Have you ever felt like that? Not pregnant – bloated. Its an uncomfortable feeling. That tight belly, hollow drum feeling you get when you’re bloated. Your belly sticks out like you’re 6 months pregnant. There are many reasons why this may be happening. Maybe you have poor quality stomach acid, SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth), maybe you’re sensitive to certain foods like milk or wheat, or maybe you have increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut), or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
It’s likely that you have other gut symptoms too, like gas, constipation or loose bowels or even anxiety. And it’s likely that these symptoms have been going on for ages.
So what causes bloating?
In the majority of cases, that feeling Not Pregnant -Bloated is caused by a sensitivity to certain foods. The main culprits are Lactose, Fructose, Wheat and Eggs, but there are others too.
Lactose is the sugar found in milk products. As infants we produce an enzyme called lactase which breaks down lactose from milk. As we get older we produce less lactase because we were not evolved to continue drinking milk after infancy (no other mammal drinks milk after weaning). The result is that as we age we become more sensitive or intolerant to lactose which is known to cause pain, gas, bloating and loose bowels. It can also cause constipation, but that is more likely due to a protein called casein which is also found in milk. Some people who don’t drink milk are surprised to discover that lactose is present in their protein shake in the form of whey. Whey is the liquid residue from milk after it has been curdled during the cheese making process. It is high in protein, that’s why it is used in protein shakes, but it does contain lactose.
Fructose is a natural sugar that is found in fruit and vegetables and is converted to glucose by the liver. For most people, fructose is not an issue when consumed in its natural form because the fruit or vegetable consumed also contains fiber. The fiber in plants causes us to eat them slowly with lots of chewing. This makes us feel full after eating an apple, however if we were to juice the apple we would get the fructose but little fiber and not that feeling of satiety. In reality you would need to juice five or six apples to get a full glass, but you simply couldn’t eat five or six apples.
So how does fructose become problematic? Food and beverage companies use the word fructose because it sounds healthy and natural. But in reality they use High Fructose Corn Syrup in large amounts which are very sweet and quite addictive. This can lead to weight gain, obesity, fatty liver and type 2 diabetes. Some people struggle to digest fructose, either natural or man made. The fructose can ferment in the bowel when consumed by gut bacteria which releases gases such as hydrogen and methane. These gasses result in bloating and sometimes abdominal pain.
Eggs are problematic for some people who tend to notice the symptoms of intolerance thirty to ninety minutes after eating them. Common symptoms include acid reflux, nausea, stomach cramping and bloating. Ironically, some people can tolerate eggs dependent on how they are prepared. For example, cake contains egg , but there is no adverse reaction. Hard boiled eggs may be tolerate but soft boiled eggs may cause a reaction. If you love eggs, but react to them try experimenting with different cooking methods. Try scrambled eggs one day and poached egg the next.
Wheat contains proteins such as gluten and gliadin. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where gluten sensitivity causes inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine. However, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is now quite common. Although not an autoimmune disease, it still produces discomfort after eating wheat products such as feeling bloated, constipation or diarrhoea, cramping, headache, fatigue, brain fog and skin rashes.
So if you are Not Pregnant – Bloated and you would like to fix it once and for all, get in touch. I offer online video consultations or you can come and see me at the Brisbane Wellness Clinic at Cannon Hill on Wednesdays, or at the Beenleigh Mall Medical Centre on Thursdays and Fridays.