Santa may have a big ole belly, and be jolly, but if you have a big ole belly because you are bloated, you will not be jolly! One of the worst things about bloating is it can happen at random times and sometimes, it can wreck your day. Bloating is uncomfortable, unwanted and often times painful. Bloating happens when your stomach looks swollen, and feels distended, so what causes bloating and what can you do about it?
I started writing about bloating on our nutrition tip at our hot yoga studio called Arrichion in Raleigh, North Carolina ( the Wakefield location www.arrichion.com/wakefield This is a picture from my daughter's instagram account, @klo.fit. She manages the studio and teaches many of our classes, so feel free to follow her as well as our studio @arrichionwakefield. It it not your typical yoga studio, check it out to see what makes it so different!), but let's dig in to what causes B L O A T I N G !
Reasons Why You May Be Bloated
At a glance, you can see this is a big list. There is not just one thing that causes bloating, which is what makes it so very frustrating. There are multiple things that can wreak havoc with your gut and cause bloating. If you have been trying to find out why you struggle with bloating, read the list below and see if you can find some insight.
1. Simple Carbs. Eating a lot of simple carbs can cause your body to potentially have issues with an overgrowth of bacteria which can lead to bloating. This would include white bread, white rice, processed refined cereals, in other words REFINED carbs, not whole grains. This also includes sweets, such as cookies, pies, cakes, candy, and beverages.
2. Eating too much or too fast. When you do this, you can swallow air, and you don't digest food very well. The digestion process starts in the mouth with chewing, so slow down.
3. Inulin, Chicory Root Fiber. If you know have hung around me at all, you know I will LAUNCH on this subject. What the heck is this? Chicory root is an actual plant, and chicory root fiber or inulin is added now to NUMEROUS products to increase the fiber content because it "naturally" adds some sweetness and some creaminess. BUT, the problem, is it can be SO hard to digest. I run away from it with a ten foot pole, but is it is so many products. Take for example, Fiber one Bars, Triple Zero Yogurt, Fiber One Yogurt, Kind Bars, High Protein Granola bars, Halo Top Ice Cream... the list goes on and on and on. And you may be eating multiple products per day with this ingredient. Buyer Beware!
4. Sugar Alcohols. What the heck is that ? It is found in sugarless candy which you may not eat. But guess what, it is in sugarless gum. It comes in the form of mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol so look for the classic "ol" ending on ingredients and it just might be a sugar alcohol. And if you chew a ton of sugarless gum, well, there you go, that alone may be the cause of your tummy troubles.
5. Gluten. Surely you have heard of gluten, and some people are sensitive to it, and some people actually have a full blown auto-immune condition called celiac disease. If you have issues with gluten you need to be 100% gluten free 100% of the time, there is no cheating, especially with celiac. You may think you are getting away with it but you are not. Even 1/8th of a teaspoon of flour can cause damage to the intestines, and other parts of the body, along with the dreaded bloating. .
6. Lactose. Some people have issues with lactose, meaning their body does not produce very much lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, found in milk and other dairy products. The lactose in hard cheeses and yogurt is not very high in lactose, so usually these will not cause issues. Our lactase production decreases as we get older, and it always decreases during times of illness.
7. Fructose. Fructose can be hard to digest and some people have a harder time with it than others. Some fruits are higher in fructose than others, and they include the stone fruits such as plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries, as well as apples, and pears. Fructose is also high in honey, and in some sports nutrition products.
8. Fake Sweeteners. They all can have an effect, and there is some evidence that they may upset the all important microbiome. They include aspartame (Nutrasweet), splenda ( Sucralose), acefulsame potassium and stevia. I personally think we are best to stop using fake sweeteners and get off the sweet tooth train altogether. The fake sweeteners are so much sweeter than sugar, and in my opinion, they just perpetuate our need and desire for sweets instead of satisfying a sweet tooth.
9. Fizzy drinks. It just makes sense, if you drink bubbles you will get bubbles.
10. Food Intolerances. This can be a convoluted road of finding out what you are intolerant to and then keeping it out of your diet, and then reintroducing it. There is a specific test you can have done, it is costly and I recommend you do all the other steps first and save this as a last resort. But just know , this food intolerance test is a possibility and may provide your answers
11. SIBO. This stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. This is becoming more prevalent, or maybe more diagnosed.... Basically, bacteria that belong in the large intestine end up in the small intestine and they proliferate, and you guessed it, they cause bloating.
12. Hormones. Especially the hormone shift brought on by PMS can cause huge shifts in water weight. Stop weighing yourself everyday, your hormones will shift back in your favor and the bloating is temporary !
13. Too much sodium. Consuming high amounts of sodium can cause shifts in water weight, and even though you may not "add" salt to your food, be wary of others who did, for example, restaurants and food companies.
14. Supplements. They can be full of fillers, lactose, gluten and more. Be careful of what you take. Check out my website, I exclusively recommend a brand that is pure, it contains no fillers, artificial colors, flavors, gluten or preservatives, Pure Encapsulations.
15. Too much fiber. Yes, you can eat too much, although most people eat too little. If you are wise and decide to get on health kick, ideally you will eat 30+ grams of fiber. But if you don't usually eat much fiber, increase your intake slowly.
Contact Triangle Nutrition Therapy for more information and personalized nutrition recommendations so you can optimize your health and feel great!