Now that Christmas is over I guess you are wondering if your bloating is from overeating or that there is something else going on. There are many factors that can cause us to be bloated . The trick is to find which one it is. This can be where the real challenge is.
Some of the factors that cause us to be bloated are: What we eat, The way we eat, our ability to breakdown food and our bacterial balance.
What we eat
Some of you may have notice which foods bloat you others may feel that all foods bloat you. High sulphur foods seem to be problematic for some people. These foods get broken down in the large intestines and produce hydrogen sulphide gas. High sulphur food can lead to more gas and it is often smelly ‘aka rotten egg gas’.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels Sprouts are all sulphur foods, they also contain an oligosaccharide called raffinose. As humans we cannot breakdown raffinose, as we don’t have the enzymes needed. It passes through our stomach undigested. The bacteria in our stomach ferments the foods that don’t get broken down and this can lead to gas and bloating.
The way we eat
No longer do we sit and eat our meals in a restful state. We run from meeting to meeting or rush to pack in everything that needs to be completed before we pick the kids up. We are eating at our desks, in our car, standing at our kitchen bench. It really is no wonder we are not digesting.
If you’re coming from an intense meeting or you are rushing to get everything done. You are likely to be in ‘fight or flight’ mode. When we are in this state our body doesn’t prioritise digestion. It is sending all our blood and energy to our arms and legs so we can run away. As a consequence of this the food ferments and this causes us bloating.
Are you chewing properly? Not chewing stops the enzymes and hydrochloric that are needed to breakdown the food from being produced. Without these cofactors it is near impossible to digest the food we have eaten.
Overeating is a big cause of being bloated. The more you eat the harder your body has to work to break the food down. Bloating will be caused by fermentation of the food waiting to be broken down.
Our ability to breakdown food
Our food digestion is only as good as our digestive fire. Digestive Fire is how well our body produces the enzymes and hydrochloric acid we need to breakdown the foods that we have eaten. Enzymes and hydrochloric acid levels get depleted as we age. Conditions like Coeliac disease and some pancreatic conditions can disrupt the output of these enzymes. Diet is an important consideration here. Highly processed diets stop us from making the enzymes we need. Stress levels can impair our ability to make these enzymes.
Our stomach acid activates the digestive enzymes to breakdown the proteins into smaller proteins. If you don’t have enough hydrochloric acid you cannot make the digestive enzymes need to breakdown these proteins.
This is simply an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. The two biggest things that causes dysbiosis are our diet and antibiotics.
The Standard Australian diet (SAD) is highly processed, high in salt, sugar, fat and lacking in fibre. This is the major contributor to dysbiosis. Diets with adequate fibre keep the bad bacteria in check. Aim for at least 28g fibre per day.
Antibiotic use is a major cause of dysbiosis. When we take antibiotics it kills some of the bacteria for up to four years after we have taken them. Using multiple rounds of antibiotics or frequent use kills some of these bacteria forever. This has a profound impact on how your gut works.
What can you do?
Well it’s not all doom and gloom.
Some practical steps to put in place are:
Take three deep breathes to get into rest and digest before you eat.
Eat bitter foods as this increases production of your digestive enzymes. Foods like raddichio, spinach, kale and artichokes all classed as bitter foods.
Chew! The more you can chew each bite the smaller the particles, the easier to absorb and less likely to ferment.
Keep your emotions in check when you eat. Eating when angry or upset sets you into ‘fight or flight’ making digestion a low priority for your body.