Diet Related Causes of Excessive Flatulence and Bloating
Uncomfortable, painful, bloated tummies and excessive gas affect a large percentage of western society and it can be very debilitating and downright socially embarrassing. Learn about the diet related causes of excessive flatulence and bloating in this article.
IBS type symptoms can affect our mood and generally make us feel sick, irritable and miserable. Although not always the cause, for a large majority of people the reason for stomach bloating and excessive gas is quite simply their unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices. This article takes a closer look and offers some effective advice for overcoming the problem of excessive flatulence and bloating.
As a fructose and lactose intolerant vegetarian myself, I know changing the way and what you eat makes a huge, positive difference.
I have my wonderful, highly knowledgeable friend Jodye to thank for fixing my gut issues; she opened my eyes and digestive system to the correct way to nourish your body.
Also read my other article on gut issues –Leaky Gut, SIBO and Food Malabsorption , Common Causes of Bloating and Gas
Serious Conditions That Can Cause Bloating and Gas
Important! -Before you read any further, please, if you have any of the digestive issues mentioned above, it is vitally important not to self-diagnose, but to get medically assessed and first rule out any serious illnesses and diseases; e.g. Celiac Disease, Colitis, Crohn’s, Cancers and Hereditary Fructose Intolerance etc.
Other less serious conditions that can be treated by an integrated medical doctor, or naturopath are SIBO – Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, Leaky Gut Syndrome, Fructose and Lactose intolerances.
If you are cleared of all the above, then you can begin your journey of self-healing through diet and lifestyle.
In a nutshell it comes down to this simple equation – unhealthy diet plus unhealthy lifestyle, equals unhealthy digestive system and unwanted digestive symptoms such as excessive gas and cramping etc. Below are the main culprits of excessive flatulence.
Your Diet is too Acidic
If your body’s pH is too acidic, it is no doubt from dietary choices and it is therefore basically an unhealthy body.
Our body’s pH is extremely important, it should be slightly more alkaline than acidic and if it leans to being slightly more acidic then it becomes a breeding ground for ill health, disease and digestive issues.
So what causes the body to be too acidic?
You first need to look at your lifestyle as a whole unit – are you stressed, anxious, depressed, ill or injured?
Then you need to look at your diet, is your diet high in sugar and this includes fructose, (also known as fruit sugar and high fructose corn syrup) alcohol, processed food, unhealthy fats, animal protein and fried foods?
Do you smoke or take drugs?
Are you overweight?
Do you rarely exercise?
If the answer is yes to any or all of these, then you can almost bet that your body’s pH levels are too acidic and so certain foods that require an alkaline digestive process are not being adequately processed and absorbed properly and this leads to food fermenting in the gut and this results in excessive flatulence, bloating, cramping, bowel issues etc.
Here is a NCBI scientific report The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That An Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Our Health . and for some in-depth information on the Human Body’s pH visit EASYpH
Food Combining and Gas
The theory is that the stomach produces an acid digestive process to breakdown certain foods, but it uses alkaline digestive process for other types of foods.
Proteins – Foods high in protein, such as meat, eggs,cheese and tofu require your stomach’s gastric juices and acidity to break them down and for the nutrients to be absorbed.
Carbohydrates – Foods high in carbohydrates (which mean high is starches and sugars); for example bread, pasta, rice, potato etc require your stomach to have a more alkaline environment to absorb the nutrients from the food.
Foods high in fats don’t really alter the pH of the stomach, but they do activate the Bile ducts and bile flows into the stomach and if you are eating foods that require an alkaline environment to be properly digested, then they will be neutralized by these secretions and the stomach will not remain in an optimal alkaline state.
The trouble begins when you put a strain on your digestive system by eating two or more food combinations that require breaking down by significantly different stomach pH levels.
When this happens the food sits around longer in the gut than it should and doesn’t get absorbed properly. It then ferments in the stomach providing a feast for yeast and bacteria and then the balance in your gut is out and symptoms such as excessive gas, bloating, cramping, nausea, diarrhoea and constipation occur. Dr.J Klaslow’s article here is worth reading to gain a better understanding about Food Combining.
