Bloating: A Symptom of Digestive Issues
Bloating is usually one of many digestive issues for my clients. But of late, I am working with clients where bloating is their primary and really only major symptom.
But oh what a symptom! The erratic nature of bloating makes it difficult to manage... let alone understand. I am often told that days - even months - can go by without any issues and then bam! They look 5 months pregnant on some days, but no issue on other days.
They have certain pants they wear on their bloating days to avoid any pressure on their stomach. They wake up bloated or it gradually develops during the day. Sometimes they even miss out on work and play because they are so uncomfortable. For some, this pattern can go on for years.
Many times they have visited their doctor already. They have had endoscopies and colonoscopies. All reports indicate a normal functioning gut. They are tested for H.pylori and coeliac disease - usually negative.
So where do we start if all these tests are negative?
Usually, not always, but usually, bloating is one or a combination of three things:
1) Not breaking down food properly
2) Not eating the right foods
3) An imbalance in the bacteria in the gut
For long-term and/or more serious cases, I do recommend a Complete Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) test. This tells me how well the gut functions in terms of breaking down foods, the beneficial and pathogenic bacteria present as well as ruling out other infections, providing information regarding any inflammation and parasites present. It's an amazing test that is worth every dollar.
Based on the results, we then start a protocol that looks to address the issues found.
This usually means:
a) Digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid to help break down food. Many of us are low in digestive enzymes due to low protein intake and stress. Zinc levels drop when we are stressed due to the increasing demand for zinc. Zinc is also needed to make digestive enzymes.
b) Food intolerance test to rule out any foods that are contributing to stress (physical) as well as the bloating.
c) Pre and probiotics to restore the bacteria balance in the body. I do find the results are best when a non-bloating prebiotic is used. Partially hydrolysed guar gum is my preferred one.
This process usually takes about three months, provided there are not serious bacteria issues (e.g. SIBO) nor parasites.
If bloating is an issue for you, whether alone or in combination with other symptoms, seek help as soon as possible. For many, the symptoms continue and get worse, so act quickly. An occasional episode of bloating may not warrant any intervention. But a long-standing issue most definitely needs some attention and support.