We’ve all felt bloated after a big meal or a few days of indulgent eating. After some rest and clean eating, that bloating dissipates and you eventually get back to feeling like yourself (and into your favorite jeans).
But what happens when bloating lingers on for weeks, months, or even years?
If bloating is something you experience on a regular basis, your body is trying to tell you something – and it’s time to listen!
Here we’ll review the main causes of bloating and share some simple tips to help you get your belly back in shape – the Chinese medicine way.
What Causes Bloating?
Bloating is an uncomfortable condition that occurs when the GI tract becomes filled with air or gas. When you’re bloated, you feel full and swollen throughout your abdomen. It’s common to also experience pain, gas, belching, gurgling, nausea, or fatigue.
There are many different causes of bloating:
- Gas-producing foods
- Food sensitivities
- Drinking carbonated beverages
- Swallowing air (when talking, smoking, chewing gum, snoring, or from a C-PAP machine)
- Eating too fast
Bloating can also be a symptom of other medical conditions such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Gluten intolerance
- Hormone fluctuations and PMS
- Anxiety or depression
Foods that Cause Bloating
Everyone’s digestive system is different. One food may cause bloating in some people, but not others. Still, researchers have found that certain foods are more likely to cause bloating across the board:
The lactose in dairy products can cause digestive issues including bloating and gas. Swap traditional dairy products with plant-based options to avoid lactose.
Beans are high in a group of carbohydrates called FODMAPs. These are fermented by gut bacteria in the colon which causes gas. Opt for pinto beans and black beans as they are less likely to cause gas and bloating than other beans.
Carbonated fizzy drinks contain carbon dioxide, which fills the stomach and bowels with gas. Choose still water or tea instead.
Wheat, Barley, and Rye
Wheat and related grains are high in FODMAPs and may be linked to leaky gut syndrome. Those with gluten sensitivity experience significant bloating and gas if they eat wheat.
Veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and even apples are packed with nutrients, but they are also high in FODMAPs. Cook these foods to reduce the likelihood they’ll cause bloating and eat them in small amounts.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic are commonly-used ingredients in most dishes, but they can cause digestive discomfort. This is often due to soluble fiber and other compounds that irritate the gut. If you are sensitive to onions, try flavoring your food with healthy herbs and spices instead.
Beer is high in fermented carbohydrates, carbon dioxide, and gluten – all things that are known to increase bloating. Water, red wine, white wine, or spirits are a better choice.
Bloating and Gut Health
While there are many different potential causes of bloating, poor gut health is typically at the root. When the gut microbiome falls out of balance (often because of an inflammatory diet, food sensitivities, or stress), the gut’s lining becomes damaged.
A healthy gut lining will allow for nutrient absorption while maintaining a secure barrier between the contents of the gut and the rest of the body. But with a leaky gut, the intestinal permeability increases and toxins, bacteria, and waste particles from inside the GI tract leak into the bloodstream. The immune system then responds with an inflammatory attack to defend the body from these “invaders” and bloating, fatigue, and discomfort ensure.
As the body becomes more inflamed, the gut lining suffers more damage, sensitivities increase, bloating builds, and the vicious leaky gut cycle continues.
Healing the gut lining and supporting a healthy gut with a holistic approach is a crucial step to eliminating bloating. And that’s where Chinese medicine comes in!
Bloating and Chinese Medicine
Bloating after eating is common, but is it normal?
According to Chinese medicine, no. Bloating is a sign that your digestive system is overwhelmed, stuck, or weakened. It either can’t keep up with the amount of food you’re eating, is struggling to digest the types of food you’re eating, or is generally weak and can’t do its job properly.
The power of your digestive system relies on many factors, but it tends to come down to one essential organ: the Spleen.
In Chinese medicine, the Spleen is not just that odd little forgotten organ. It is an essential factor in digestion, energy production, and even your mood. In many ways, our core vitality can be determined by how healthy our Spleen is.
Unfortunately, the Spleen easily gets overwhelmed by certain foods, stress, and that go-go-go lifestyle we are all too familiar with. One clear sign that your Spleen is in need of extra TLC is regularly feeling bloating and fatigued after a meal.
Thankfully, Chinese medicine offers many ways to boost your gut health by nurturing the Spleen. Let’s find out what you can do to embrace a healthy Spleen and finally get rid of bloating!
Wellnest Denver’s Top Bloating Remedies and Tips
When we help our patients overcome bloating at Wellnest Denver, we always include key lifestyle recommendations to make their treatments even more effective. Here’s a sneak peek at what we recommended to fight bloating:
1. Clean Up Your Diet.
Many doctors recommend a low-FODMAP diet to help reduce the amount of gas and bloating-producing compounds in your food.
At Wellnest Denver, we recommend taking it one step further by following a diet that’s customized to your body’s unique needs. By understanding the root cause of your bloating, we’ll be able to steer you away from foods that are likely to burden your digestion, and towards the foods that will fuel you best.
2. Drink or Cook with Bone Broth.
As we mentioned above, a major cause of bloating is poor gut health. When the lining of the gut is weakened, we experience leaky gut syndrome and all the bloating, discomfort, and inflammation that comes with it. Bone broth is a simple way to encourage the body to repair intestinal lining and reduce leaky gut syndrome.
3. Give Yourself an Acupressure Belly Massage.
A little self-care goes a long way when it comes to bloating. An easy way to clear out your digestive tract and soothe your belly is with an acupressure belly massage. Try a belly massage, like this one, then use a few special acupressure points to enhance it.
Ren 12 is a point that helps to bring ease and comfort to the entire abdomen. Find it on the midline, halfway between the bottom tip of your sternum and the belly button.
Spleen 9 is another great point that can help reduce bloating and improve the function of your Spleen. Find it on the inner leg, just below the knee in a tender depression off the tibia bone.
4. Eat Slow and with Intention.
Taking the time to properly eat a meal is a proven method to reduce or eliminate bloating. When we inhale food, we typically don’t chew thoroughly enough, we don’t give the stomach enough time to secrete the digestive enzymes needed to break food down, and we swallow a lot of air. These all lead to excessive bloating.
Slowing down at mealtimes also benefits the Spleen. When you sit down to eat, do just that. Take your time to actually enjoy your food and put away any distractions like social media and email.
5. Get Regular Acupuncture.
The most efficient way to reduce bloating and improve your overall gut health is through acupuncture. Instead of focusing on just the symptom of bloating, our Chinese medicine lens allows us to take a look at the big picture. We’ll figure out why you are struggling with bloating and use acupuncture to restore the health of your entire digestive system.
But don’t just take our word for it! Research proves that acupuncture is an effective treatment that offers significant improvements for a range of digestive disorders including bloating, IBS, and constipation.
Get Rid of Bloating at Wellnest Denver
Bloating may seem like just a fact of life, but it’s actually a sign that your gut needs some loving attention.
At Wellnest Denver, we’re experts in helping you feel good in your body. With the help of acupuncture, Chinese medicine, a smart diet plan, and other lifestyle changes, you won’t have to live with the burden of bloating any longer!
Ready to get rid of bloating once and for all? Call us today or book your first visit online.