Bloating as you age? 5 reasons why:
Bloating generally results from the inability to properly digest foods. These not-so-digested foods sit around and stagnate and cause overall discomfort and a general feeling of being stuffed and “gassy”.
It can happen at any age but it seems to be more frequent and prevalent as we age. This tends to happen as a result of the stomach’s reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion.
Normally, when we eat, cells in our stomach release more acid which is important for so many digestive processes such as breaking down foods and activating enzymes. As we age this process can become less efficient and this can wreak havoc on the rest of our digestive system and our bodies as a whole. Chronic bloating is the result. My clients often complain that they wake up in the morning with a flat belly but as the day goes on, their stomach becomes more and more uncomfortably distended. Having to unbutton their pants is a common occurrence.
Let’s take a look at why you may be bloated and how you can reduce bloating.
Why you bloat Reason #1: Certain fibres
Sometimes our bodies are (or become more as we age) sensitive to the fibre in certain fruits or vegetables. This can also occur when we introduce new ones into our diet as it may take a while for our body to get used to them.
Pro Tip: Try chewing your vegetables more thoroughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones. If a fruit or vegetable seems to be consistently related to bloating try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.
Why you bloat Reason #2: Reduced Pepsin
Decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme called “pepsin”. This means that the proteins you eat aren’t broken down as much and they should be and pass through your system somewhat “undigested”.
Pro Tip: You may consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and see if that helps you out.
Why you bloat Reason #3: Reduced transit time
One factor that can seriously cause bloating is the slowing down of your digestive system. When this happens, food tends to just stagnate and hang around longer than we’d like.
Ginger has been found to help with the stimulation and enhancement of the digestive process. It also helps to reduce nausea if it is present. Peppermint is another herb that has proven to be extremely effective in cases of IBS as it stimulates peristalisis – the process by which the muscles in your digestive tract pushes food through. This way it doesn’t stagnate in one spot for too long.
Pro Tip: Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger. See my recipe below.
Why you bloat Reason #4: Unfriendly bacteria
The lack of proper digestion taking place in the stomach and small intestine put additional strain on the colon, the large intestine. The colon is home to all of your wonderful gut microbiota that have SO many functions in the body. The problem results when undigested food particles enter the large intestine and then it begins to feed the “not-so-great microbes.” These “unfriendly” bacteria produce waste material and gas as a by-product of their natural metabolic process. The more harmful microbes you have in your system (they will multiply if they are constantly being fed undigested food in the large intestine), the more gas will be produced in the large intestine.
Pro Tip: Introduce more fermented foods into your daily diet. Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system to keep the bad guys at bay. This includes foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these don’t cause further bloating in your system- keep track!). Make sure they’re unpasteurized and contain live cultures. If you cannot tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir, dairy free options are available in stores (try almond or coconut yogurt and water or coconut kefir). Fermenting your own is excellent.
Sometimes it’s easier just to take a supplement. We love the Optibac one-week Flat!
Why you bloat Reason #5: Reduced enzymes
With reduced stomach acid comes the reduced “activation” of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them). In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food, they need to be activated. This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid.
Pro Tip: You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on re-establishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!). But before you do make sure you read the labels because some of them interact with other supplements, medications, or conditions, and may not be safe for long-term use.
Why not give the “pro tips” I’ve given you in this Post a try. You may even wish to work with a private Naturopath who will help you investigate your individual health circumstance and come up with a personalised health treatment plan for you.
Naturopathic medicine is all about getting to the bottom of the health issue in order to treat the root of the problem so that it doesn’t reoccur.
If bloating is a serious problem you should see definitely see your doctor or alternative health care practitioner. Feel free to contact me here for a free 15-minute discovery session to see if we are a good match for working together.
Recipe: Tummy Soothing Tea
- Fresh ginger root (about 2”)
- Hot water
- Lemon slices (optional)
- Honey (optional)
Pour the water into a saucepan and heat it on the stove.
Grate the ginger root into the saucepan. Let it come to a boil, and then simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Strain the tea into a cup with a fine mesh strainer and add lemon and/or honey as desired.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: If you don’t want to use a grater and strainer then you can peel the ginger and thinly slice it into your cup before adding boiling water. The pieces should be big enough that they will sink to the bottom.