How to Get Rid of Bloating and Constipation
Constipation can lead to bloating, and both are intricately linked. If you’re constipated, you may already feel the heaviness and stomach distention (swelling and bloating in the stomach) from not being able to eliminate waste properly. At BiOptimizers, we’re all about improving your gut health as a whole rather than just providing temporary relief. In…
Fact checked by Nattha Wannissorn
Constipation can lead to bloating, and both are intricately linked. If you’re constipated, you may already feel the heaviness and stomach distention (swelling and bloating in the stomach) from not being able to eliminate waste properly.
At BiOptimizers, we’re all about improving your gut health as a whole rather than just providing temporary relief. In this article, we are going to share what research says about the root causes of constipation and bloating, and how to address them.
What Causes Constipation?
Constipation consists of infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stools.
You could be experiencing constipation for a number of reasons:
- Unbalanced and low-fiber diet
- Too much caffeine
- Too much alcohol
- Endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism
- Neurologic diseases that affect gut movement (neuropathy)
- Psychological issues
If you are feeling gassy and bloated, you might want to check out our article on how to stop farting fast.
Many people who experience constipation also experience bloating, the uncomfortable gut distension that makes you feel like an overinflated balloon.
How Is Constipation Linked to Bloating?
Distension and Discomfort from Constipation
Constipation can cause an unpleasant heavy sensation and sometimes even abdominal pain because stool accumulates inside the intestine.
The longer your gut content takes to exit your large intestine, the longer your gut bacteria have to ferment what is already present there. This can produce even more gas.
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
Both constipation and bloating are linked to Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO may come from abnormal gut movement due to poor Migrating Motor Complex (MMC) activity.
MMC is a cyclic electrical pattern that produces wave-like gut cleansing movement 2-3 hours after a meal when your digestion should be over. The gut movement acts as the small intestine’s housekeeper, moving your food residue along and making sure the small intestine is clean.
If your MMC is abnormal, your gut won’t move properly, allowing bacteria to overgrow, leading to SIBO.
These bacteria should be growing in your large intestine. When they overgrow in the small intestine, they can ferment foods in the gut and contribute to gut inflammation.
SIBO symptoms often include :
- Bloating and gas
- Other inflammatory symptoms throughout your body
Low Stomach Acid
Your stomach acid is very important for efficient digestion and gut movement, so much that low stomach acid can contribute to constipation and bloating.
The stomach acid breaks down food particles and creates an acidic environment in our stomach. Acidic gastric juice also kills bacteria.
The acidity inside your stomach partly controls the rate at which food moves to the intestine. Once in the intestine, the acidity stimulates digestive juice and bile flow, along with gut movement that moves food along.
If you have low stomach acid, chances are you’ll experience some digestive problems. This can eventually lead to bacterial overgrowth and other types of gut infections that can cause bloating and constipation.
Dysbiosis (Imbalance of the Gut Bacteria)
Any disruption in your gut microbe’s harmony is called gut dysbiosis, which can contribute to bloating and constipation.
On the other hand, constipation can change the gut microbiota. This is why constipated people often have different gut bacteria compared to non-constipated people. People suffering from constipation have more methane producing bacteria, which slows down gut transit time.
Aside from constipation, certain changes in bacterial gut composition may also cause bloating.
The fungi in our gut are just as important as bacteria in your gut flora. Factors influencing fungal behavior include genetic factors, diet, and immune response.
Some fungi in the gut are good, while others are bad or can turn bad. The Candida genus includes so-called opportunistic fungi—they become bad (pathogenic) when our immune system gets weaker. They’re called opportunistic because they take this opportunity when we are weak to attack us. Candida albicans is the most common species.
Candida is frequently found in the human gut. However, its colonization at high levels can cause gut issues, including bloating and constipation.
SIBO, dysbiosis, and fungal overgrowth can cause leaky gut. Our leaky gut supplements, Biome Breakthrough, can help with both leaky gut and removing unhealthy pathogens.
Why IFs Constipation Bad for You?
Your body relies on the gut eliminating the stool in a timely manner to get rid of harmful substances. Constipation can allow toxin reabsorption, which is unhealthy.
