, packaged, sweeteners, etc.)
- Food intolerances
- Low stomach acid
- Low water intake/dehydration
- Eating too fast
- Not chewing your food well
- Eating old or spoiled food
- Eating on the go
- High sugar, starch intake
- Low fat intake
- History antibiotic use
- Poor sleep/lack of sleep
- Overtraining OR Sedentary lifestyle
- Circadian rhythm disruption (i.e. on screens late at night, lack of natural sunlight)
- Under-eating (slows motility)
What to Do About It: 5 Anti-Bloating Hacks
Here are my top 5 anti-bloating hacks.
- Chew. Chew. Chew your food really well (until it is liquified in your mouth).
- Breathe. Before inhaling your food, pause at meals to simply slow down and breathe. Take 1 to 2 minutes to take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pace yourself.
- Support Digestion. Take digestive enzymes and digestive bitters with meals. (Get my favorite enzymes HERE, and digestive bitters HERE).
- Boost stomach acid. Swig 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar in 2-4 ounces of water with meals or take an HCL tablet (Get HCL HERE).
- Try Atrantil. Atrantil is a blend of 3 key herbs—Peppermint, Quebracho, and Horse Chestnut— that help reduce methane-producing gut bacteria in the upper GI tract. (Get it HERE)