Why am I bloated?
Kinesiologist, Clinical Nutritionist, Herbal Medicine practitioner and member of the heal’r team, takes us through some of the causes of bloating, and what you can do about it
‘Bloating’ is a general term that is a growing health concern. There can be identifiable causes, but there can also be conflicting information that can lead to confusion. There are many reasons why someone might bloat, and even some people who may appear ‘healthy’ or slim on the exterior can have bloating issues. The term appearing in the health industry for this is ‘skinny fat’.
Being skinny does not mean someone is healthy, and bloating can indicate there is a problem. I have many clients who come to me who either look slim or may appear well, but they bloat constantly. Others find that no matter what they do through exercise or diet, they cannot change their weight or reduce the bloating. I had one client who thought they were “a fat person who ran”. It was not until we fixed his digestion that he realised that he was bloated due to inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself or healing. With this particular client, by addressing and strengthening his organ health, we reduced the bloating/inflammation that was around his entire body.
Bloating around the belly is frequently linked to digestive disorders. However, organ distension (bloating) in this area can also be from a weakened abdominal wall from pregnancy; scar tissue from surgery; overeating or eating foods we are intolerant to; unresolved digestive issues such as Crohn’s disease; parasites and bacterial infections; and very commonly stress management (or lack of it).
In a nutrition seminar I presented, I discussed with the participants the idea of our nervous system playing a role in our digestive system. When we have been facing long-term stress, our body switches into a fight or flight mode, meaning our sympathetic nervous system is dominant, switching off our parasympathetic nervous system. Our parasympathetic nervous system assists with our ability to rest and digest. Over the many years I have spent undertaking courses and through personal experience, I have come to realise that it is not only about what we eat, but also how we are able to digest it. Our ability to break down food is determined by the state of our organs and our nervous system, as they play key roles in this process. With the nervous system out of equilibrium and organs such as our liver, stomach and intestines dysfunctional, our digestive capability reduces.
This can lead to:
- Food intolerances
- Skin conditions
- Weight problems
- Slow progress of recovering from physical injuries
- Hormonal imbalances.
The list goes on.
There is ongoing research that shows how gut permeability (leaky gut), gut disorders such as IBS and Crohn’s disease and unresolved bacteria and parasite problems can affect our concentration and mood. It is becoming more familiar to hear how ‘the gut is our second brain’. I have definitely seen people’s moods change by changing their gut health.
The common things I have seen in my clinic are due to several factors. There is no one-size-fits-all answer – no one diet fits everyone. Just cutting out gluten or dairy will not kill the possible bacteria or parasites. Eating raw food or Paleo does not mean your nervous system and adrenals will repair. A liver detox generally needs more than a tea, superfood or juice. Excessive consumption of antibiotics can be ineffective as viruses and bugs can become resistant, so continual use can be more harmful than beneficial. Years of emotional or physical stress need more than one mindfulness session or Pilates class.
Signs and symptoms to look out for are: how are you managing and perceiving stress? Have you had gastro, food poisoning or a tummy bug? Have you had scar tissue worked on after any surgery or after soft tissue damage? How is your elimination and stool health? Have you got skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema and pimples? Again, the list goes on. Therefore, if you have ongoing symptoms, it would be in your best interest to have ongoing consultations with a practitioner. It is best not to manage it on your own, as your whole body is a network. One system corresponds to another and, if not managed correctly, you can cause more damage in the long term. To assist with reducing and ending bloating, ‘clean eating’ is beneficial, correct detoxification is essential and addressing belief patterns and stress management crucial for optimum health.