The Common Cause of Belly Bloat Unrelated to IBS

Stomach Bloated from Excess Gas
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Gas pains, abdominal bloating, and uncomfortable indigestion are all common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. However, if you notice that these issues seem to arise shortly after meals, especially after consuming one or more of your "trigger foods," another related issue may be contributing to your gastrointestinal distress -- digestive enzyme insufficiency.

In order to efficiently break down and metabolize food into energy, your body relies on a wide array of enzymes throughout the digestive process. Each enzyme targets a particular component in the food we consume, with the purpose to break it apart into pieces that our bodies can further digest.

Unfortunately, some of us naturally lack the proper tools for the job. For example, lactose intolerant individuals are deficient in a digestive enzyme called lactase, which helps metabolize the lactose sugar present in milk and other dairy products. If someone who is lactose intolerant decides to consume something containing lactose, the resulting abdominal cramps, bloating, and diarrhea will serve as their body's stern warning never to make the mistake again.

Abdominal Bloat from Digestive Enzyme Insufficiency
Credit: Dreamstime

While lactase is among the most commonly known dietary enzymes, the human body typically contains a broad spectrum of other enzymes which metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. However, some of us were born without sufficient ability to produce certain essential enzymes, and we all suffer diminished enzyme production capacity as we grow older. As a result, certain foods that we used to be able to eat without issue suddenly begin to "disagree" with us, causing varying degrees of gastrointestinal distress. Not only do these issues make the symptoms of IBS and GERD even worse, they also have the potential to disrupt the gut biome.

When you consume foods your body cannot effectively break down, the resulting digestive tract irritation and inflammation creates a harsh environment for your beneficial gut bacteria, while also depriving them of the nourishment needed to grow and multiply. As a result, your gut-blood barrier weakens, allowing harmful toxins and pathogens to enter the bloodstream. For this reason, it is best to pay close attention to the foods you eat that cause symptoms and carefully eliminating these trigger foods from your diet. For a more scientific approach, consider talking with your doctor about visiting nutritionist to help you create a sustainable diet designed around your unique sensitivities.



Jennifer recently retired from her career as a Certified Manual Physical Therapist to spend more time with her family. When she isn't writing about natural medicine, she enjoys practicing yoga, rock climbing, and running marathons.

Email Jennifer at [email protected].


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