Why do I bloat after Eating?

Many clients complain of bloating very soon after eating or feeling full before finishing a meal, although they started into their meal feeling hungry. I outline possible reasons.

Your gastrointestinal tract (GI) is long and if bloating occurs soon after eating, we might immediately blame the upper GI but we cannot ignore the lower GI because one impacts the other.

Here are 5  possible reasons for bloating


1. Your diet may be low in fibre and over the years, this has affected the family of bacteria living in your gut. Gut bacteria feed on fibre to produce fatty acids like butyric acid. These acids help to rebuild the inner lining of the gut. Long-term, a low fibre diet can affect the  integrity of the wall, allowing leakage of proteins and toxins into the blood steam causing inflammation  and food allergies/intolerances.

Additionally when fibre is low and you are not hydrating enough, the gut cannot propel food along the gut and you get constipated.  Bacteria in the lower bowel can act on matter within the bowel produces toxic gases and bloating. Low fibre has been linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. However, when you start to increase your fibre, sometimes you can experience a bad reaction with excessive gas and bloating. People with IBS type symptoms appear to have lost the ability to deal with short-chained sugars and fibres and in these cases the Low FODMAP diet can help with a slow re-introduction of foods overtime.

Not enough digestive enzymes or too much acid

2. You may produce too much or too little stomach acid and not enough digestive enzymes. Years of overloading the gut, overweight, smoking, alcohol, stress, zinc deficiency and poor diet can affect the production of digestive enzymes and acids. In conditions such as celiac, the villi of the small intestine are harmed and these villi produce the brush border enzymes. Damaged villi may lead to insufficient digestive enzymes.

In some cases medication may be necessary to reduce acid levels in the stomach due to inflammation.  However you need stomach acid to effectively break down protein food so that it can be fully absorbed.  You could try supplementing HCL and digestive enzymes with your meal  and see if these reduce the bloating after a meal.  Get advice when trying this as HCL can burn the lining.

Lactose intolerance can also cause bloating and this is you you are lacking an enzyme that breaks down the sugar in dairy.

A Yeast or Bacterial overgrowth

3. You may have an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria as a result of a low-fibre, high sugar, poorly balanced diet, too many antibiotics or a parasite you picked up abroad. Yeasts such as Candida Albicans are present in our gut in small numbers but if they overgrow they upset the gastrointestinal balance and can affect other parts of the body. In my 20’s living in London I had Candida and it was energy sapping and affected my heart and brain. A yeast, gluten and processed food-free diet sorted me out but it took almost a year!

 Helicobactor pylori, a bacteria, can survive in the stomach and cause bloating.  Get tested for Helico at your GP. There is a 3-pronged antibiotic packet that kills it off. Follow it up with a probiotic and get re-tested from time to time as it can return and is transferred within the family. Bacteria from the lower bowel can over-grow into the upper bowel, a condition known as small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO), which is extremely difficult to sort out. 

A Low Carb diet is amazingly effective at correcting bacterial and yeast imbalances. You deprive them of their food – sugar. Eliminate sweeteners (sorbitol, all the ‘ols’) also as they cause bloating. Once the bowel begins to settle, introduce prebiotic foods (oats, beans, leeks, onions etc), probiotics (capsules or yoghurts)  and natural anti-microbial foods such as manuka honey or herbs such as oregano, cinnamon, coriander to correct the balance. However, in people such as IBS sufferers, they lose the ability to cope with prebiotic foods and have to avoid certain fibres and sugars until their gut re-innoculates with bacteria and repairs. Vivi-Mixx is can  be an effective probiotic to trial.

A food intolerance

4. This is where your immune system becomes sensitive to certain foods and reacts against it. It tends to occur with foods that we eat most frequently. The best way of identifying a food intolerance is to eliminate it completely for 4 weeks and monitor how you feel. Keep a food diary and start with your most commonly eaten food. Do it one food at a time. This can be a long process.

Gluten (found in rye, wheat, barley and oats), lactose in dairy, soya, eggs are common intolerances and starches found in a wide of food called FODMAP foods. These make the gut wall ‘sensitive’ and cause bloating. Then other foods can aggravate the sensitised gut wall – fruits, coffee, alcohol, nitrites in processed meats amongst others but you may not be intolerant to them in the long-term. 

Additionally you may be adding too much salt to your meals and retaining food.

How you eat

5. Other more obvious reasons for bloating are over-eating, eating too fast and gulping lots of air as you eat, over-hydrating while eating, not chewing food properly, stressed while eating, eating on the move, eating  late at night. Become aware of you behaviour around meal times. Constipation in the lower bowel affects the upper bowel therefore take advice on how to get your bowel moving.

In summary

Paying attention to your gut health, listen to it, this  is a large part of the recovery process. You know best what agrees and does not agree with you. I have seen a number of  clients with obvious digestive issues such as indigestion, constipation, bloating, neurological issues such as sleep disruption, mood swings, anxiety, difficulty getting up in the morning, sluggishness after awakening, poor concentration and memory.  The gut-brain link  is strong and not yet fully understood.  By helping the gut, the other symptoms may hopefully improve with time.

Poor digestion can also affect  the immune system with 60% or more of our immune cells hanging out in or near our gut.  Therefore the gut is often involved in  immuno-related conditions like psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis. By sorting your gut, you may improve your overall health.

If you would like help losing weight and have gut issues, contact me.

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