After the liver detoxifies waste substances, they are eliminated via four different routes:
Toxins that are deactivated by the liver are excreted in bile, but they can also enter the gut/feces through other routes, such as hormone metabolites, and bacterial byproducts are typically eliminated through the stool. The longer the stool sits in your large intestine, the more these substances can get re-absorbed into circulation.
Changing the Gut Microbiota
Constipated people have more firmicutes, a group of gut bacteria that can absorb more calories from food than other groups. Whereas, regular gut movement tends to breed more of other gut bacteria groups, including bacteroidetes and actinobacteria.
When the stool stays longer in your large intestine, the gut bacteria has more time to extract more calories from the gut content. Therefore, if your goal is to lose weight or stay lean, it is important to restore regularity.
Other Complications of Constipation
Constipation can lead to dangerous complications, such as:
- Uncontrolled bowel movements
- Urinary retention (when you urinate, but the bladder does not empty completely)
- Volvulus (twisting of intestine)
How to Fix Constipation and Bloating:
Optimize Stomach Acid Levels
The stomach’s main task is to prepare food for digestion and absorption. Its main contribution to the digestive process is acid production. While in the stomach, acid soaks the food and breaks down the food structure, making it easier for digestive enzymes to access.
For the most part, stomach acid (gastric juice/acid) contains hydrochloric acid (HCl), lipase, and pepsin. Gastrin is the main and only gastric hormone that regulates gastric acid secretion.
HCL is a vital component of gastric juice. It dissolves food particles and creates an acidic environment. The stomach’s secretion of HCL also protects the body from pathogens ingested with meals.
Symptoms of low HCL include :
- Abdominal pain
- Early feeling of fullness when eating
- Weight loss
- Acid regurgitation
If you experience these symptoms, especially bloating and constipation, you can easily improve your digestion and relieve bloating with an HCL supplement and other effective options
Drink More Water and Eat Enough Fat in your Diet
A reason why you could be dealing with constipation and bloating is dehydration.
Increase your fluid intake to 1.5-2.0 liters ( 50- 68 oz) per day to relieve constipation. A higher water intake helps, not only with constipation, but also with bloating.
It is important to have fat in your diet. Having some fats in your meals stimulates bile secretion. Bile then stimulates peristalsis—muscle contractions that help in moving food through the gut.
Eat Enough Fiber (if you can tolerate it)
When struggling with constipation, a daily fiber intake of 25 g can increase stool frequency.
A higher intake of fruits, legumes, and vegetables can help you with constipation.
Fiber can relieve symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation.
However, if you tend to experience bloating after increasing your fiber, you may want to slow down on the fiber. Also, protein substitution with carbohydrates may be better for reducing bloating in people who experience bloating as a result of a high-fiber diet.
See a Practitioner to Test and Address the Root Causes of Bloating and Constipation
A naturopathic or functional medicine practitioner should assess your health history, symptoms, and diet before devising a treatment program. In many cases, diets, lifestyle changes, and probiotics are enough to help with bloating and constipation.
If they suspect that a gut infection, SIBO, dysbiosis, or fungal overgrowth could be a problem, they may order lab tests to confirm before recommending a protocol.
Treatments for these may include antimicrobials and prokinetics:
- Antimicrobials are of course aimed to fight off the bad microbes. The goal of antimicrobial therapy is to kill pathogens while causing no harm to humans.
- For SIBO, prokinetics are drugs or herbs that can repair abnormalities in gut movement.
Your practitioner may also recommend:
- Therapeutic diets, such as an elimination diet or a low-FODMAPs diet
- Herbal medicines
Probiotics therapy can be used for SIBO decontamination and abdominal pain relief but it alone may not cure SIBO.. However, in cases of bloating and constipation that are not due to SIBO, probiotics can be helpful.
Even though antibiotics are the main SIBO treatment, they can be very bad for your gut bacteria. As a result, people are more likely to experiment with antimicrobial herbs such as :
- Black cumin
- Bay leaves
Use a Supplement that Supports Healthy Gut Movement
For temporary constipation relief, try Herbal Power Flush. The main ingredient is “Cascara sagrada” (Rhamnus purshiana) bark. This ingredient has a long history of being used as a natural, non-harmful, laxative by the Native Americans,
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