The vast majority of people suffer from some degree of bloating at some point in time whether it be severely or mildly depending on the cause. For a lot of people, it’s the end of the world and they take drastic measures in trying to resolve the issue and ensure it doesn’t happen again. For others, it’s merely water off a duck's back and approached casually in that it will pass. Whether you’re on one end of the spectrum or the other it’s good to know what may be causing your bloating issues and ensure that whichever resolution you implement it’s not extreme or not fitting.
More times than not the wrong reasons get the blame based on stigma, stereotypes and misinformation. These include - bread, gluten, carbs, whole grains, dairy, sugar, processed foods, diet drinks, coffee etc. As a result, instead of exploring other causes or looking into the portion size and intake of particular foods in one’s diet they’re instead just cut which leads to restrictive and yo-yo dieting and binging on the eliminated foods.
What might instead be the reason for your bloating…
Our Equalution client Janelle, down 9kgs and 36cm in body measurements. This was achieved through a science-based and flexible diet allowing her to enjoy her favourite foods daily including burgers, biscuits and ice cream, among her lean meats and vegetables
You’re not drinking enough water
When you don’t give your body enough water it retains it and can cause some uncomfortable bloating, stomach cramps and also stall your bowel movements resulting in constipation.
You’re eating too much fibre
Each person can react differently to different types of fibre. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble, each coming from different sources. Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like material which can lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels and is found in foods including oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and psyllium. Insoluble fibre is the type of fibre that doesn’t digest in water. It promotes movement in your digestive tract and is found in foods including whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.
A good balance of both in the recommended daily intake serving can reduce bloating symptoms caused by having too much fibre or too much from a single source. An example of bloating from too much fibre is excess consumption of protein bars which are high in soluble fibre and can put you over your recommended fibre intake and cause bloating.
You’re not having enough fibre
Fibre’s most prominent role is aiding digestion. Insoluble fibre is like a broom sweeping out your bowels, collecting waste so you can easily pass bowel movements on a regular basis. Soluble fibre ferments slightly in your gut. As it passes, the gel that forms slows digestion and allows nutrients to fully absorb. So when the fiber is lacking in your body, digestive processes suffer. You could have gas and bloating, as your system struggles to push out waste and may also become constipated, leaving you backed up and struggling to pass stools.
You’re eating too much
You quite simply could be eating too much which is causing some uncomfortable bloating. Whether it’s too much of ‘something’ i.e eating a particular food in excess, chewing gums, beverages, volume food or calories - your stomach is a basket which catches what you feed it and bloating can be a result of overspill.
You’re not eating enough
Lack of calories and appropriate macronutrients can also cause bloating and discomfort and ongoing metabolic issues which can affect gut health.
Due to the intrinsic mind-gut connection, it can be said that your mood, stress levels and state of wellbeing can affect your gut health and visa versa. Supported by the long-held belief and number of studies that the gut plays a major role in happiness, distress in either the central nervous system or enteric nervous system, they appear to adversely affect each other.
Some common medications can cause bloating, constipation and hardening of your stool.
You have a medical condition
Whether IBS or some type of deficiency or intolerance, you may have an underlying medical condition. See your GP if you think you fall into this category and take the relevant tests to get to the bottom of the issue.
Progesterone and estrogen hormones play a significant role in fluid retention. When estrogen levels are elevated, women tend to retain more water than usual. This is why bloating is common in the days leading up to a woman's menstrual cycle - more estrogen will generally mean greater water retention.
Are you actually bloated
Particularly females tend to be overly paranoid and conscious about bloating and overthink it to the point of being convinced they’re suffering from bloating symptoms. Assess whether for you it’s mind over matter to save taking a drastic measure unnecessarily.
Giving yourself the best chance of reducing bloating:
1. Drink water - 1L per 20kg is the rule of thumb!
2. Monitor your fibre and keep it consistent - Men under age 50 require at least 38 grams of fibre per day and men over age 50 require 30 grams of fibre. Women under age 50 require 25 grams of fibre per day and women over age 50 require 21 grams of fibre.
3. Consider increasing your fibre intake gradually. If you go from 0 to 50g in a day, it’s no surprise that your system isn’t managing. Increase your fibre intake about 5 grams per day until you’re at the required amount for your age group.
4. Find out what you burn calorically daily and ensure you’re not excessively eating beyond that. If you’re sensitive to bloating split your meals out over the day to reduce the likeliness of overeating in a sitting.
5. Ensure you’re getting a good balance of macronutrients. For protein recommendations refer to our article ‘Your Guide to Protein’, then aim to keep fats between 20-30% of your daily intake and carbs will make up the remainder.
6. Get checked out and rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Do you suffer from poor gut health and don’t know how to eat for your body and goals? The Equalution team can customise nutrition specifically for your body’s individual intake needs in light of your goals and meet these through balanced and diverse nutrition.