Here's 10 Top Reasons Why You're Probably Bloated
Hi My Girls!
My name is Saphira Tuffery, also known as @peanut.head.
Since opening up about my own digestive issues and sharing what I have been doing to get my gut health back on track, I am amazed at the outpour from all of you who have or are currently going through the same thing. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t have all the answers (our bodies are so complex!) but what I do have is my own experiences. Trial, error and a ton of research within the world of gut health. I aim to be a source of hope; a guide that allows you to dig deeper into your symptoms and figure out once and for all what causes your bloat.
The following ten points are what I’ve found to be the leading contributors to the almighty bloat. I have good news: they’re all things that can be identified and pretty easily managed, and will likely give you some speedy results.
1. Too many raw/icy foods
Have you jumped on that trend of putting frozen cauliflower and zucchini in your smoothies? Or the one where you try to manage your weight by eating a raw vegetable salad for lunch and dinner? One of the biggest culprits of bloating is eating raw, hard to digest vegetables; it simply puts too much stress on the digestive system. On top of this, foods like kale, broccoli & cabbage are rich in an indigestible sugar called raffinose (also found in beans). Methane-producing bacteria in the colon feed on raffinose and release gas in the process, which leads to bloating.
- Gently cook your food to allow for easier digestion, especially leafy greens, cruciferous and root vegetables.
- Take a supplement called Beano when eating a meal heavy in gas producing vegetables. Beano is a plant-derived enzyme that breaks down raffinose before it enters the colon.
- Another great supplement is Coconut Charcoal by Bulletproof; this helps reduce and eliminate gas in the digestive tract.
- If you’re experiencing gas or bloating, trying chewing and swallowing 1/2 tsp fennel seeds after your meal; it will help remove gas from your system,
- When making a smoothie, steam your vegetables before freezing them, or simply reduce the amount of frozen vegetables altogether.
Parasites aren’t talked about enough. They may not be the sexiest topic on earth, but they’re a more common problem than most of us realize. This isn’t an exotic pest--a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds these buggers are very much alive in the U.S and millions of Americans develop parasitic infections with symptoms that often go unnoticed or are misdiagnosed. These microscopic creatures are typically picked up through poorly washed fruit and vegetables, raw meat and fish, contaminated water, soil and even our pets.
- bloating after meals
- abdominal pain
- skin issues like rosacea, eczema, and rashes
- constant hunger
- unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- aching joints and muscles
- A parasite can easily be detected through a stool sample from your local GP, and treated with anti-parasitic herbs or antibiotics.
- Depending on the particular type of bug, you may need to go on a specific diet in order to starve it out. This will generally be foods that turn to sugar once digested; alcohol, sugar (duh), grains and starchy vegetables.
Be sure to consult your GP for more specific guidelines, depending on your individual test results.
3. Dysbiosis in the gut
Dysbiosis results from an overgrowth of harmful species in our gut, and an under-representation of “good bacteria”. When this occurs, bloating is a predominant symptom, but is really just the tip of the iceberg. If gone untreated, dysbiosis can lead to autoimmune disease, cancer, asthma and obesity.
There are many factors that can contribute to an overgrowth of the ‘bad guys’ and the extinction of our ‘good guys’. These include:
- The use of antibiotics – Good bacteria make life uncomfortable for harmful bacteria by competing for food and controlling levels of oxygen and acidity in the gut. Taking antibiotics (especially frequently) is like dropping an atom bomb in your gut. It wipes out the entire population, both good and bad, which leaves you vulnerable to bad bacteria taking over.
- Eating non-organic food – Whenever you eat non-organic, you run the risk of consuming chemical residues. From fresh fruit and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides to meat that has had a diet of GMO-filled grains & hormone injections, it’s never fully safe. All of this is detrimental to our gut bacteria. While research around glyphosate (the main ingredient in Round Up; a popular pesticide) is still limited, so far there have been studies that show its ability to change the balance of the microbiome in a really negative way. When exposure is ongoing, the toxic effect and change to the gut manifests over time. This potentially creates long-term changes to the makeup of our microbiome, including inhibition of the growth of any beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- A diet poor in fiber – Ever heard of prebiotics? Not only does prebiotic fiber strengthen and significantly increase the good bacteria, it helps suppress the bad bacteria. Prebiotics are carbohydrates that act as food for beneficial bacteria in the gut. These carbs travel undigested to the colon, where they ferment and produce small-chain fatty acids that feed the gut flora. Not all plant foods function in this way, but those containing specific types of soluble fiber do. Something to be mindful of when upping your fiber intake – ease it in. Taking too much too soon may cause gas and bloating. Increase your fiber intake at a slow and steady pace allowing your system to adjust. Prebiotic foods include: onions, garlic, leeks, soybeans, chicory root, honey, banana, Jerusalem artichoke. Silver Fern also has a great prebiotic fiber supplement you can easily add to your morning smoothie.
