Everything You Need To Know About Bloating And Gas
Bloating is an uncomfortably embarrassing issue. As a digestive health company, our mission is to help you overcome such gut issues through science. In this article, we’ll cover what the latest research has discovered about bloating, the root causes, and what you should do to finally resolve it. What is bloating? Bloating is when your…
Fact checked by Nattha Wannissorn
Bloating is an uncomfortably embarrassing issue. As a digestive health company, our mission is to help you overcome such gut issues through science. In this article, we’ll cover what the latest research has discovered about bloating, the root causes, and what you should do to finally resolve it.
What is bloating?
Bloating is when your stomach swells up so you feel uncomfortably full and heavy. Some people can go from having a flat stomach to looking pregnant within a matter of hours after eating foods that bloat them. You may also feel gassy and have some abdominal pain. It is a fairly common problem that can affect all genders and age groups.
Causes of bloating and specific cures for each cause
Bloating is a symptom of excessive gas and gut inflammation, which may be caused by indigestion, overeating, and inflammation from certain foods. Sometimes, bacterial overgrowth and the disruption of the natural gut flora can also contribute to bloating.
Food allergies, sensitivity, and intolerance
Bloating can be a symptom of inflammation from food, which includes food allergies, sensitivity, and intolerance. These are three distinct inflammatory reactions to food.
Food allergy reactions are typically severe and quite immediate. They result in allergic reactions such as hives, nausea, and diarrhea. These happen when a type of antibody called IgE recognizes the food protein and sets up an inappropriate immune response. Your doctor
may test for blood IgE specific to foods before recommending avoiding such foods and re-challenging your diet. Food allergies may also have mild symptoms such as bloating. If you are allergic to certain foods, you should completely avoid them.
Food intolerances are caused by a lack of enzymes specific to the food. This means there will be limited ability to digest or absorb those foods. As a result, the gut bacteria may step in and ferment these foods. Intolerances are more common causes of bloating than food allergies. The two most common food intolerances are to certain sugars and fibers due to the inability to digest them. As a result, the gut bacteria may ferment these, creating gas that causes bloating.
Lactose intolerance is caused by the deficiency of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose (milk sugar) into glucose and galactose (simple sugars).
Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) are a group of carbohydrates that some people lack the enzymes to digest. People with abnormal gut movement or an overgrowth of certain gut bacteria, such as those with irritable bowel syndrome, may experience significant bloating from eating FODMAPs. Many fruits, nuts, legumes, seeds, grains, and vegetables are high in FODMAPs.
Histamine and biogenic amine intolerances result from the lack of histamine-degrading enzymes in the gut. As a result, histamines in the food can get absorbed into the bloodstream, causing inflammation and allergy-like reactions both in the gut and throughout the body. Bloating is a common symptom of histamine intolerance.
Examples of high histamine foods include leftovers, fermented foods, and meats and seafood that are not fresh.
You can try eliminating these foods to see if the symptoms go away. Ideally, you should avoid eating foods that you are intolerant to. However, supplementing with specific enzymes that break down the food substances also allows you to eat them as treats once in a while.
Food sensitivities refer to any other types of food-related inflammation that are neither food allergies nor food intolerances. You can be sensitive to any food protein or properties, such as a high-fat meal. Because food sensitivities may not always be present with antibodies against the food, the best way to identify food sensitivities is via an elimination challenge diet. If you stop eating certain foods and symptoms subside only to return when you bring back those foods, then food sensitivity is likely the culprit.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is when the body mounts inflammatory responses to a protein in the gluten family, which may include gliadin and glutenin. In about 50% of cases, IgA or IgM antibodies against gluten can be detected in the blood. Gluten also increases zonulin, which opens up the gut barrier and may increase the risk of other food sensitivity. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley, although it can also contaminate other foods that are processed in the same facility, including oats.
Other symptoms of food sensitivities may include joint pain, brain fog, fatigue, constipation, or diarrhea. If you have these symptoms, consider working with a nutritionist or naturopathic physician to identify the food culprits. Generally, the best way to manage food-related bloating is to avoid eating it.
Gluten Guardian contains peptidase DPP IV, an enzyme that can fully digest gluten and casein proteins, especially in small amounts of cross-contamination. It also contains other sugar-digesting enzymes that can help with bloating. However, it doesn’t prevent 100% of inflammatory gluten reactions or treat Celiac disease.
Probiotics for food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances
Although food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances have different mechanisms, they all relate to a leaky gut (poor gut barrier function). The best intervention for this is to avoid problematic foods.
To digest food well, you need to be in rest and digest mode. Being in a stressed or fight-or-flight mode reduces the resources available for digestion, slows down digestion, and lowers digestive enzymes and stomach acid. This is a normal response; however ongoing stress keeps digestion slow and causes bloating [R9].
There’s a very well-established relationship between your gut and your brain. Psychological distress can affect our digestive system and vice versa. Stress can compromise this gut-brain connection and can trigger bloating. Furthermore, it also causes gut inflammation.
Probiotics and digestive support for stress-related bloating
If you are under a lot of stress, magnesium can promote a balanced stress response. Also, consider supplementing with concentrated digestive enzymes like MassZymes and HCl Breakthrough to ensure smooth digestion and nutrient absorption.
