If you’ve experienced the feeling that a balloon is being blown up in your belly, you know how frustrating it can be to try to stop the bloating.
It can feel like it doesn’t matter what you eat, you’ll still end up busting out of your pants by the end of the day.
Or you’ll have some days where you feel pretty good and then others where that pesky bloating is back and ready to ruin your day.
You might feel frustrated trying to figure out what foods help and which hurt. It’s even more frustrating when those same foods sometimes feel fine and other times having you wishing you were wearing sweatpants!
Unfortunately there’s not always a straightforward answer to why the bloating is happening. It’s generally a mix of several reasons. The body is so complex and there are so many factors that affect how our guts function.
Let’s break down a few typical reasons why bloating tends to happen and then what we can do to try to stop the bloating.
Some causes of bloating:
- Gut Dysbiosis. That’s just a fancy word for an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. This is generally always part of the problem. How we develop this is usually some combination of poor diet, stress, lack of movement, lack of sleep, antibiotics or other medications, pesticides, and other unnatural chemicals that don’t belong in our bodies. We get a build up of unfriendly microbes that lead to gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, and even heartburn or reflux.
- Poor fat digestion. In order to properly break down dietary fats (and therefore get those fat soluble vitamins we need for a healthy body!) we have to have adequate, free-flowing bile. Again, poor diets – especially those low in fat or those with too many unhealthy fats – affect the production, storage, and flow of bile. This can cause fats to move through the intestines without being broken down or absorbed well and lead to bloating. This also can lead to fast moving stools and/or stools that float or have a greasy sheen to them.
- Inadequate stomach acid. There are several causes of low stomach acid, stress and poor dietary choices being big factors here. Our brain sends messages to the stomach to ramp up gastric juice production when food is coming. This only happens adequately when the brain is able to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system – the nervous system responsible for the act of digestion. If you’re rushed, anxious, stressed, angry, etc. your brain will not be properly signaling to the stomach to get those gastric juices going. This makes it harder to break down food in the stomach. This also leads to bloating, and additional problems in the gut, like that gut dysbiosis.
- Food Intolerances. Unless you have a specific allergy to a food, as is the case for celiac disease, food intolerances are generally a result of other issues and they develop along with the gut dysbiosis. When the digestive system has been stressed for many years with poor food choices, pesticides, stress, etc. it affects the integrity of the intestinal lining. This can cause inflammation to the gut lining which can then cause the body to start to react to various foods, without having an actual allergic reaction.
How to stop bloating:
First, here are a few ways to help with the acute symptom of bloating, but keep reading to learn how to get bloating to go away for good.
- Activated charcoal: this powder or capsules of it help bind toxins and gasses in the gut and pull them out through the digestive system.
- Ginger: tea or even chewing on some fresh ginger can help calm a bloated belly
- Fennel seed: making a tea with fennel seeds can also help calm the bloat.
- Exercise: walking and running are great ways to get bloating down
Now, these are just some quick fixes. To stop bloating long term, we have to dig a little deeper.
The way to do this is to address all those main causes of bloating through a multi-step process.
Stop the bloating long term:
This is what I take my gut-health clients through. There are three main phases.
First, we remove foods that might be currently adding to gut inflammation. We also work on removing the pathogens that have taken up residence in your digestive tract. I use specific antimicrobials that are very effective at getting rid of bad guys.
During this first phase, we also need to replace the digestive supports that you have likely been lacking. We increase and improve stomach acid, bile production and flow, and digestive enzymes so that you can better digest the food you are eating.
Then we move onto phase two where we will work to repair the gut lining with therapeutic amounts of healing nutrients. We will also repopulate the gut with friendly bacteria during this phase and make sure we feed them the foods that they need to build up a strong presence.
Phase three is all about maintaining a healthier gut and continuing to strengthen the integrity of the gut lining so these problems don’t resurface. During this time we also may focus on making sure the healing is extended to other aspects of the body and address other concerns that might still be lingering.
How long does this take?
This depends on the person but I like to allow at least three months to get through these, though the repopulating can take a bit longer.
Developing ongoing bloating or other digestive problems don’t just happen overnight. So it does take some time to allow your body to balance out again!
The take away here is that it is possible to get lasting relief. It takes some time and effort, but there are specific steps you can take, and that’s good news!