Currently, bloating is one of the most frequent complaints that can be heard. But, the good news is that it is almost always treatable once the underlying cause is determined.
What is bloating caused by?
- Intestinal yeast overgrowth
- Gluten sensitivity or celiac disease
- Food intolerances
- Irregular meal-times
- Digestive enzyme deficiency, including lactose intolerance
- Insulin resistance
- Poor food choices
- Other causes of dysbiosis (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or parasites)
It is important to know that some of these conditions can be tested for (gluten sensitivity, food intolerance, insulin resistance, celiac, and in other cases they are treated based on the symptoms and history.
So, while looking for the root cause of your bloating issue, you can also try some of these homemade remedies in order to treat the symptoms:
1. Intestinal yeast overgrowth
It is an extremely common issue, which is typically triggered by frequent or long-term antibiotic use. Antibiotics actually alter the digestive flora, allowing yeast, i.e., an opportunistic organism, to take over.
You will be bloated and gassy if there is too much yeast in the body. This happens due to the yeast ferment foods, triggering gassiness. Also, some people can experience very high sugar or carb cravings, fatigue, binge eating tendency, brain fog, vaginal yeast infections, and possibly fungal infections on the skin.
As previously mentioned it is a treatable issue, if you rebalance your intestinal flora with a yeast cleanse: having a non-sugar diet, taking pro-biotic to replenish intestinal flora, and taking supplements to destroy yeast.
2. Gluten sensitivity or celiac disease
Gluten intolerance and celiac disease, i.e., a more serious form of gluten-intolerance, are certainly on the rise, largely as a result of the great changes in wheat over the past 50 years, and the increased consumption of grain products. A lot of people with a gluten sensitivity will complain of bloating, with or without diarrhea, gassiness, or constipation.
However, there is available testing for gluten intolerance and celiac that does pick up most cases, even though many people who test negative, still feel better off gluten. Plus, another marker for gluten intolerance is someone who actually has low vitamin B12 levels without a vegan or vegetarian diet.
So, in case you find that gluten may be a problem for you, first of all, do appropriate blood tests to confirm, or start a 5 week strict gluten-free trial. Moreover, after 5 weeks strictly off gluten, it is crucial to challenge it back into your diet in order to clarify your reaction.
You can also consume other excellent gluten alternatives, like millet, rice, sweet potato, squash, and quinoa.
3. Food intolerance
It is different from food allergy since it is a delayed reaction to a food, rather than an immediate response of itching, anaphylaxis or swelling. In other words, food intolerances result in immune stress and inflammation, thus irritating the intestinal tract that causes bloating.
One of the most common food intolerances are: corn; gluten; wheat; eggs; dairy; fruits such as pineapple, banana, citrus; nuts such as peanuts, and almonds.
These food intolerances can be tested with a blood test that can accurately identify them that takes the guess-work out of eating.
It is good to know that food intolerance would be suspected in someone who also suffer from asthma, allergies, eczema, or a family history of autoimmune disease, but it can also be related to various other skin conditions, low energy, and digestive disturbances. Usually, bloating will improve within a period of 4-6 weeks of excluding any aggravating foods from a person’s diet.
4. Insulin resistance
Insulin is actually the released hormone from the pancreas in response to glucose, i.e., sugar, in the blood. Typically, after eating a meal insulin levels spike.
These are the common symptoms of insulin resistance: intense carbohydrate and sweet cravings; weight gain (usually rapid within 2-3 years); increased appetite; as well as feeling tired and bloated after having a meal.
Especially in case you have a family history of diabetes or you have experienced these signs, you may have insulin resistance. But, there are blood tests, which can confirm insulin resistance.
You can regulate it by lowering your intake of sugar and carbohydrate foods, emphasizing more fiber, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats; and also exercising daily.
5. Irregular meal-times
Simply eating at irregular times can be another common cause of bloating. For instance, skipping breakfast, and then having a large lunch will almost always contribute to bloating, since it is actually shocking your digestive system, and triggering a great rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. Then, you will end up bloated and tired, looking or caffeine in order to stay productive in the afternoon.
For that reason, aim for a breakfast within 1 hour of waking, a regularly timed mid-day lunch, and dinner before 7pm. Also, you can include mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks if necessary.
6. Digestive enzyme deficiency
Pancreas produces digestive enzymes to help with the breakdown of food into forms, which can be easily absorbed by your body. In fact, enzymes break down carbohydrates, lactose, proteins, and fats.
On the other hand, in some cases, the body may not be creating enough digestive enzymes, leading to pain, bloating, indigestion as well as irregular bowel movements.
Keep in mind digestive enzyme deficiency can be triggered by:
- Food intolerances resulting in low-grade intestinal tract inflammation;
- Low stomach acid;
- Yeast, parasite, bacteria overgrowth;
- Chronic stress.
Taking digestive enzymes along with your meals, and avoiding dairy in case you have a lactose intolerances can be a temporary solution to this problem. Also, it is very important to get to the root cause of the problem, and treat any imbalances to encourage your body to produce sufficient enzymes on its own.
7. Poor food choices
The food choices you eat together can actually affect how well they are digested. Additionally, when you improperly combine certain foods, it can slow down the digestive process, contributing to indigestion and bloating.
The most important rule of food combining is to consume fruits alone, and not to combine them with other foods, particularly proteins. For instance, never eat melon or a fruit salad directly after having a fish dinner!
There are also other rules of food combining: don’t combine carbohydrates with proteins. But, it becomes tricky and almost impossible with a vegetarian diet, however those consuming meat, fish or poultry should try separating the starches and proteins and see how it feels. For instance, have a breakfast consisting of juice fruits; have a mid-morning snack of nuts; have a lunch consisting of fish, meat, or poultry with plenty of vegetables; and then have a more carbohyrate-heavy dinner like a baked sweet potato and grilled vegetables.
8. Other dysbiosis causes (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or parasites)
A lot of people also carry extra pathogenic bacteria and even parasites in their digestive tracts, resulting in weight loss, fatigue, and diarrhea. It more likely happens in case you have recently traveled particularly to Africa, Asia, or South America.
You should know that there is accurate testing for bacterial overgrowth and parasites along with a complete digestive stool analysis to accurately pin-point the problem.
To conclude, there are a lot of causes of bloating that a Naturopathic doctor is looking for, and this is typically a very treatable condition.