Bloating is unpleasant, painful, and can have a significant impact on your life quality. Some people just don’t know what causes their bloating and are tired of being sick all of the time. There might be a variety of reasons for bloating
What is bloating?
First and foremost, let’s start with the most basic topic: intestinal gas. When our digestive system processes the food and/or drink we have consumed, gas is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. This gas that is generated causes stomach distension and causes that uncomfortable bloated feeling.
Causes of bloating
The following are some of the most common triggers for bloating:
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which gluten is identified by the immune system and antibodies are formed against it. Bloating can be but is not always a sign of having Coeliac disease. You can have Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity and experience bloating after eating gluten containing foods. Gluten is found in wheat, spelt, rye, barley and to much lesser extent, oats.
Whether or not you have the Coeliac gene mutation, you can still be gluten sensitive. If you know that each time you eat gluten, you experience bloating or other gut issues you should speak to your health practitioner to find out more about what in particular it is about gluten that is triggering digestive upset for you.
If you have noticed that whenever you eat wheat, onions, garlic, apples, pears, honey, and soft drinks you experience bloating gas, and changeable bowel motions you need to rule out FODMAP intolerance. These foods are just some of many that are high in FODMAPs. High FODMAP containing foods include fructose (when in excess of glucose), fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose and polyols (eg. sorbitol and mannitol). Most individuals who are sensitive to foods high in FODMAPS already tend to have other irritable bowel symptoms and indicators present. To get a comprehensive and accurate list of high FODMAP foods to get an idea of if this is problem for you, use the Monash University FODMAP app. It’s scientifically tested and reliable.
Low stomach acid and/or digestive enzyme insufficiency
Food shouldn’t spend an excessive amount of time in the stomach. However, it is not uncommon to see people present where they have insufficient levels of stomach acid being produced. The result is difficulty digesting protein. The other common functional problem we see is digestive enzyme insufficiency, i.e. the body not releasing enough protein, fat and carbohydrate digesting enzymes.
The result is that we eat a meal and instead of breaking it down into smaller particles to move through to the small intestine to be assimilated, food ferments in a semi-digested form and hangs around in the stomach for too long. That fermentation causes gas production and that gas means there is a bloat and for some flatulence or pain because of trapped wind.
Lactose intolerance and dairy allergy
It’s critical to rule out delayed dairy allergy reactions and lactose intolerance. A common sign of lactose intolerance is when you have bloating, gas and gut pain soon after consuming dairy meals that contain soft cheeses, cows milk or yoghurt, but seem to be ok with hard yellow cheeses or butter. If this is the case for you it is important to look into the possibility that you have lactose intolerance.
For others it’s not lactose that is the problem. It is the protein in dairy foods that the immune system reacts to creating an immunoglobulin G (IgG) response to. This is a delayed allergic reaction. Bloating, gas, pain and diarrhea or constipation happen three hours to three days after eating those foods.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a big culprit when it comes to causing bloating. SIBO refers to having an abnormal increase in the number of colonic bacteria in the small intestine. Excessive quantities of bacteria in the small intestine can cause bloating, nausea, gas, pain, excessive belching, belching, diarrhea, constipation, or even alternating stools. Rule SIBO out with a breath test.
Dysbiosis & Helicobacter pylori infection
Dysbiosis refers to an imbalance of the bacteria that colonise the large intestine. It is common for good bacteria in the large bowel to undergrow and for opportunistic bacteria to overgrow and behave like an infection in the gut. Those overgrowing bacteria create endotoxins and inflammatory mediators called lipopolysaccharides that circulate around the body, including crossing the blood brain barrier.
Bowel flora that overgrows or undergrow can cause digestive problems further up the intestinal tract and that looks like belching, bloating, gas and pain. Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria found in the stomach that can inhibit the production of hydrochloric acid and contribute to bloating, pain and cause reflux too.
Blastocystis hominis, Dientamoeba fragilis, and Giardia lambia parasites may cause a variety of gut problems including bloating and must be excluded as a potential source. We can check for those parasites, and assess if they are pathogenic and require treatment.
What can we do to help diagnose your bloat?
There are several methods for reducing bloating. The first step is to find out why you’re bloated. Below is a list of examinations that may assist you in determining the source of your bloat. Depending on your symptoms, you will need a health practitioner to refer you for these tests.
- Fecal Fats
- Pancreatic elastase
- Coeliac gene testing
- Coeliac antibody testing
- Helicobacter pylori stool antigen
- Helicobacter pylori breath testing
- PCR and MCS stool test to rule out parasites
- Microbiome analysis with a reputable lab (Genova Diagnostics GI Effects, Complete Microbiome Mapping, Microba or Diagnostic Solutions GI Map)
- Hydrogen breath testing rule out FODMAPS, fructose malabsorption and SIBO with a reputable lab (Stream Diagnostics or Monash University)
Find out what is causing your bloat and let’s treat that. Book an appointment today with one of our nutritionists or naturopaths at Radius Health and begin the journey to bloat-free living.
These treatments are becoming increasingly common, but it can be difficult to find a practitioner who is experienced in the treatment of some of the causes of bloating like SIBO or dysbiosis.
The nutritionists and naturopaths at Radius Health are extensively trained in treating these conditions. Book an appointment with one of our practitioners and begin the journey to bloat-free living.