Chronic bloating, wind, belching and abdominal discomfort are often early signs that all is not well with the digestive triad of absorption, assimilation and elimination.
Often the culprit is dysbiosis of the gut, which is a fancy way of saying that there is an imbalance in the gut flora. Constipation is known to be a major factor in gas production. Recently densities of the well known beneficial bacterial species Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus were observed to be lower in patients with constipation, and concentrations of potentially pathogenic bacteria and yeasts such as candida albicans were higher. For some reason a predominance of bad bacteria or yeast organisms has occurred in the gut, and these often produce hydrogen or methane gas. These symptoms will be alleviated once this imbalance has been corrected.
Another common problem is maldigestion or malabsorption of carbohydrates. Unabsorbed carbohydrates in the colon act as food for bacteria, and this breakdown produces hydrogen gas and short chain fatty acids. At the low end of the scale this can produce wind, and at the high end, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Lactose intolerance is a potential culprit, as is celiac disease. For Lactose intolerance, an enzyme supplement such as Lactase Plus will deal with the issue. If one is celiac, then a gluten exclusion diet is advised.
Only 60% of fructose, the sugar found in fruit and soft drinks, is absorbed in the gut, and as little as 37.5g can cause bloating symptoms in individuals. Sorbitol, an artificial sweetener in diet foods, is malabsorbed by over 40% of the population. Some subjects are susceptible to as little as 5g of sorbitol, whilst nearly all develop severe symptoms with 20g. Isomalt, xylitol and sucrose can cause problems to varying degrees. Oligosaccharides like FOS, which are often added to probiotics, may also make the situation worse.
Dietary fibre may also increase wind, with whole grains producing five times more hydrogen than refined flours.
Some of the common causes of bloating and wind are:
Irritation of the GI tract
Digestive enzyme deficiencies
Intestinal bacteria imbalance
High sugar diet
Antacids and proton pump inhibitors
Constipation and slow gut transit
Medications that reduce gut motility
Abdominal distension and bloating are more often reported by women with IBS than men, with symptom increases noted in relation to menstruation.
Most studies show bloating to be more associated with constipation related IBS than with diarrhoea related IBS.
Here are some simple guides to what kind of disorders may cause your wind and bloating:
Wind and belching that occurs within half an hour of eating suggests a stomach acid deficiency or food allergy. Chewing gum may alleviate the situation. Patients with reflux or ulcers may belch to relieve symptoms.Try taking Betaine HCl with your food. If you suspect an allergy, take a food allergy test.
Wind that occurs within one to one and a half hours of eating suggests an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria in the small intestine, known as SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Take a good probiotic and a natural antibiotic like Lactoferrin Xtra.
Wind and bloating that occurs several hours after eating suggests pancreatic enzyme deficiency, food allergies or lactose/sugar intolerance. A broad spectrum Digestive enzyme like Supergest, and a specific enzyme like Lactase Plus could help.
Belching that occurs after fatty foods may signify gallbladder disorder. Try to cut down on fatty foods.
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