Bloating, something often talked about, and experienced, and nowadays thought of as almost normal, but is it? And should it be?
WHAT is bloating?
It’s that feeling of fullness and/or pressure in the stomach – usually around the belly button.
Simply, bloating occurs when there’s too much bacterial fermentation happening in the gut. Bacteria fermentation is a normal process that happens in the gut, but if it’s happening toooo much and in the wrong place of the digestive system, it causes inflammation and the bloating feeling in the stomach. Think exploding, over-fizzy ginger beer) from those science experiments as a kid – that’s what happens when there’s TOO much bacterial fermentation.
How does bacterial fermentation happen? Normally your own stomach acid and digestive enzymes break down your food. When bacterial fermentation occurs, instead of your digestive enzymes breaking down your food, there’s bacteria breaking down your food.
WHY does it happen?
It’s a combination of things, however there are two main reasons I see bloating happening;
- Reduced digestive functioning caused by stress – high levels of stress reduce our ability to break down our food! When our body is under stress, our body focuses on essential functions needed to stay alive like breathing. This means less energy is put into digesting food, so there’s more undigested food making its way down into the small and large intestine – the bad bugs in our gut feast on this which can result in a bloat!
- Disrupted microbiome – for whatever reason, there’s too many bad bugs and not enough good bugs in the gut (or the right kind of bugs but they’re in the wrong place in the digestive system) which means that bacterial fermentation happens when it shouldn’t be happening!
The first step is to start to NOTICE what is going on in your digestive system – notice what foods are causing bloating or what you are doing when you are getting bloated.
What can you do about it?
- Apple cider vinegar is a magical remedy in my books – so it’s worth trying! It doesn’t work for everyone though. Take a small shot of apple cider vinegar before every meal (yep, that’s ideally every single meal but at least start with breakfast, dinner or any larger meals and go from there). If apple cider vinegar doesn’t agree with you – try diluting in water (I actually find diluted in warm water somewhat enjoyable) or lemon juice is another good alternative.
- See a holistic nutritionist who can help you identify what foods you’re reacting to and what bugs are present in the gut (usually requires stool testing). We use a IgG/IgA blood test to identify food allergies and stool testing (yes, this is a sample of your poo) to find out what the balance of good and bad bacteria is in the gut.
- Decrease the stress in your life and at least SIT DOWN for every meal (that means no eating on the go!)
- Add in a probiotic to help with rebalancing the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut
- Eat fermented foods! Anything from sauerkraut (click here for recipe), to good quality kombucha, kimchi, kefir or yoghurt. Homemade is always best (and cheapest) and once you get started, you realise how easy it is, but it does require some time and attention.
If you’ve given a couple of those pointers a go and you’re still struggling, it’s best to work with a practitioner who can create a targeted and personalised protocol.
P.S. There are always exceptions to the rule so bear that in mind. Bacterial fermentation is the cause of MOST bloating but there are always exceptions.