If you suffer from painful gas or bloating, you might be able to alleviate your symptoms by taking probiotic supplements. One common cause of this ailment is having an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in your digestive tract. Probiotics add beneficial bacteria to your digestive tract, which work in harmony with your body, rather than against it.
More than 30 percent of people report experiencing bloating regularly, 10-15% have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and at least 40% of people worldwide experience some form of FGID or Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder.
While developing small amounts of gas is quite normal, and everyone experiences it, gas and gas pain can be worse and more persistent for people suffering from GI disorders. It’s the same with bloating: for some people, it’s mild and merely a nuisance, but for others, it is painful and interferes with daily life. While scientists know what causes gas, there is no conclusion about what truly causes bloating and no pharmaceutical cure. Frequent and ongoing gas and bloat is often a sign that something is out of balance with your gut health.
Recent research has pointed more and more to imbalances in the gut microbiome as the culprit of many gastrointestinal issues.
The balance between healthy bacteria and harmful bacteria in your digestive tract is all-important. When the microbiome is balanced and the number of beneficial bacteria outweighs the number of bad bacteria, the digestive system will function properly.
But when there are too many pathogens and unwanted microorganisms in the gut, gas and bloating may be among the first warning signs. Depression, weight gain, and IBS, among other things, have also been linked to changes in the gut flora. And due to years of processed food, heavy antibiotic use, and stressful lifestyles, many—if not most of us—need help repairing our gut!
One important thing to note: researchers have identified that bloating (the feeling of swelling in your abdomen) is not the same thing as distention (actual expansion of the abdomen). We’ll use bloating and distention interchangeably because even most physicians do the same, and they’ll understand if you describe distention as bloating.
What Can Cause Gas and Bloating in the Stomach and Digestive System?
Gas and bloating can happen for more reasons than you might think. Excess gas is the primary cause of flatulence and a distended belly.
This gas can result from an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut, your diet and ability to digest the food you eat, and even how you eat. Certain health conditions like IBS and inflammatory bowel disease may lead to bloat. Weak abdominal muscles, slow digestion, stress, anxiety, and hormones can also play a role.
Gut dysbiosis refers to the condition when the composition of microbes in the gut is out of balance. A healthy gut has a balance and diversity of bacteria. Many health issues, including gas and bloating, tend to begin with an imbalance in the gut microbiome.
It has been shown that there is a distinct difference in the number and type of bacterial strains in people who have a healthy gut versus in those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and bloat.
Scientists hypothesize that these bacteria produce excessive gas, leading to bloating and distention, something called abnormal intraluminal fermentation.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, is a type of dysbiosis with even higher levels of bad bacteria, located not only in the colon but in the small intestine.
Just as with dysbiosis and irritable bowel syndrome, there are also distinct differences in the gut bacteria of patients with SIBO with bloating versus Healthy Controls. SIBO is also strongly associated with IBS, with some studies showing an up to 78% correlation.
Constipation or IBS
It’s not always an overabundance of gas in the system that leads to bloating, but rather holding on to it for too long.
People suffering from constipation have slow digestion, being unable to process food as quickly as others do. This leads to a back-up in their digestive tract that can cause the body not to be able to expel gas, resulting in the feeling of bloating and abdominal distention. Some studies have shown that unhealthy gut bacteria are actually the cause of slow digestion.
Not surprisingly, eating habits can contribute to excess gas in the gut. Chewing gum, using a straw, or drinking carbonated beverages can cause you to swallow air without knowing it—and it goes not just to your lungs but to your stomach.
Even heavy workouts can induce something called “Air Hunger” that forces you to breathe through your mouth to get enough oxygen. When this swallowed air goes to the gut, it leads to bloating.
Legumes, indigestible fibers, or even prebiotics can sometimes exacerbate IBS symptoms, as these cannot be digested in our gut and become food for pathogenic bacteria in the colon. Harmful bacteria also flourish on a diet of fat and sugar.
