10 Common Causes of Bloat

Belly Bloat is one of the most common symptoms for women to go to their doctor,  “Bloating is absolutely is the number one thing I see in my practice It’s sort of that common, non-specific way for the GI tract to let you know it’s unhappy.” explains gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan, author of the The Bloat CureGutbliss, andThe Microbiome Solution.  So why is our gut so temperamental?  We certainly have the space in the belly for issues to arise; the gut is a huge, complicated system (also known as the “second brain”)  where we have both internal and external influences that react every second of every day.  Our gut responds to the foods we eat, emotions we feel, movements we make, environment we live in, and medicines we take.
 
The constant feedback we receive from our gut can make it difficult to pin down what exactly is the problem.  Frustrating!  Once you have eliminated any serious issues; i.e. your bleeding, in severe pain or losing weight without explanation, etc.. it can be time to implement a bit of detective work on your end.  Start with an elimination approach suggest Robynne Chutkan, “Tackle one thing at a time—and go with the simplest thing first,” she recommends. 
 
Below are 8 common, perhaps surprising reasons you could be bloating and how to adjust your habits around them.
 
 
Eating Distractedly 
Your on your phone, computer, watching TV, getting through a tough email, conquering the world…whilst also shoving food into your mouth.  Because you can do it all and need no breaks! Slow down!  When we eat distractedly, multi-task we consequently swallow a ton of air in between bites.  The food then shoves that air down into our gut and you can imagine where that ends up bubbling up.  Dr. Chutkan says that aerophagia (swallowing air) becomes more prevalent as multi tasking takes over.  Interestingly, people who suffer from allergies
The Fix:  Eat more mindfully.  Ditch chewing gum altogether, don’t drink during meals, and practice deep breathing.
Dehydration
Drinking 8 glasses a water a day is a great start, but it doesn’t mean your meeting your water requirement on days when you’re more active.  Drinking coffee or soda also zaps our water reserves, even when we take an antihistamine or spend all day in the air conditioning our water reserves become depleted.  When this happens our gut becomes less lubricated and stagnation happens-bloating.
The Fix: Drink water throughout the day even when you don’t necessarily feel thirsty.  Urine is a good indicator on how hydrated you truly are-the lighter the better.  Also consider eating more foods or smoothies that contain a high amount of water within them to boost your intake. 
 
Depression
There is a link between low serotonin levels in the gut and depression (our second brain again at work) which can lead to constipation and bloating-along with the medications used to treat depression.  
The Fix:
Start with talk therapy before prescribing to a pill.  Additionally, Dr. Chutkan recommends exercise as a natural mood booster.  “Movement helps to lift the mood, and it doesn’t have to be intense to get a bit of an endorphin rush.”  Think happy movements (see my article earlier this month on Happy Movement vs. Stressful Movements)
 
Stress
Stress is awful to our bodies and minds in nearly every way, but it certainly has it’s place in how we survive and sometimes motivate ourselves to push forward.  When it comes to constant stress, however,
our gut suffers especially.  It signals out gut to slow down, can affect the pH of the digestive tract, and also impacts our enzyme and acid secretion (what breaks our food down).  
The Fix:
Meditate.  Whether that’s in stillness or getting into nature and tuning into your body and breathing.  Giving your mind that break is important, SO important, continue to keep meditation as a part of your wellness regime.  If these on your own practices don’t provide you any relief consider speaking with a professional.  
 
Pain Medications
“NSAIDS” are super toxic to your GI tract, but because there’s so much marketing of these drugs, there’s this perception that they’re benign,” says Dr. Chutkan. Enough said. 
The Fix:
Use these medication sparingly.  They truly are a huge hit to your gut.  Dr. Chutkan explains “There’s nothing you can take with no side effects.  And the place you’re most likely to see a side effect is in your gut.”
 
Appendectomies
Having your appendix taken out is nothing you can truly prevent or avoid.  “The appendix is super important.  What I see is that people who have their appendix out often have way worse bloating, particularly after an infectious episode, because they don’t have that reserve of good gut bacteria that the appendix is supplying.” says Dr. Chutkan.  The appendix harbors friendly microbes for emergency situations like an infection.
The Fix:
Steer clear of antibiotics when you can.
 
Hormone Craziness
There are a multitude of factors that lead to estrogen dominance in women (linked to bloating)- and birth control is one of them.  Artificial hormones have this affect on the body.  
The Fix:
Consider other birth control options outside of the pill.  Also avoid xenoestrogens-usually found in plastics, cleaning supplies, some raised produce and meat.
 
Skipping Meals
“If there are long periods of time where nothing’s moving through the gut, it becomes a little bit inactive,” explains Dr. Chutkan.  A long stretch between meals makes it more likely that you will bloat as the gut begins to activate again.  
The Fix:
Don’t skip breakfast, or fast throughout the day.  Fuel up  regularly even if its something small. 
 
Desk Jobs
Sitting all day isn’t great for any aspect of health-the gut being no exception, it causes our gut to slow down immensely becoming a major cause of bloating.
The Fix:
Schedule times throughout day to walk around or better yet get in a lunchtime workout.  If you can get a standing desk or treadmill desk to combat the necessary evils of all day desk work.  Or become a park ranger.
 
Cruciferous Veggies
They’re great for you!  But the high fiber content in these super-foods make it very difficult for the belly to break them down effectively leading to bloat.
The Fix:
Add some acid to those veggies like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.  These acids can help to stimulate g
ood digestive enzymes.
If one of these more common reasons of bloat resonated with you give “The Fix”a try and see if there’s something there that can help you feel more comfortable and ultimately cure what is creating your gut discomfort and bloating.
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