Dysbiosis is an imbalance in the gut microbes (naturally occurring bacteria) either by:
- increase of pathogenic bacteria
- loss of beneficial bacteria
- loss of overall microbiota diversity.
Most people with abdominal bloating have dysbiosis, which may increase gas production in the gut. There may be an increase in gas-producing and a decrease in gas-consuming bacteria, causing bloating and flatulence. Also, because your gut bacteria interact closely with your gut immune system, dysbiosis can cause inflammation that disrupts gut sensory functions (e.g. distension and fullness) and movement, leading to bloating.
Overgrowth of certain bacteria will also lead to higher production of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, which may cause bloating.
Probiotics for bloating due to dysbiosis
If you have dysbiosis, research has shown that synbiotics are more powerful than probiotics in restoring healthy gut bacteria. Synbiotics are a mixture of probiotics and non-digestible fibers that help healthy bacteria grow. The fibers feed the probiotics and help them better survive the gut. The benefits of synbiotics are:
- Increase Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species count
- Maintain the balance of intestinal microbiota
- Prevent movement of bacteria across the gut barrier
Leaky Gut Guardian is a synbiotic supplement formulated to improve the overall microbiome composition. The synbiotic combination of fiber, Lactobacilli, and Bifidobacteria support a healthy shift in the gut microbiome. At the same time, IgYmax, a special type of antibody that binds to bad bacteria and yeast, helps remove them from the gut. Clinical studies show that it improves the gut barrier function, balances the gut immune response, and increases histamine-degrading enzymes
If you also struggle with mood and cognitive issues, which are common among people with digestive problems and dysbiosis, Cognibiotics is great for balancing the gut-brain-microbiome axis. It is a combination of synbiotics with ten probiotic strains shown to support brain health, and several Chinese herbs. The Chinese herb formula in Cognibiotics improves mood by improving the gut microbiome.
SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) also described as malabsorption syndrome) is the term for having too many gut bacteria in our small intestines. Most of our gut bacteria live in the large intestine, while very few should be in the small intestine. Having too many bacteria in the small intestine can contribute to bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome. Up to 78% of irritable bowel syndrome patients have SIBO, although studies are conflicting.
Many people with SIBO have compromised stomach acid secretion and small intestine motility. Furthermore, SIBO may cause inflammation of the small intestine’s inner lining.
Stomach acid is very important for digestion and overall health. It aids in digestion, and triggers a wave-like cleansing gut movement (peristalsis). Also, it kills germs in foods and helps balance the number of bacteria in the intestines. Low stomach acid can cause SIBO and allows for infections with bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that cause ulcers.
When our food moves through the digestive tract, a series of complex events occur to properly digest and absorb it. Migrating motor complex (MMC) – a distinct electrochemical pattern observed in gut muscles between meals – is responsible for this movement. Irregularities in MMC slow down digestion, allow bacteria to colonize and become SIBO, leading to bloating.
Furthermore, consuming food and drinks high in carbohydrates can build up gas. Bacteria that normally reside in the gut will ferment the carbohydrates, producing hydrogen and carbon dioxide gasses. Reducing the number of carbohydrates in the diet may help.
If your bloating is persistent, you may have SIBO, so you should see a gastroenterologist or a digestion-focused health practitioner to get tested and treated accordingly. Certain specialized strains of probiotics may also help with SIBO.
Probiotics for bloating due to SIBO
If you have SIBO, a probiotic with antimicrobial activity, such as P3-OM, can be helpful. Besides eliminating bloating and gas, P3-OM produces metabolites that inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. Consider also adding a full-spectrum digestive enzyme such as MassZymes to fully break down any foods that may ferment and to maximize your nutrient absorption. In HCl Breakthrough can support healthy stomach acid levels, which also supports healthy gut movement (peristalsis).
Gas and air
A common cause of bloating is excess intestinal gas or poor gas transit. Ingestion of air causes bloating. We ingest air by :
- Eating or drinking too fast
- Chewing gum
- Mouth breathing
- Sleeping – especially sleep apnea patients who use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines
- Consuming gaseous beverages, such as sparkling water, soda, soft drinks, and beer
- Eating gas-producing foods, such as cruciferous vegetables
In these cases, you should avoid foods or activities that increase gas in your gut. If you have mouth breathing issues or use a CPAP machine, speak to your providers about managing your gas and bloating. However, probiotics and digestive support will still be beneficial.
Other serious medical causes
Bloating can be also a symptom of serious medical problems such as:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Parasite infection, such as giardia
- Celiac disease
- Other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs)
- Mechanical obstruction in the gut, which traps gas in the abdomen and causes bloating .
If bloating is persistent and followed by other symptoms, you should consult your doctor to rule out these serious conditions and address the root causes of the bloating.
When to seek medical help
Bloating is typically not dangerous and in most cases doesn’t require medical attention, but you should always consult your doctor. If symptoms become severe, these are signs that you should seek immediate medical attention:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Frequent constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting
- Blood in stool
- Severe impairment of day to day life
- Chest pain
Bloating may appear to be a minor discomfort, but it means that you should finally pay attention to your digestion. There are many potential root causes for bloating, which is why we recommend working with a qualified digestive health practitioner to fix bloating and address the root causes.
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