- Consuming too many processed foods – Microwave dinners loaded with pasta, sugar, and conventional dairy, candy bars from the office vending machine, popcorn from the movie theater; the works. These foods aren’t just adding inches, they’re also harming your microbiome. Ever had cravings so bad you felt possessed? Like there was something inside of you starving for some sugar, almost beyond your control? That’s the bad bacteria in your stomach crying out for some food. These pathogens feed and thrive on this food, so the more processed crap you eat, the more likely they are to take over your gut environment.
- Invest in a high-quality probiotic supplement to introduce more beneficial bacteria to your microbiome. This is especially important after a round of antibiotics. Silver Fern has a great one with a 100% survivability rate.
- Cut back on the junk food. Processed foods don’t serve our health in any way! Opt for a whole foods diet, and when you want a treat, try brands that use good quality ingredients.
- Eat Organic and Non-GMO labeled foods as often as possible. Eat local where possible, shop for produce at the Farmer’s Market, and ask about their growing practices. Most farmers use organic growing practices but just aren’t certified. If money is an issue, follow the below guide from EWG: they’ve listed the foods that are considered to have the most and least pesticide residues.
4. Eating something you’re intolerant of
Ever wonder why your boyfriend can eat all the dairy-heavy pizza in the world, yet you have one bite and your stomach blows up like a balloon? We’re all built differently (our microbiomes especially) so what one stomach can handle will cause another to freak the F out. Whether it’s gluten, eggs, bell peppers, or a whole food group like nightshades or FODMAPS, you could be eating something that your stomach can’t efficiently digest.
- Take a food intolerance test to pinpoint exactly which foods aren’t agreeing with you – Balanced Health Bio Resonance (use code peanuthead for a discount!) & My Viome are both great at home options.
- Try an elimination diet and reintroduce foods at a slow pace to identify triggers
- Go on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP). This eliminates foods that may cause inflammation in the gut and replaces them with nutrient-rich foods. People who do the AIP diet should follow it strictly for a few weeks and then slowly reintroduce foods that they have avoided, measuring potential reactions. If there is a reaction, it long-term exclusion is suggested.
5. Consumption of sugar alcohols
We live in a day and age where there's a sugar-free option for everything. Hint: nothing can taste sweet and be sugar-free; you best be checking the ingredient list for sugar alcohols. Although they’re not absorbed by the liver and have no effect on the blood sugar, they still need to be digested. That’s where you run into trouble. Sugar alcohols are known to ferment in the gut, causing huge upsets like foul smelling gas and major bloating. Some common sugar alcohols to look out for are erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol.
- Look for the few sugar-free options that don’t contain sugar alcohols; stevia, allulose and pure monk fruit (be sure to still read ingredients lists; brands like Lakanto still add Erythritol to their Monk fruit products)
- If you’re baking at home, try adding banana, dates or apple sauce as a natural sweetener, or use healthier white sugar alternatives like coconut sugar or honey.
6. Eating on the run
There are many reasons why you shouldn’t eat on the go. You’re more likely to eat too fast and not chew properly, making it difficult for your stomach to break down everything you just wolfed. We’re all familiar with the scenarios. You’re late for work, forced to grab a bowl of oatmeal as you race out the door. You try to eat that in the car while doing your makeup in the rearview mirror, all while weaving through traffic (we do not condone this behavior, but we get it). This is a perfect formula for a stressed state. Your body sits in two natural states – ‘rest and digest’ or ‘fight or flight.’ You can’t be in both at once, and the high alert mode does not lend itself to easy digestion. Here comes the bloat!
- Habitually factor in at least 20 minutes to eat each meal.
- Slow it down; chew your food at least 15 times before swallowing.
- Try not to be distracted by multitasking, or watching tv during meal times.
- Take 2 deep breaths before you sit down to your meal to achieve a more relaxed state of mind.
7. Combining the wrong foods
Cheers to all those nights you got so uncomfortably gassy after indulging in a fruit & cheese board with your girlfriends. Let me take you through the process following that food combo. Sugar digests faster than protein, and when you eat them together, fermentation happens, which leads to gas and bloat. The same thing can happen when you eat dessert too quickly after a protein-rich meal.
Classic examples of bloat-inducing food combos:
- Chicken salad with strawberries
- Bacon-wrapped dates
- Fig jam with grapes and cheese on crackers
- Turkey with sugar-rich cranberry sauce
- Thanksgiving Dinner
- And one of the biggest culprits: sugar-laden sauces & dressings that you pour on your food. Daily.
- Avoid sugary foods when consuming a protein-heavy meal (try to wait 1-2 hours to consume fruit or sugar)
- Make your own salad dressing (olive oil with lemon juice and wholegrain mustard is an easy swap)
8. Leaky gut
Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability,” is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and flood the bloodstream. Your body recognizes these as “foreign” and goes into an inflammatory response to fight off these ‘invaders’. You’re left with a slew of undesirable symptoms.
Before I go into ways you can identify if you have a leaky gut, it’s important to know the two main ways you can develop a leaky gut.
