If the only thing more epic than Lady Gaga’s half-time show is your expanding waist line, you aren’t alone.
Many people feel bloated on occasion. (Some more frequent than others.) In fact 74% of Americans report living with digestive discomfort. From birthing temporary “food babies” to experiencing uncomfortable gas, abdominal pain and diarrhea, digestive distress is a telling sign that you should listen to your body.
First it’s important to understand why you are bloating or experience pain.
1. SIBO. “Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth” can often be responsible for big time bloating. This is when we have too many bacteria in the wrong place. When we eat certain foods, this overgrowth of bacteria produces methane gas and fails to the produce serotonin you should be producing during digestion. Instead the body makes two other chemical (kyneurenic and quinolinic acid) that leave us bloated, constipated, depressed, fatigued and full of brain fog.
2. IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common disorder that may seem as if your bowels have overacted during the digestive process. It can cause pain, diarrhea, or constipation. Symptoms variy from person and the cause is unknown. It is considered a chronic condition but can be managed through diet and lifestyle changes.
3. Reaction to food sensitivities. Although bloating and discomfort can be caused by underlying medical conditions, many times these symptoms are caused by eating foods or ingredients you are intolerant to.
4. Other underlying medical conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) are serious conditions that take on symptoms of digestive distress. It’s important to take digestive distress seriously and work with a doctor to rule out any of these conditions.
Ways to Ditch Digestive Discomfort
1. Test for Food Sensitivities. Food allergies and intolerances are common causes of bloating and digestive woe. At Aligned Modern Health, we offer food sensitivity testing and step-by-step coaching through elimination diets. A Functional Medicine doctor can help facilitate your test or help you establish an elimination diet that is the best approach for your needs.
2. Change your diet. After you test for food sensitivities, your diet should be customized to exclusively work for you and your unique digestive chemistry. While we may start by thinking about what food we need to avoid, working with a professional in functional medicine will also help you approach what food and supplements you need to include. Nutrient depletion is also a culprit in digestive disorders.
3. Do not dine and dash. Slow down. Eating too fast will cause you to swallow a lot of gas-producing air. Slowing down to chew your food may also help prevent overeating and the tummy trouble that follows.
4. Watch your alcohol intake. We live in Chicago. (So, who are we kidding!?) All things in moderation, right? Depending on your health goals, you may decide to avoid alcohol all together. But if you do indulge, remember that excessive boozing = body bloating. Water retention is a sign that your body is lacking electrolytes and that you may be vulnerable to liver damage. With nutrition and hydration, you can replace electrolytes. The liver can work to repair itself but excessive alcohol consumption overtime can lead to permanent scaring and damage of the liver. If water retention is severe or unusual, it’s best to promptly seek advice from a professional health care advisor.
5. Hydrate (but don’t drink too much fluid). As you drink water, your body will release fluids and can reduce bloating. However, too much water at once can be an overload your system and put your blood and sodium levels out of balance.
6. Do not eat your worries. Stop eating under stress. The stress response, by design, can impair digestion. One of our favorite tips is to simply focus only on our food, instead of bringing anxiety, worry, or other thoughts to the table. Allow your conversation or thoughts to be exclusively about food. Think about where it came from. Who made it? How did it grow? How did it get to your table?
If you have questions about your digestive response or food sensitivity testing, don’t be shy. Digestive distress is more common and manageable than you think. For a free consultation, contact our Functional Medicine team by visiting us online here, or calling 773.598.4387.