7 reasons why you’re bloated
...and how to fix it so it never happens again.
#1 – You’ve got food intolerances
This is the biggest reason why people suffer from bloating after eating. It’s a direct result of your digestive system reacting to something it perceives as potentially harmful!
You might think you’re not intolerant to anything, but that’s very rarely the case. Everyone has foods that they are sensitive to in some degree. Unlike clinical allergies, food intolerances can go undetected for years as the symptoms can be hard to spot. But if you swell up like a balloon after eating a certain food, it’s a sign that it’s probably not right for you!
How do you know if you are intolerant to a particular food? Keep a food diary for a week and monitor how you feel after every meal. When the week is up, go back through the diary and look at the times when you weren’t feeling so good after eating. Look at the meals you ate directly before this point, and see if there is a common offender.
Once you have established the foods that you think are causing you problems, cut them out for two weeks to see if your symptoms improve. If they do, you have found the culprits! If not, you may have to start the process again.
Common food intolerances include gluten, dairy, eggs, shellfish and soy. Some people are also sensitive to a group of foods called the nightshade family, which include peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and aubergines.
The good thing about food intolerances is that once you have found the problem, you can adjust your diet accordingly to fix it!
#2 – You don’t have enough ‘friendly’ bacteria
The ‘friendly’ bacteria in our gut, also known as probiotics, help us to break down and assimilate nutrients from the food we eat. Before modern times, we all got plenty of probiotics in our diet as we ate fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi regularly. We also didn’t use herbicides and pesticides all over our food, or chlorine in our water killing all the good bacteria!
If you get bloated after a meal or suffer from any other digestive troubles, try consuming a daily probiotic to help top up your good bacteria.
#3 – You’re not producing enough stomach acid
Low stomach acid is a problem that affects people of all ages and walks of life. When our body fails to produce enough of its natural digestive juices to break down our meal, food particles pass partially undigested through the stomach and into the colon, which causes cramps, bloating and even constipation.
If you suspect you have low stomach acid, try taking a shot of apple cider vinegar before your meals. This helps to increase hydrochloric acid secretion and thus assists in the breakdown of food. Do this before every meal for a week and see if you notice the difference.
#4 – You’re not drinking enough
Water is the transporter for the digestive system. We need it to lubricate the waste matter as it moves through the colon. When we’re dehydrated, waste material can get ‘backed up’ which leads to bloating and constipation!
Aim to drink more fluids each day.
#5 – You’re drinking too much with meals
Drinking with our meals dilutes our natural digestive juices, which makes it harder for us to break down food properly.
Instead of drinking with your food, aim to leave a 30 minute gap before mealtimes and a 2 hour gap after mealtimes. If you can’t bear the thought of your meal without a drink, have a small glass of pineapple juice. It contains the enzyme bromelain, which helps in the assimilation of protein.
#6 – You’re eating too much protein
Protein is the hardest to digest macronutrient. It’s the reason why many people complain of feeling bloated or lethargic after a protein rich meal. We know it’s tempting to pile protein onto our plate, especially if you’re trying to build muscle, but eating too much at a time can cause serious digestive problems!
Our body can only assimilate a maximum of 30 grams of protein at each meal, so any more just puts extra strain on your gut. Instead of eating large high protein meals, spread your protein intake into 4 – 5 smaller meals throughout the day to make it easier for your digestive system to break it all down.
#7 – You’re stressing too much
When our body faces a stressful situation, it produces a hormone called cortisol. This hormone severely interferes with our digestion, as it encourages blood flow away from the stomach and into the brain. The lack of blood flow to the stomach weakens our digestive power, making it harder to break down food. Stress is bad at any time of day, but is particularly problematic at meal times!