02 Oct causes of belly bloat
It can take over your life. Seriously. No one wants to feel, or look, bloated. However, most people go through periods of experiencing bloating at some point in their life. And sometimes those periods can last years and get worse over time. An increasing variety of foods may begin causing bloating and discomfort, or the bloating can become more pronounced. This can lead to feelings of confusion (why is this happening?), frustration (why can’t I just be “normal”?), or even feelings of disappointment with a body that seems to be failing you.
I am here to tell you that your body is not failing you. These symptoms are a signal that your body needs support.
why does my body need support?
This is a question I get often. “Why is my body experiencing these symptoms while everyone else seems just fine?” This can be a challenging hurdle to clear for most people. But please understand, you are far from alone. Some individuals may be experience more significant symptoms than others, but nearly everyone around you is experiencing something. If you were to ask 20 people in a coffee shop or park, most adults and even many children are experiencing symptoms. This can include a variety of symptoms including difficulty falling or staying asleep, anxiety, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, eczema, fatigue, brain fog, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, PCOS, autoimmune condition, or dozens of other symptoms or conditions. It’s an incredibly sad but true reality.
how has this become “normal”?
There are many underlying causes. It is a combination of our incredibly fast-paced, stressful lives; a high prevalence of convenient foods using refined grains, sugars, and artificial ingredients; relatively low consumption of healing fruits and vegetables; and an environment with an exponentially increasing amount of toxins. This isn’t meant to bum you out. It is meant to be a wakeup call what it’s time to ramp up your self-care by taking control of your health and be a part of creating a new normal.
Now that you understand you’re not alone and why – let’s get back to the bloat.
common causes of belly bloat
Constant, chronic stress has many negative effects on the body. A few of the results of chronic stress on the body are also on this list. Stress on the body comes in many shapes and sizes. It includes everything from chronic daily stress, surgeries, infections, sleep deficits, to consistent blood sugar imbalances. It can also include frequent high intensity exercise sessions that are not balanced with periods of resting the body.
Some stress is good for us, but ongoing high levels are not. Life will continue to throw us curve balls. So, adapting techniques and lifestyle practices to help you find periods of rest and to better roll with life’s uncertainties is key.
Low Stomach Acid
Low stomach acid is the number one contributor to bloating. And what causes low stomach acid? Stress. The constant presence of those stress hormones, over time will decrease the production of stomach acid. Stomach acid also naturally decreases as we age (65+). When you have low stomach acid, you cannot breakdown proteins properly, causing the undigested proteins to stay too long in your intestine, causing bloat. It also can lead to microbes that generally live in our large intestine and help our bodies to further break down food, to migrate to the small intestine (SIBO). This will cause the belly to bloat.
One simple tip to improve stomach acid production is to drink a room temperature glass of water each morning with 1 tbsp of lemon juice on an empty stomach. It’s best to enjoy 20-30 minutes before eating or drinking anything else for optimal benefits.
We have trillions of bacteria all over our body, and particularly in our gut. It’s called our microbiome. “Good” and “not so good” bacteria live in both our small intestine and (mostly in our) large intestine. They are incredibly beneficial and support our body in many processes. However, when the “not so good” guys thrive, it throws the digestive tract and body off balance. This imbalance is called dysbiosis. There are many potential causes of dysbiosis including diet, stress, toxin exposure, and low stomach acid.
The good news is that we can begin to influence our microbiome in as few as 2 to 3 days through diet and lifestyle practices.
Chronic dehydration is all too common. Dehydration can be caused by either not drinking enough water each day, too much caffeine, or both. As a result, your body will try to hold onto water in an effort to be sure it’s there when you need it. This water retention can feel like bloating. In addition to drinking more water and reducing/removing caffeine, adding lemon to your water or drinking coconut water will help rehydrate your body
When things aren’t moving, you will definitely feel bloated. If you’re going less than 1-2x per day, you are constipated. Factors that contribute to constipation include dehydration and stress (see how everything is interconnected?!). A diet low in fiber (think plants) also plays a large role. Depression and low thyroid function also slow down the digestive process and commonly contribute to constipation.
Drinking more water and eating vegetables and especially fruits with each meal and snack will make a big difference for most people.
The two most common food-sensitivities that cause bloating are gluten and dairy. Others foods may also be involved. Listen to your body. Most people know intuitively what food(s) are causing the issues. These foods may only need to be removed temporarily to allow the body time to heal. Or it may need to be avoided long-term. It varies with each individual based on the needs of their unique system.
listen to your body
It is always important to pair information with listening to your body. What is true for you? It may be one or even a few of the causes mentioned above. Each of our systems is unique and will require addressing it’s individual needs. The goal is to provide the body with what it’s missing so it can begin to heal.
Pay attention to all of your symptoms. What else is going on besides bloating? How significant is the bloating? If you are in pain and experiencing other symptoms, please seek medical advice to understand the root of your discomfort and to rule out a potential infection or other threatening condition.