We all have experienced bloating before. Most people experience this as a feeling of fullness, tightness and an extended belly. For some, the belly is only extended slightly and they have a little stomach ache. But when it is really bad, the belly can swell up like a basketball and you are in a lot of pain.
What Causes Bloating?
Bloating is the collection of gas in the small and large intestine. This happens when undigested carbohydrates, fibers or amino acids reach the large intestine.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most people pass gas up to 20 times a day. If the gas is scentless and made up of carbon dioxide or hydrogen, it’s not much of a concern. In this case, it’s usually gas from your gut bacteria digesting fibers or air, if you’ve eaten too fast.
If the gas has a bad or even rotten smell, then it’s a sign that something is off in your digestive system. It can be a sign that your bacterial balance in the gut is off or that fecal matter is essentially rotting in your intestines because they aren’t moved out quickly enough.
So, how can you prevent gases from forming in your digestive tract and keep your digestion working well? Key influencing factors include your diet and the composition of your gut flora.
How Your Diet Can Influence Bloating
A simple reason for bloating may be that you ate a very large meal, ate too fast or had a carbonated drink like a soda.
Certain eating habits, such as eating too quickly, drinking through a straw, chewing gum, sucking on candies or talking while chewing results in swallowing more air. This excess air will eventually reach your intestine, resulting in bloating and stomach aches.
There are specific foods and drinks with certain ingredients that cause more bloating than others. Here are the most important ones to note:
- Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
- Some vegetables, especially cabbage, kale, celery, onions
- Some fruits, like plums and pears
- Whole grains
- Soda and all carbonated drinks
- Sugar and sugar additives
In addition, excess salt or too much fat can sometimes lead to bloating. If you are eating foods that are high in sodium, your body holds on to fluids that can make you feel bloated.
According to Anna Taylor, a Dietitian at Cleveland Clinic, the most sodium, by far, in the typical American Standard Diet comes from processed foods, restaurant foods and convenience foods. She also says that foods high in fat can sometimes cause bloating, because they’re slow to leave your stomach and enhance the possibility of gas forming.
Food intolerances can cause bloating as well. For example, if someone who is lactose intolerant eats a big serving of dairy-rich ice cream, the lactose cannot get properly broken down in the digestive process. Instead, lactose sits in the gut and becomes food for your gut bacteria. This is a feast for them, and they begin to digest the lactose very quickly, which leads to gas production.
How Your Gut Flora Can Lead To Bloating
Next to your diet the second most influential factor for bloating is changes in your gut flora. Bloating can indicate an overgrowth of bad bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi in the gut microbiome. These pathogens produce large amounts of gas while they reproduce rapidly and digest the food particles in your intestines.
If the overgrowth of pathogens persists over longer periods of time, you may notice additional digestive issues such as changes in bowel movements. In addition, this can lead to inflammation in the gut, and over time, even leaky gut.
One common pathogen that leads to serious bloating is the yeast Candida Albicans. Candida infections can occur in the urinary tract, the vaginal tract and in the intestines. Signs that Candida has overgrown in the intestines include: bloating, gas, changes in bowel movement, a thick white coating on your tongue, and strong cravings for sugar and sweets.
You can read all about Candida and how to fight yeast infections in our blog post here.
The healthy balance of your gut bacteria is the foundation for healthy digestion, without bloating, gas and intestinal discomfort. A probiotic supplement is key in restoring and maintaining a healthy, balanced gut flora.
Adding a multispecies probiotic supplement comprising the most important probiotic strains (Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Enterococcus) will support optimal digestion without extensive gas production and bloating.
Furthermore, certain types of probiotic bacteria can fight pathogens directly as well as make the environment in the gut less favorable for pathogens to survive and thrive. This helps to prevent and relieve bloating.
OMNi-BiOTiC BALANCE combines specific important probiotic strains that help to optimize digestion, and alleviate bloating and gas. Furthermore, this probiotic has shown in lab studies to inhibit the growth of the common pathogen Candida Albicans.
How To Manage Bloating
If you’re experiencing bloating, there are several things you can try: understand your food intolerances and avoid these foods, opt out of eating foods that commonly cause bloating, eat slower and do not drink through straws, and, perhaps most importantly, add a high-quality probiotic to your daily regimen.