Generally speaking bloating is the result of not being able to digest foods properly. These foods that don’t get properly digested feel like they’re just sitting around in your stomach causing discomfort and a feeling of being full and “gassy”.
Yes, bloating can happen at any age but it can become more frequent as you’re getting older and this can be due to your stomach’s reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion.
Normally, what happens when we eat is cells in our stomach release more acid which is important for so many digestive processes like breaking down foods and activating enzymes. As we get older this process can become less productive and the result of this is that you can feel like it’s wreaking havoc on the rest of the digestive system.
Unfortunately, this can have various effects on all of our digestion abilities “downstream” and that can result in bloating.
Bloating Reason #1:
Sometimes our bodies are (or as we age they become more) sensitive to the fibre in certain fruits or veggies. This can also occur when we introduce new fibres into our diets as it may take a while for our body to adjust to them.
Tip: Chewing your vegetables more, or even lightly cooking or steaming raw ones. If one particular vegetable or fruit seems to always make you feel bloated try eliminating it from your diet for a few weeks and see if that makes a difference to your symptoms.
Bloating Reason #2:
Reduced stomach acid can reduce the activation of the key protein-digesting enzyme “pepsin”. What this means is the proteins you eat aren’t broken down as much and they can end up passing through your system somewhat “undigested”.
Pro Tip: You could consider decreasing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and see if that makes a difference.
Bloating Reason #3:
When your digestive system slows down it can cause bloating. Then things seem to be a bit stagnant, just hanging around in there a bit or a lot longer than you would like them to.
Something that has been found to aid with digestion and also can reduce the feeling of nausea is ginger. Peppermint is also thought to help your digestive muscles keep moving food through, so it doesn’t stay in one spot for too long and cause discomfort.
Tip: Drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger could be helpful. See my recipe below.
Bloating Reason #4:
This lack of digesting in your stomach and small intestine puts extra unwanted stress on your large intestine.
The large intestine is where all of your wonderful gut microbes that have SO many functions in the body live together in harmony. The issue is when undigested food enters the large intestine it can feed the not-so-nice microbes. As a part of their natural metabolism these not nice bacteria produce waste material and gas. The more of these microbes you have in your system (and if they are constantly being fed by undigested food in the large intestine they will multiply) the more gas is produced in the large intestine.
Tip: Eat more fermented foods. Probiotics in fermented foods will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system to keep the bad guys away. This includes things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these foods don’t cause you bloating!). Be sure that they are unpasteurized and contain live cultures. If dairy doesn’t agree with you dairy free options are available or you could have a go at making your own dairy free versions.
You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement but check the label first to make sure it’s right for you.
Bloating Reason #5:
With reduced stomach acid you also have a reduction of the “activation” of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them). In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food they need to be activated. This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid.
Tip: You may want to consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on re-establishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!). But before you start taking anything make sure you read the labels because some of them interact with other supplements, medications, or conditions, and may not be safe for long-term use.
You can try the tips I’ve given you in this post. You may prefer working with a practitioner on an elimination diet to get to the bottom of the mystery of which foods you may be upsetting your stomach? If bloating is a serious problem for you, you should see your doctor or alternative health care practitioner.
Recipe – Stomach Soothing Ginger Tea
Fresh ginger root (about 2 inch)
Lemon slices (optional)
Pour the water into a saucepan and heat it on the stove.
Grate the ginger root into the saucepan. Let it come to a boil, and then simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Strain the tea into a cup with a fine mesh strainer and add lemon and/or honey as desired.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: If you don’t want to use a grater and strainer then you can peel the ginger and thinly slice it into your cup before adding boiling water. The pieces should be big enough that they will sink to the bottom.