- Medications. Taking antibiotics, aspirin, and steroids can irritate the gut lining, and over time, cause damage to the intestinal walls.
- Consuming excessive inflammatory foods such as soy, corn, conventional dairy, gluten, caffeine and refined sugar.
Signs you may have a leaky gut:
- Excessive gas, bloat, diarrhea, constipation
- Sugar and carb cravings
- Joint pain/stiffness
- Brain Fog
- Skin problems such as acne, rosacea and eczema
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn’s
- Take a food intolerance test
- Remove foods from your diet that are considered inflammatory
- Slow down on the aspirin
- Supplement with Collagen, L-Glutamine, Probiotics and Bone Broth to help build up and heal the gut lining
9. Sluggish liver
Bile, a digestive juice produced by the liver, helps the body absorb fat into the bloodstream. This thick, yellow-green substance is stored in the gallbladder, until the body needs some to digest fats. But when the liver is overburdened or sluggish, the flow of bile can become slow or stagnant. This shifts the gut towards a state of dysbiosis, at which point constipation and bloating may occur.
These are common symptoms of a sluggish liver:
- Fluctuation in blood sugar levels
- Hormonal imbalances including PMS
- Digestive issues (bloating, gas constipation, inability to digest fatty foods)
- Skin related issues like rosacea, eczema, rashes, acne and psoriasis
- Intolerance to alcohol
- Low energy levels
- Intolerance to coffee
- Excessive sweating
- Swollen feet or abdomen
- Easy bruising
- Yellowing of the eyes
- Dark urine and stool
- Bad breath
- Sensitivity to chemicals in paints, petrol, bleaches, etc.
- Body odor.
Don’t worry! The liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself, provided you give it the right support.
Remedies (consult your doctor for more!):
- Reduce fat and protein intake, especially for the first half of the day.
- Drink at least 8oz celery juice on an empty stomach each morning
- Increase intake of liver-supporting foods like apples, beets, grapefruit, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, cruciferous vegetables (especially Brussel sprouts & broccoli) and garlic
- Supplement with liver-supporting herbs. Dandelion root, milk thistle, Angelica root and artichoke leaf are also great either in a tea or tincture.
- Buy the Medical Medium book “Liver Rescue” to learn more.
10. Yang deficiency
This last point is a reference to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). In Chinese Medicine Philosophy, our body’s energy (Qi) contains a delicate balance of both Yin (Cold) and Yang (Heat). The same philosophy applies to the food and drink we consume; they either have Yin, Yang or Neutral energy.
When we consume too much Yin and not enough Yang, we end up with a cold internal environment. If we think about the stomach as a campfire that cooks our food, constantly adding Yin-producing foods, the fire will have a seriously hard time staying lit (which means, difficult digestion). This is especially important in the morning. The fire naturally goes out overnight, it is your responsibility in the morning to get the fire blazing again. Reconsider downing that large glass of ice water as soon as you wake up, and maybe hold off on the frozen breakfast smoothie.
Examples of Yin-Producing Foods:
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Bean sprouts
- Dandelion greens
- Swiss chard
- Soy Products
Raw & Cold foods also tend to be Yin producing.
Yang is the creative, transformative energy that keeps your mental and bodily functions going. When yang is not strong enough to warm and activate the body, people experience symptoms of:
- feeling constantly chilled
- lower back pain or soreness
- low energy
- poor circulation
- poor digestion or loose stool (especially in the morning)
- pallor and pasty complexion
- urinary disorders
- edema (accumulation of fluids in the body such as the lower legs)
- low libido
Remedies (activate and replenish your yang energy):
- Get out in the sun for some Vitamin D.
- See a TCM practitioner who can properly diagnose you and treat you with herbs and acupuncture.
- Avoid cold, icy food and drinks. Always opt for room temp water, and eat more cooked foods.
- Eat more Yang-producing foods from the following list:
- Animal: anchovy, mussel, lobster, trout, chicken, beef, lamb
- Fruit: cherry, citrus peel, date, litchi, longan, peach, raspberry, strawberry
- Grains & seeds: oats, spelt, sweet brown rice (and its products, i.e. moshi), quinoa, sunflower seed, sesame seed, walnut, pine nut, chestnut, pistachio
- Herbs & spices: basil, fennel, dill, anise, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, sage, thyme, black and white pepper, horseradish, garlic, clove, nutmeg, fenugreek seed, peppermint.
- Veggies: parsnip, parsley, mustard greens, winter squash, cabbage, kale, onion, leek, chive, garlic, scallion, radish, sweet potato, cooked beans with ginger (e.g. black beans, lentils, aduki beans), hot peppers are warming only in small pitches, otherwise they have a strong cooling effect. This is also true of concentrated sweeteners.
- Beverages: chai tea, ginger tea, jasmine tea
I sincerely hope this helps. Please feel free to add your thoughts and experiences to the comment section-- you guys are not alone, and you’ve never been alone! We’re in this together.
Xx My Girl