Bloating is one of the most common gut-related complaints. For me, it has been the one nagging symptom that I can’t seem to get rid of on my journey to wellness. I recently came across the fabulous book “The Bloat Cure: 101 Natural Solutions for Real and Lasting Relief” by Robynne Chutkan. In it, she suggests over 100 possible causes for your bloat! Are you struggling to get rid of your uncomfortable tummy? Read on to find out what may be causing it. You may be surprised to find out what has been happening in your gut that could be causing the belly bloat.
1. Carbonated Drinks
Those yummy bubbles in soda pop are created by a chemical formula called carbonic acid. Carbonic acid causes your stomach to fill with gas. This gas often leads to burping, but can also cause some bloating. PLUS, most carbonated drinks add extra sodium for flavor which can add to the bloat too. Skip the soda pop and drink some water.
Candida is an overgrowth of yeast. For many women this translates into yeast infections, but it can also appear in your gut and mouth as well. The overgrowth of candida in your gut causes a ton of inflammation (bloating). This inflammation then eats away at the lining of your gut leading to “Leaky Gut”. Leaky Gut is when the integrity of your stomach lining has holes in it and allows partially digested food and other toxins into the body. The body’s response? Inflammation (bloating).
One of the most common complaints with constipation is bloating. The back-up of stool in the colon can make you feel sluggish and bloated. Remember to drink a lot of water to help things run more smoothly.
4. Being a Woman
Did you know that women have larger colons than men? On average, women have 4-5″ longer colons than men! What does this mean? It means it takes longer for all that waste to get out. Because of that extra time, there are more opportunities for waste to get stuck in all the twists and turns leading to gas buildup and you guessed it, bloating.
Alcohol basically kills the healthy bacteria in your gut. And I just thought it relaxed you and caused a little dehydration! With the healthy bacteria killed off, you have a bacterial imbalance called dysbiosis. This imbalance of bacteria will cause that belly to swell. Alcohol also contains wheat which can irritate the lining of your small intestine causing bloating. This is particularly true if you have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten.
6. Acid Blockers
Stomach acid is kinda important. It helps break up all the food just ate. If you are taking any sort of medication that prevents the acid from completing it’s job, you may be feeling bloated. One example of an acid blockers are PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors).
Did you know that your happy hormone, serotonin, is found in the gut and not in your brain? If your serotonin levels are low, you may have be experiencing a slow digestive system and a bloated belly. Prescription anti-depressant drugs can also slow down the digestive process causing bloating.
Pee Pale! Here is just another reason to start keeping track of you water intake. Dehydration causes bloating when the stuff in your intestines doesn’t have enough fluid to pass easily through your digestive tract. Keep in mind medications such as antihistamines, laxatives and meds for high blood pressure can dry you out. If you are on those medications, you should be drinking more water to counteract the drying effect of the meds. So go fill that water bottle and start a chuggin!
If you are feeling bloated you may be lactose intolerant or even have a sensitivity to lactose. Did you know that the process of pasteurizing kills a lot of the naturally occurring good bacteria in milk? Unfortunately, that good bacteria may have prevented the bloating. In addition, cows are frequently fed hormones to boost milk production and those hormones can cause an estrogen-like response which can lead to bloating.
10. Genetically Modified Food (GMO)
Genetically modified food is food that has been altered by taking the genetic make up of one food and inserting it into the genetic make up of another. While this process has benefits in taste and resistance to disease, scientists have started to wonder about the long-term effects of messing with the complexities of nature. GMO’s became mainstream in the 1990’s and since then there has been a leap in food allergies, food intolerances and inflammation of the gut – all of which cause bloating. Avoid GMO’s whenever possible!
11. High Fiber Diet
The promotion of the high fiber diet has been around for awhile now. With fiber bars and fiber add-ins to products on the shelves it’s easier than ever to get your fiber. In general, fiber helps move things through your digestive system to prevent bloating. However, if you eat too much fiber at one time it can block you up and cause your belly to swell. Try spreading out your fiber intake over the course of the day and be sure to drink lots of water to help it move through your system quickly.
12. Late Night Eating
Did you know that your muscle contractions are on a schedule? It’s called your circadian rhythm. Your ‘cycle’ is active during daylight hours and less active during night-time hours. Eating large meals at night can definitely be causing uncomfortable bloating. Eat earlier or eat lighter to prevent it. This was a great reminder to me to keep my kitchen closed after dinner and avoid that late-night eating after the kids are in bed. 🙂
Meat takes longer for your body to digest so it takes longer to move through your system. When food sits in your intestines for a long period of time, it starts to ferment and cause bloating. Did you know that 80% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to animals raised for us to eat? Isn’t that scary? It makes you pause and ask yourself “how much exposure am I getting to these antibiotics? Those antibiotics can mess up the bacteria in your gut and make you feel gassy and bloated. Unfortunately, that’s just the beginning of symptoms that can appear due to those antibiotics. More on that in another post.
14. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
NSAIDs help bring down the inflammation in your joints, but they also cause inflammation in your gut. This inflammation can cause damage to the lining of your stomach which in turn can cause bloating. NSAIDs can also cause fluid retention which will make you bloated. Good times, huh?
Consuming large amounts of unfermented, processed soy can have estrogen-like effects which cause bloating. Soy can also slow down your thyroid and trigger thyroid disease which can cause major bloating. Try unflavored almond, rice or coconut milk instead.
Did any of these causes surprise you? Which ones? Share in the comments! How many times did I say the word “Bloat”? 🙂