Why Are You Bloated in the Afternoon?
You used to have an iron stomach and then one day...
One day your stomach began to blow up like a balloon. But so what, it was just something you ate that day, right? Right? Except then it happened the next day and the next. Before you knew it, you were buying pants with stretchy waist bands, loose tops that hid your bloated belly and had bottles of Gas-X rolling around your purse. What is this? What is happening?
As the founder of The SAD Stomach, and the author of , I hear from people all the time that are experiencing this uncomfortable condition. "Beat the Bloat - Saying Goodbye to Stomach Bloating Forever
"One in 10 Americans say they suffer from bloating regularly, even when they haven’t eaten a large meal. In some cases, bloating can become severe enough that it causes distention, or a perceptible swelling of the abdomen. Bloating and gas are usually tied to what and how you eat, so a few simple changes may help."
WebMD and I agree that bloating is tied to what you eat. However, we disagree on what that means. Many doctors attribute stomach bloating to three factors - overeating, eating rich and fatty food and eating too fast. These factors can cause bloating. We've all eaten too much at a holiday meal and then regretted it. We've all eaten a rich meal and found it did not exactly agree with us. We've all eaten on the run and bloated. But the premise here is shaky, because many of us are not doing those things everyday, but we are bloating everyday.
First things first
If you are experiencing sudden and unexplained bloating, run (don't walk) to your doctor. You must rule out serious diseases, particularly ovarian cancer. Do not scare yourself silly over this (as I did, once upon a time) just get it done and put your mind at rest.
Bloating may also be a symptom of a food sensitivity. Many people are lactose intolerant or have an immune response to gluten. Severe response to gluten is called Celiac's disease, however, it is speculated that many people have a low-grade immune response to gluten. If you believe your stomach bloating may be linked to a particular type of food, cut it from your diet for a few weeks and see if you experience improvement.
Now that You Have Ruled Out Serious Causes...
Once you have ruled out serious causes, you can begin to unravel what is going on. Each person is unique, yet the digestive system has some overarching patterns it needs to follow for good health.
1. Food must be properly broken down by digestive enzymes.
There are many reasons why digestive enzymes are not doing their job properly. Some as simple as not thoroughly chewing food to get the enzymes in the mouth going, and some more serious such as pancreatic insufficiency.
2. Food must travel through the digestive system at the correct rate of speed, neither too fast or too slow.
Many people, and it seems women especially, have a digestion that runs in fits and starts. They may feel that they primarily suffer from diarrhea, but it is often the case that what they really suffer from is a pattern of constipation, diarrhea, constipation. They hardly notice the constipation because they feel a day without diarrhea is a good day.
3. Food must encounter friendly bacteria and it must travel through a digestive tract with a healthy lining.
Friendly bacteria (probiotics) must have the upper-hand in the digestive tract. They help break down food, protect the lining of the tract and fight off damaging invaders. Think of this as soldiers defending your borders - it is an ongoing battle and, unfortunately, there are many reasons, like antibiotics, stress, lifestyle and diet that can overhwelm your soldiers.
If the above series of events and/or states becomes disrupted or compromised, bloating after eating is often the result.
So Now What?
You've ruled out serious disease, you either don't have a food sensitivity or you have removed the offender from your diet, and you are still bloating every day. Now what can you do?
Fix the fundamentals.
1. Check in with your digestive enzymes. Testing whether digestive enzymes are doing their job is easy to do - Try taking a high quality digestive enzyme supplement. If you are lacking in enzymes, you will notice an immediate difference in how you feel.
2. Regulate the transit time of your digestion. While ginger* is well-known for soothing upset stomach, it is also a powerful regulator and anti-inflammatory. Ginger capsules can be purchased in any grocery store. If your digestion seems sluggish, try a magnesium supplement. Magnesium will draw water into the colon, moving waste through at a speedier pace. Many Americans are deficient in this mineral, so when purchasing magnesium, keep in mind that the cheapest supplements are often comprised solely of magnesium oxide, which is not particularly bio-available. Look for a high quality product with a blend of magnesium types. I prefer Vital Nutrients brand Triple Mag 250.
3. Ensure that friendly bacteria is guarding your borders. This is an ongoing process. You should be taking in probiotics every day. For those who do not wish to consume additional lactose, kefir is a good choice and it 99% lactose free.
Stomach bloating can be frustrating. It is important to remember you are not alone. A quick stroll down the pharmacy aisle will confirm that this condition is chronic and widespread. But, you can take these simple steps to begin to heal your digestion.
May you go forward, not spending any of your precious life wondering what your stomach is doing.
*Always talk to your health provider before adding herbs and supplements. Some herbs and supplements are contraindicated for certain diseases, conditions and medications. Ginger has blood thinning properties and should not be taken in conjunction with medications that thin the blood. Only your doctor can assess if ginger or any other supplement, is right for you.
Supplements for good digestive health
© 2013 Deb Maselli