What Is Bloating?
Bloating – we have all experienced it, and have all wondered what exactly is happening to our bodies? Why do certain foods make us feel bloated? What exactly is happening to the stomach to create the high-pressure, air-filled sensation? What can we do to decrease or eliminate bloating? This week we hope to answer all of these questions and hopefully help you experience this a little less!
What is bloating?
The direct definition of bloat/bloating is when something becomes filled with a fluid or a gas. In the case of human bloating, it is the latter that is likely the cause. Our bodies are processing many different metabolic reactions at any given moment, so when these reactions are more extreme or rapid, gases can be released as a byproduct of the reaction. This explanation grossly over simplifies what may actually cause that full-belly feeling.
In fact, researchers are unable to pin-point one specific reason for bloating. Some research cites gastro-intestinal sensitivity and imbalanced gut microflora as the most common reasons that individuals experience bloating. The hypersensitive stomachs may not be well equipped to process the breakdown of certain foods, and therefore release gas into the stomach area as a byproduct of an incomplete, or fast breakdown.
Imbalanced gut microflora can also cause excessive gas build-up because the gut microflora eat and breakdown the food that you are digesting, they release gases into the intestinal area, which could contribute to bloat.
What can we do to decrease bloating?
With hypersensitivity, and gut flora now pegged as two of the more common reasons for bloating, we can begin to create solutions in order to avoid bloating.
- Practice Moderation
Quite often people experience bloating after consuming a very large meal. The quick consumption of large quantities of food can actually incorporate air into your food. So while you body tries to digest a very large amount of food, it is also processing the excess air that you inhaled while eating.
Your quickest fix for bloating is to practice moderation and try not to wolf down your food to quickly.
- Pay attention to potential food allergens
Returning to the hypersensitivity of the gut and gut flora, if you are consuming foods that your body does not have the enzymes to break down due to allergies or other diseases/conditions, then this could trigger bloating.
If you are experiencing bloating on a fairly regular basis and are eating food in moderation, then try keeping tracking of the foods that cause the most irritation. You could have a sensitivity to something in the food that is causing you to bloat.
- Avoid sugar alcohols
Those little bacteria that make up your gut flora love sugar, so when you consume foods that contain sugar alcohols your microflora gobble that stuff up and produce gas in the process. Some examples of sugar alcohols are sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol, and isomalt.
- Talk to your doctor
One of the other most common reasons for bloating is actually chronic conditions/diseases. If you find that your bloating is persistent and you are hypersensitive to everything, then talking to your doctor is a good idea to rule out anything more serious.
Bloating is incredibly common but that does not mean we need to accept it as part of life. There are many ways to avoid and control bloating so you don’t have to experience another “food baby” again! To help you get started, here is a list of the most common foods and beverages that cause bloating:
- Carbonated Drinks
- Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.)