Ugh… Misery… Bloating is a term used when the abdomen becomes visibly extended, and may be accompanied by cramps, gas and a physical feeling of fullness in the belly area of the body ... and is generally the result of not being able to properly digest foods. The not-so-digested foods feel like they're just sitting around causing discomfort and a general feeling of being stuffed.
Although “gassy” is the term most guys prefer to use when describing its symptoms, bloating can happen at any age, really - but if it seems to occur more frequently as you’ve gotten older, it can very well be because of your stomach's reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion.
Normally, when we eat, cells in our stomach increase acid production. It’s the catalyst for so many important digestive processes involving the break down foods and activation of enzymes. However, as we age this process can become sluggish and the result can feel like a backed-up sceptic tank building with pressure.
Unfortunately, this can have wide-ranging effects on all of our digestion abilities “downstream” and that inevitably results in that gassy uncomfortable feeling called “bloating.”
Belly Bloating Reason #1:
Sometimes our bodies are sensitive (and can become more-so as we age) to the fiber in certain fruits or veggies. This can also occur when we introduce new produce, or an abrupt increase in produce consumption into our diet - as it may take a while for our body to adjust.
Tummy Tip: Try chewing your vegetables more thoroughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones. If a fruit or veggie seems to be consistently related to bloating, try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.
Belly Bloating Reason #2:
Decreased stomach acid, particularly as we pass our 50-year mark, can result in the reduced activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme called “pepsin”. What this means is that the proteins you eat aren't broken down as well as they were when you were younger. As a result, they can pass through your system somewhat “undigested” – and if you’re mainly eating a processed meat product; you’re just asking for trouble.
Tummy Tip: You may consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat or cycling the sources from grass-fed beef, to poultry, and fish; then repeat. Monitor your symptoms and see if they improve.
Belly Bloating Reason #3:
One serious cause of big belly bloating is when your digestive system just slows down. That’s when things seem to be a bit stagnant, just hanging around in there a bit (or, a lot?) longer than you'd like. Sometimes this “system slow-down” is caused by certain medications (or their side-effects), dehydration, or the result of just not moving your body enough.
In these cases, some people have found the use of ginger to help with digestion and reduce nausea. Peppermint is another herbal remedy thought to help our digestive muscles continue pushing food through, so it doesn't stay like a lump of clay in one spot for too long (I know; not a pretty image, but at least you get the point).
Tummy Tip: Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger. Click Here for The Best Homemade Ginger Tea Ever.
Belly Bloating Reason #4:
The less efficient your stomach and small intestine are at digesting what you eat, the greater the stress placed on the large intestine to complete the job. The large intestine is the home of all of your monstrously wonderful gut microbes that -according to recent research- have SO many functions in maintaining our health.
However, is when undigested food enters the large intestine it can create an imbalance of good-gut vs bad-gut bacterium by ‘feeding’ the not-so-great microbes. Just these “unfriendly” bacteria themselves will produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism. The more of these microbes you have in your system (and, yes - they will multiply if constantly fed improperly digested foods) the more (and more) gas that will be produced in the large intestine.
Tummy Tip: Try eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system to keep the bad guys at bay. You could include things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as you aren’t sensitive to these foods). Just make sure they contain live ‘active’ cultures. If you cannot tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir dairy free options are available or you could choose any number of pill-form probiotic supplements. First, check the label to make sure it's right for you.
Belly Bloating Reason #5:
With reduced stomach acid you also have a reduction in the “activation” of several 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.
Tummy Tip: You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to temporarily assist your body in digesting food while you work on reestablishing your own production of stomach acid (via healthy diet and lifestyle!). But before you do so; make certain that the supplement(s) you choose do not interact negatively with other conditions you may have, or other supplements and medications you may be taking. In these cases, your condition might worsen, and/or may not be suitably safe for long-term use.
So, to wrap things up - here’s my final advice: listen to your gut…
You can try the “Tummy Tips” I've provided you with in this post, or maybe you'd prefer working with a nutritionist or dietician to get to the bottom (no pun intended) of which foods may be causing you the most distress.
And, a I’ve said before, I am no physician! If bloating, or other gastrointestinal problems have plagued you for a while, or your episodes are severe enough to interrupt your daily routine, this could be an indicator of a more serious problem like a bowel obstruction, which can be caused by scar tissue or a tumor. When these grow and press against the bowel, the bowels can become blocked and hold in fluid and stool.
In these cases, my ‘Tips’ are useless - you should go see your doctor or alternative health care practitioner for a more accurate diagnosis, instead.
In the meantime; keep (all things) moving toward a better you.
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