Why Do I Always Feel Bloated Blog Image

Help! Why Do I Always Feel Bloated? Could it be SIBO?

There are days when your jeans just won’t zip up. Days when your stomach inflates a little after lunch. And, days when your tummy feels full, even when you’ve not eaten. For us ladies, bloating can be related to your period.  

But, if you’re always feeling bloated it could be a sign of gastrointestinal disorders.

Before we get into some of the root causes, let’s look at…

What is bloating?

When the abdomen feels full and tight, this is referred to as abdominal bloating. It results from a buildup of gas anywhere in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Gas is a natural part of digestion as foods get broken down in the intestines. However, when it causes bloating, abdominal discomfort, excessive gas (burping/flatulence) or a persistent rumbling stomach, it can be a sign of some type of digestive issue.

Is it normal to always feel bloated?

It is common to feel bloated and gassy after eating a large meal. Eating quickly can also bring on bloatedness as it causes more air to enter your stomach. 

However, if you are experiencing discomfort with practically everything you eat and you’re struggling to pinpoint any triggers, it’s time to look deeper for root causes.

Clock - SIBO blog

How long does a bloated stomach last?

If your bloating is caused by something you ate or drank, it should subside within a few hours. If however, you’re feeling constipated, it’s unlikely to pass until you have been to the toilet.

What are the causes of bloating?

There are a number of different reasons you could be feeling bloated, here are a few of the most common…

1. PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

Feeling bloated before your period can be a sign of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This is associated with an excess of oestrogen, which can arise for a number of reasons, including the consumption of dairy or an imbalance in your gut bacteria (your gut microbiome).  

2. Eating too quickly

If you eat quickly, on the run, or are distracted during your meal, you can swallow too much air. This additional air remains in your stomach until you expel it through burping or flatulence. Fizzy drinks and chewing gum might also cause you to swallow too much air. Eating too quickly can also result in over-eating, which is another common cause of bloating. 

Biscuits - SIBO Blog

Researchers at Bristol University discovered that playing computer games at lunch made participants less mindful of what they were eating, and they subsequently ate more biscuits than the control group. Make an effort to sit down undistracted (no scrolling on your iPhone, watching TV or working guys!) for each meal and chew slowly and thoroughly with your mouth closed.  Your stomach doesn’t have teeth!  

Digestion already starts to take place in the mouth when you bite down and if you chew your food until it is liquid (30-60 times per mouthful!) this will give those digestive enzymes that are released from that action of biting down more surface area to act on the food you are consuming and break it down. 

3. Food sensitivities and intolerances

Some people have a tough time digesting particular foods, such as gluten, dairy, or raw vegetables. If dairy is an issue, this could be down to lactose intolerance, candida or SIBO.  

Lactose Intolerance - SIBO Blog

Lactose intolerance is when you don’t have the enzymes to break down the milk sugar lactose.  Did you know that we are the only animal that consumes milk after we wean?  And the only animal that consumes milk from another animal.  We are designed to break down human breast milk.  Dairy is designed to make small animals grow into larger ones in a pretty short space of time and contains oestrogen and something called Insulin Growth Factor-1, which as you can tell from the name is a growth hormone. 

Bloating from gluten can be a sign of coeliac or gluten intolerance, also known as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.  

Bloating caused by eating raw vegetables can be a sign that you do not have enough digestive enzymes to break down the tough cell walls of those plants and digest them properly, so steaming or having one-pot meals or blended soups can help with this.  

If you find that you struggle to digest red meat or it sits heavily in your stomach, that could be a sign of hypochlorhydria, a state of low stomach acid.

Bloating after fatty foods could be a sign that you aren’t producing enough bile.  Bile is the substance your body produces to break down fat.  Increasing your intake of good quality fibre from vegetables and wholegrains can help with bile production.  

A great way to identify the cause is to eliminate typical offenders such as added sugars, gluten, and dairy to see whether food sensitivities are the true issue. A nutritionist can help you through the process of identifying and eliminating problem foods whilst making sure you still get the nutrients your body needs.

Sugar - SIBO Blog

If you’re still having problems after eliminating those frequent sources of inflammation, it could be FODMAPs – these are carbohydrates that ferment when you eat them – if you are reacting to these types of foods, this could be a sign of SIBO, which can be identified from breath testing. 

4. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

According to statistics, 1 in every 10 people in the UK suffers from IBS. The actual number is thought to be a lot higher due to people not seeking medical attention for their symptoms or misdiagnosis. 

Shocking though, one of the main causes of IBS is actually something most people have never even heard of – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

SIBO occurs when bacteria overgrow into the small intestine. Certain bacteria are expected to be abundant in our large intestine, but they are not supposed to be abundant in our small intestine.

SIBO indicates that bacteria have either overgrown from the large intestine into the small intestine or, in certain cases, bacteria have translocated from the oral cavity to the small intestine. Bloating, burping, wind, nausea, stomach discomfort, diarrhoea, constipation, or loose, pale, and foul-smelling faeces are all possible symptoms.

Lab Test - SIBO Blog

To identify the problem a SIBO practitioner such as myself can carry out a lab test (3-hour fructose, lactulose and possibly a glucose breath test).

If the results show you are suffering from SIBO – it’s not as scary as it might sound! ​​I suggest my clients take herbal antimicrobials to kill off the excess bacteria, of a particular type and dosage.  I tend to work gently with these as I have seen clients take herbs like oregano oil or berberine long-term which can cause collateral damage to your “friendly” gut bacteria. 

I also recommend a two-phase diet, which has nearly removed symptoms for some people in just a few weeks. This diet, however, is not intended to be a long-term approach. We need to look at the root problem rather than merely treating the symptoms with food.

To learn more about SIBO and its symptoms, check out this post

What can you do to help relieve bloating?

Depending on what’s causing you to always feel bloated, it’s always worth seeking professional advice to identify any underlying gut issues

There are supplements that can help, but again you should seek advice before taking supplements as they may not always be appropriate and could even be dangerous, for example, if combined with certain medications or during pregnancy.  

A binder such as activated charcoal can bind to the gas and help see it out but this can also cause constipation so may not be suitable for those of you already experiencing constipation. Constipation means either going for a bowel movement less than daily or having an incomplete bowel evacuation.  

SIBO can result from a poorly functioning migrating motor complex and prokinetic supplements can aid in the function of the migrating motor complex, which governs waves of movement throughout the gut that help to see that everything passes through appropriately.  

Peppermint - SIBO Blog

Peppermint, chamomile, ginger, turmeric, and fennel can all assist with digestion and process gas. Dandelion tea can also aid with the relief of water retention. These can be found in certain herbal teas.

Peppermint oil Is a natural antispasmodic. That is, it aids in the relaxation of your gut muscles. This can assist you to pass blocked stool and gas, especially if you have a motility problem. However, peppermint oil can make symptoms worse if you suffer from reflux, as peppermint can relax the sphincter that stops acid from passing up from the stomach into the oesophagus. 

Probiotics can assist by rebalancing your gut bacteria. They work best when taken with a prebiotic.  However, many people with SIBO struggle to tolerate pro and prebiotics and some can find they make the bloating worse.  This all depends on the type and strain of pre and probiotics and a skilled practitioner can help you with recommendations.

Magnesium aids in the neutralisation of stomach acid and the relaxation of intestinal muscles. Magnesium citrate and oxide have a natural laxative effect, which can be beneficial from time to time but can become habit-forming if used excessively.

When to seek expert advice for feeling bloated?

Feeling uncomfortable because you’ve got a bloated stomach isn’t fun! And, whilst the occasional puffy tummy isn’t anything to worry about, if it’s a persistent issue that’s affecting your daily life then you might want to consider seeking assistance. 

If you need help with your diet or gut health, I offer a FREE 30-minute health and wellness consultation. We’ll talk about your health difficulties, I’ll offer you a few easy recommendations to get started, and I’ll explain how I work and the many programme options open to you. 

At the end of the FREE session, if we decide we’re a good fit, I’ll talk you through the next steps of getting your gut health back on track. Simply click this link to choose a time that works best for you.

Note – I am not a registered doctor and if you are worried about your health you should always speak to your GP first.

Posted in Blog, Conditions, Diet Types, FODMAP Friendly, Lifestyle, Microbiome.