Food intolerances can also give rise to digestive issues, including abdominal pain, gas, and bloating. Common food intolerances include gluten, dairy (lactose), soy, and fructose. If you suspect you may have a food sensitivity. In that case, it’s best to work with an experienced healthcare practitioner such as a dietician or nutritionist to identify these sensitivities to help your digestive health.
Weak Abdomen or Poor Gas Handling
In some people, the anterior abdominal muscle operates abnormally, whether from weakness or poor posture.
When operating normally, the diaphragm should relax, and the abdominals contract. Instead, the abdominal wall relaxes while the diaphragm contracts, causing the anterior abdominal wall to expand and the gut to protrude outward. The gas gets pushed around within the abdomen, leading to feelings of being bloated, even if gas volume remains the same.
Finally, it’s becoming more and more evident in recent years how much stress plays a role in overall wellness and human disease.
Stress causes the digestive system to shut down to transfer oxygen and energy to more vital organs, which can help you fight through the stressful situation. As a result, food doesn’t get processed well, leading to more gas and bloating.
Ways to Relieve Bloating
Bloating can often arise from more than one source. Counteracting the specific cause of your bloating will help relieve it, so it’s best to work with an experienced healthcare professional who can perform the right tests, such as taking a stool sample, diagnose the issue, and deliver the proper protocol for you to follow. Nonetheless, there are a few things you can try at home.
Since there is such a strong link between the bacterial flora in the gut and a person’s digestion—even if the exact function or cause is unknown—the best place to start getting a handle on the issue is to repair your gut and restore its levels of healthy microflora.
Taking a high-quality, targeted, multistrain, multispecies probiotic can help restore balance to your gut microbiome and with that, promote optimal digestion. Some probiotics supplements include specific beneficial bacteria that have been shown in research to alleviate bloating and gas. Omni-Biotic Balance is one of those targeted probiotics.
When the microbiome is restored, excess gas production and flatulence will decrease significantly, along with bloating and distention. This is just one of several health benefits of probiotics.
A low-FODMAP diet is hugely effective, reducing bloating symptoms in 50-80% of IBS patients.
FODMAPS are fermentable carbohydrates and saccharides such as dairy, sugars, processed carbs, beans and lentils, and even some fruits and vegetables. Because the sugars in them are small, the body can digest them easily, and eating them allows bacteria to flourish.
By following this diet and eliminating such foods in the short term, you can starve overgrown or harmful bacteria of energy.
Activated Charcoal with Simethicone
Activated charcoal traps gas molecules, and simethicone breaks them apart. They’re not a cure for the root issue, but they can help with symptoms while you’re healing.
Which Probiotics are Best for Bloating and Gas?
Probiotic dietary supplements restore balance to the gut. By having a sufficient amount of good bacteria in our colons and digestive tracts, we reduce negative side effects like gas and bloating. It’s even been shown that probiotics can increase gut motility, speeding up digestion, so things don’t get backed up.
If you suffer from bloating and gas, it is most important to figure out what the cause is so that you can work against this. For example, if you have a food allergy or sensitivity to dairy and this causes bloating and gas, then it is a good idea to avoid dairy-rich foods.
That said, taking a probiotic supplement with key beneficial bacteria that restore and maintain a healthy gut microbiome can be very helpful in reducing bloating and gas.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the two probiotic strains that scientists have demonstrated to be most helpful during trials on patients with IBS, SIBO, or Functional Abdominal Bloating and Distention (FABD).
All in all, regular gas and bloating are a sign that there is something off in your digestive tract and often point to a gut microbiome imbalance. Replenishing your body with probiotic bacteria in the form of probiotics is one of the most important things to focus on when you’re conquering gas and bloating.
Digestive issues are not something you have to live with forever. Get started on a probiotic supplement, eat fresh, healthy foods, stay active, and manage your stress.
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