Think about it – the gut does a lot of interacting with the outside environment. We bring in food, beverages, medications and more into our bodies. The digestive tract breaks down food for nutrients but did you know it is also responsible to deal with toxins, chemicals and infections. Both good and bad bacteria can live in the stomach and about 80% of the immune system is in the stomach. Needless to say, we expect a lot of our gut! Maybe that is why gut healthy food and supplements are being promoted everywhere these days.
What Exactly is Bloating?
With all the work our stomachs do, no wonder things can go array. Bloating is described as a full and tight stomach that can be very uncomfortable for the suffering individual. To deal with bloating, you need to find the root cause to your bloating symptoms. Common culprits of are: constipation, flatulence (gas) and over eating.
Constipation is having less than 3 bowel movements per week. Specifically, bowel movements that are difficult or painful to pass. What can help? Slowly increase fiber rich foods, drink plenty of fluids and get your body moving by walking or doing some type of exercise.
Flatulence/Gas is gut bacteria assists in breakdown of food and can form gas in the process. The average person passes gas 14-23 times per day. What can help? Certain sugars found in every day foods aren’t always digested the best. This is individualized and you have to find what works best for your body. Common food culprits are beans/lentils, dairy products and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Limit or avoid foods that you are sensitive to.
Bloating Caused by Overeating
Taking in too many calories at a meal or over the course of a day is overeating. This can lead to low energy, abdominal discomfort, and fatigue. What can help? Avoid eating directly from containers, keep trigger foods out of the house and turn off electronics while eating.
Other potential causes of bloating:
- Drinking from a straw
- Carbonated drinks
- Sugar alcohols
- Packaged/high sodium food products
- Chewing gum
- Talking and eating
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.