By Chris Jones, DC, DNM
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One of the most uncomfortable symptoms that clients come to me for is chronic bloating. If it’s something you’ve dealt with before, you know what I’m talking about. There was a season of my own life when I dealt with chronic bloating. I was a lean guy but would develop a hard, distended belly at certain times of the day. Let’s just say no fun. 

If you’re one of those people that wakes up in the morning with a flat tummy and goes to bed at night with a bloated one or deals with chronic bloating along with digestive disturbances, this blogpost is for you. 

Here are the top five culprits to blame for chronic bloating. A few of them may surprise you. 

Not Chewing Your Food Properly: 

If food is not chewed properly larger particles enter the digestive tract causing digestive problems such as gas, bloating, constipation, food reactions, headaches and lowered energy levels. 

Thoroughly chewing your food increases production of this EGF, nourishing the gut. Food particles that are not properly broken down can cause bacterial overgrowth and increased fermentation in the gut, leading to conditions such as indigestion, bloating, increased gas, and constipation. Ideally, you should be chewing most bites of food 20-30 times (some softer foods 5-10 times). Next time you take a bite of food, start counting how many times you chew, and you’ll realize just how much 20-30 chews really is. Most of us don’t realize that we are swallowing massive chunks of food instead of chewing it properly. 

Food Sensitivities: 

Many people who are struggling with chronic bloating have underlying food sensitivities that they are unaware of. Oftentimes, the foods we’ve classified as “healthy” can lead to gut-damaging inflammation like dairy, gluten, and grains. Even gluten-free grains and whole grains contain amylose sugars that “bad” bacteria and fungi love to binge on. These only feed inflammation. There isn’t one diet that fits every single person. Some people can eat sprouted grains or mix up a batch of gluten-free waffles and feel amazing while it might cause someone else to have a stomachache the rest of the day. Every person has slightly different needs in regard to food. But one thing is for certain across the board: Highly processed, artificial, sugary, inflammatory foods are always going to cause problems. 

Chronic Stress: 

Stress puts a lot of pressure on your stomach and abdomen, and upsets the delicate balance of hormones and neurotransmitters. This could create an environment where foods that could normally be digested easily end up being digested poorly, leading to the creation of gas and bloating. 

Additionally, swallowing oxygen oftentimes accompanies anxiety (when your breathing becomes shallow) which can bloat your stomach, and may lead to significant belching and stomach tension. 

Eating Raw Vegetables: 

Who would have thought that a bottle of “detox juice” or a giant, raw vegetable salad, or a big helping of broccoli or asparagus could make you feel bloated? 

That's because vegetables contain a heaping dose of fiber, which is fermented by bacteria in the colon (known as the intestinal microbiota). Through this process, it produces gas. If your digestive system isn’t used to this type of fiber load, excessive gas and bloating may occur. If you have imbalances in your microbiota that developed after a case of food poisoning or antibiotic use, it could make you more sensitive to the effects of fiber. 

Additionally, some people may have a minor intolerance to nightshade plants (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers). This is because they aren't able to digest them fully. People with a food intolerance may experience gas, bloating, and diarrhea. In more extreme cases, they may experience fatigue and joint pain.

Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage vegetables, which contain raffinose — a sugar that remains undigested until bacteria in your gut ferment it, which produces gas and, in turn, makes you bloat.

This doesn’t mean that you can never eat these vegetables again, but you may need some supplemental support and gut repair to enjoy them without discomfort or eat certain vegetables in moderation. 

SIBO, IBS, H. pylori, or Other Digestive Issues: 

SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) is an imbalance of the microorganisms in your gut that maintain healthy digestion. When too many bacteria, or the wrong kind, populate the small intestine, it can lead to unwelcome and uncomfortable symptoms such as gas and diarrhea. It can also inhibit your ability to digest and absorb nutrients from food. SIBO is one of the things I most frequently treat clients for. 

Signs and symptoms of SIBO often include loss of appetite, malnutrition, abdominal pain, unintentional weight loss, nausea, bloating, that uncomfortable, “overly-full” feeling after eating, and diarrhea. It’s commonly associated with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid levels, irritable bowel syndrome, certain gastric bypass procedures, and sometimes surgeries that result in adhesions. 

Helicobacter pylori or more commonly known as H. pylori is also a type of bacteria. These germs can enter your body and live in your digestive tract. After many years, they can cause sores, called ulcers, in the lining of your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine.

So here’s the bottom line question: Which one is the culprit? 

Is it dairy? Nightshade vegetables? SIBO? Chronic Stress? You could spend years of your life gassy, bloated, and uncomfortable and have no idea why. Fortunately, there are incredible tests that I use with my clients such as the GI Map & Viome Stool Testing that will help you pinpoint exactly what you are dealing with so that you can form a strategic plan for moving forward. Additionally, I guide each of my clients through a total body cleanse and elimination diet to help them pinpoint trigger foods that may be irritating. 

If you’re interested in my program, contact me for a free consultation! 

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