Things generally start off well first thing in the morning. Then after lunch, the pants get a bit tighter. Maybe head to the washroom to deflate a few times. Then pasta for dinner? May as well put the stretchy pants on now.
We Naturopathic Doctors love to talk about your digestive health. It says a lot about the state of your overall health and can give us clues as to what's going on. If you're not digesting properly, how are you getting all of your nutrients? Is it fats, proteins, or carbohydrates that are most bothersome? Are you bloated and gassy all the time? If you answered yes to that last one, read on.
There are a few causes of excessive gas. Your friendly neighbourhood Naturopathic Doctor can help you determine what is likely going on.
1. It can be due to a sluggish digestive system overall leaving your food not as broken-down as it should be. When these food bits get down to your colon, your gut bacteria will certainly take your leftovers and output a lot of methane. If you have heartburn or your food feels like it just sits in your stomach like a rock, it's likely your stomach acid is low. The secretion of stomach acid (HCl) is one of the first steps in the digestive cascade. It signals down to the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and intestines to get the juices flowin'. Try: 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar diluted with 1-2 tbsp of water about 5 minutes before meals. Make sure you give your mouth a quick rinse after. This can help get the digestive cascade flowing.
2. If your bloating and gas come with an IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) diagnosis, you may have bacteria in your small intestine, or SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). These bacteria get at your food bits before you have time to break it all down. This treatment requires more of an intensive approach where herbs are used to kill off the bacteria in the small intestine, certain food sugars are avoided, and the colonic bacteria are reset with a healthy diet and specific probiotic supplement. To keep your gut bacteria healthy, fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi are great options.
3. You may have an inflammatory response to some food your body just doesn't like. Cutting out foods that you immediately notice give you bloating or gas is the easy and obvious way to go. If you're not able to pinpoint what the problem food is, track your diet as well as your symptoms. Getting some advice on an Elimination Diet (cutting out the most common problematic foods) can also help. This involves slowly reintroducing foods and seeing how your gut responds. If you have symptoms outside of the digestive tract as well, such as eczema, migraines, thyroid issues, chronic joint pain, or fatigue/brain fog/slugginess, consider having an IgG Food Sensitivity test done as these may be linked.
4. Some foods just cause gas. Beans, for example, are high in a couple of sugars called raffinose and stachyose which we humans can't entirely digest. But guess who can? Bacteria! Unfortunately, there's not much we can do about helping your body digest these guys. Certain digestive enzyme supplements are able to break these apart, which is important for vegetarians and vegans, or anyone who just refuses to live without bean burritos... like me.
Get your gut out of the rut. People in your immediate vicinity may thank you.