Foods that cause Gas
You need to take into account is that there are some types of foods and drinks that all on their own create flatulence and affect some of us more than others . Here is a list of some of the well recognised culprits, you will need to experiment with what you can and can’t tolerate:
Carbonated Drinks, Sulfur Dried Fruits, Prunes, Raisins, Bananas, Apricots, Coffee, Spicy Food, Beer, Onions, Leeks, Peas, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Radishes, Legumes, Foods High in Bran, Fried and Fatty Foods, Chewing Gum, Sucking on Hard Candy, Artificial Sweeteners including natural ones.
Other Flatulence Offenders
Certain medications and health supplements, gulping air when eating, talking or exercising, eating too fast, stress and anxiety and living in a toxic environment full of chemicals and pollution, as this generally makes your body unwell, so your digestive system won’t cope either.
How To Control Excessive Gas and Bloating
So one of the most effective and natural ways to deal with the issue of excessive gas and bloating is to clean out your body and modify your diet and lifestyle. You need to make sure the foods you eat are more alkaline forming in the body than acidic. The best way to do this is to seek the help of an experienced holistic GP, Naturopath, Dietician or Nutritionist, who has an understanding about the above topics of Body pH, Food Combining, Low Fodmap Diets etc.
It sounds complicated and believe me at first I too thought it all seems like too much hard work, but when you get used to it, it really is a lot easier than you think and when you also see the positive results of a happy digestive system, then believe me, it is well worth the effort.
Here are a few tips to get your started.
You will need to put as little stress on your digestive system as possible while you clean it up and this means;
- Eating a diet high in organic (if possible), alkaline forming foods. * Note- although I believe organic foods are always preferable, we understand that they are not always available to everyone because of the costs and logistics of obtaining them.
- Eat a balanced diet that is high in green vegetables and other alkaline forming foods. When you look at your plate 3/4’s should be filled with good alkaline forming foods and a 1/4 with protein or acid forming foods.
- Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day, but not with meals as this dilutes your digestive juices. Drink water at least 30 mins each side of a meal. Also do not drink very cold water, as it shocks your system.
- Start your morning off with a warm drink of fresh lemon water, to cleanse and kick-start your digestive system.
- Steer away from sugars, processed foods, fried foods, high fat snack foods, dairy and animal products. The reason for avoiding meat is that the human body takes a long time to be able to process and breakdown the animal protein, due to the fact that we do not have a short intestinal tract like that of true carnivores and therefore the meat sits for a long time in our gut and it actually begins to putrefy or rot in our guts.
- Do not use artificial sweeteners. Pure organic Stevia in small amounts can usually be tolerated.
- The right vitamins and supplements such as adding probiotics (must be lactose free) and digestive enzymes to your day can go a long way to helping reestablish the good bacteria in your gut as well as helping to heal your unhealthy digestive system. But with both probiotics and enzymes please first check with a health professional.
- Be careful, as even healthy foods such as Chia Seeds as they can cause bloating and cramping etc in more sensitive individuals.
- Eat foods low in FODMAP’s, see –High FODMAP Foods To Avoid.
- Try not to combine protein and starches. Even if all you can do in some situations is to space them out 20-30 mins apart, it is still going to be easier on your digestive system.
- Eat all fruit away from meals and never ever at night as dessert after dinner, as it will sit on top of your meal and ferment, causing copious amounts of gas and bloating.
- Exercise and try to maintain a healthy weight. If you follow a healthy alkaline rich diet and do moderate daily exercise, even a brief 20 min walk, then you will find that excess fat will gradually drop off.
- Stress buster away your stress and anxiety any way you can , as stress will tie your digestive system up in knots and exacerbate your symptoms . Try daily to at least one or more of the following warm baths, massage, walk, Yoga, Pilates, stretching, meditation practice and even taking the time to sit and relax with a good book.
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