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The 12 Most Common Causes of Bloating

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Causes of bloating

Bloating is uncomfortable and can make life miserable, especially when it’s chronic. There are various factors that cause bloating and, fortunately, many of them can be addressed immediately so you’re able to get back to comfortable living. To get back to healthy living, let’s take a look at the twelve most common causes of bloating.

1. Aerophagia

This is the frequent swallowing of air while chewing and swallowing. It can lead to excessive and consistent belching. When the swallowed air enters the stomach and intestines, it can cause bloating and other discomfort until it is released from the system. [1] Becoming aware of how you chew and swallow can help alleviate this excess air swallowing.

2. Inulin

This naturally occurring source of fiber has become more frequently used to add fiber to processed and packaged foods. Processing removes most fibers from food stuffs, so to make food products more marketable, food makers have turned to inulin to increase the fiber values of their packaged and processed foods.

The problem, however, is that high doses of inulin can cause bloating and cramping. One study sponsored by Cargill found that inulin caused gas and bloating in individuals who had no other history of gastrointestinal disorders. [2]

If you frequently find yourself experiencing bloating, you may want to check the ingredients of the foods you’re eating. I recommend avoiding it completely and only eating natural and organic foods.

3. Coffee

While coffee offers many benefits, too much can wreak havoc on your stomach! Coffee is a highly acidic beverage and researchers have found that excess coffee can lead to or worsen gastritis, inflammation of the stomach lining. [3]

Coffee can also worsen IBS symptoms by over-stimulating the nerves of the digestive tract, leading to bloating, gas, and other unpleasant results. Coffee isn’t the only culprit…

4. Alcohol

Researchers have found alcohol makes IBS symptoms worse. [4] Like coffee, it is highly acidic and can erode the stomach lining and increase your vulnerability to gastritis. It also stimulates hunger which can lead to over-eating. Without moderation, alcohol will damage stomach tissue. It also inhibits digestion. All this contributes to bloating, gas, and other digestive problems. The best answer is always moderation, especially when it comes to…

5. Over-eating

Eating too much food causes painful bloating and indigestion. Eating causes your stomach to expand to receive the food and then over fills the intestines for processing. It also impacts acid production and the effectiveness of the body to digest.

Researchers found that individuals who over-ate reported higher incidences of heartburn, bloating, and upper abdominal pain as well as constipation. [5] This overeating caused problems for both the upper and lower digestive tract. But, you don’t need to stuff yourself to create discomfort. It could be something very small like your….

6. Medications

It’s not uncommon for medications to create gas, bloating, and other abdominal pain. Medications that includes sorbitol and lactulose, for example, can cause bloating. [6] Antibiotics can kill not only the bad bacteria in your system, but the good ones too. This exposes you to intestinal flora imbalances. Too many bad bacteria can lead to…

7. Bacterial Overgrowth

As noted above, when an inadequate amount of good bacteria remain in the small intestine, you are susceptible to the growth of bad bacteria. In lesser cases, this can lead to gas and bloating. More serious infestations can lead to constipation or the opposite, diarrhea.

For some unfortunate individuals, small intestine bacterial overgrowth can develop along with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This overgrowth results from failure of the gastric acid barrier, failure of small intestinal motility, anatomic alterations, or impairment of systemic and local immunity. [7] Overgrowth causes swelling of the small intestine and leads to an increase in the symptoms of IBS, another common problem that leads to bloating, gas and other unpleasant feelings. [8]

8. IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, has become a common phrase used by individuals who experience frequent digestive and intestinal discomfort. While it may be used to describe an undiagnosed condition, IBS does cause pain, bloating and other intestinal problems. The change of normal bowel function as observed in IBS was defined by one study as ‘life-altering.’ [9]

Many studies have been performed to evaluate the symptoms and causes of IBS. One found an increased occurrence of immune response in individuals suffering from IBS. [10] Another study found that individuals experiencing IBS attributed it to specific food sources. They found the most common complaints centered on carbohydrates, fats and foods that stimulated immune response. [11]

9. Food Intolerances

Lactose intolerance is a well known food intolerance commonly associated with bloating and gas. A food intolerance like this results when the body lacks the necessary enzymes to break down lactose. Lactose isn’t the only dietary protein that has been noted to cause problems. One study found that other dietary proteins, as well as carbohydrates caused the bloating and gas commonly experienced from food related responses. [12]

Many of these food intolerances result from the bodies lack of the necessary enzymes to break down the food eaten. Of course, there could be another culprit…

10. GMOs

Little research has been done on the impact of GMOs on the digestive system. One of the scant few did find that DNA from antibiotic resistant GMO crops could reach the small intestine. [13] What effect will that produce?

Concerns also exist regarding the impact of the ‘Round-up ready’ crops on the friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. The elimination of these bacteria makes you susceptible to a wide array of illnesses, as well as bloating, gassiness and other illnesses. More research is needed to understand the full impact of GMOs on the human. Fortunately, with a little effort, you can control the amount of GMOs that enter your system. I advise putting none into your system.

11. Visceral Fat

This type of fat develops in between the organs and has been found to contribute to illness and disease. A recent study explored the impact of visceral fat around the bowels and its impact on intestinal inflammation. [14] While not a direct cause of gassiness and bloating, it’s impact on gut health cannot be ignored.

12. Medical Conditions

A wide variety of medical conditions have symptoms that cause bloating, constipation, and gassiness. Some of these conditions include celiac disease, gastritis, crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, and more…

When you do experience bloating, gas, constipation or other maladies, consider a natural remedy to help alleviate the symptoms. Some people have found success by supplementing with a good probiotic, digestive enzymes, or even performing a colon cleanse.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM


  1. Tack J, Talley NJ, Camilleri M, Holtmann G, Hu P, Malagelada JR, Stanghellini V. Functional gastroduodenal disorders. Gastroenterology. 2006 Apr;130(5):1466-79.
  2. Bonnema AL, Kolberg LW, Thomas W, Slavin JL. Gastrointestinal tolerance of chicory inulin products. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):865-8. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.025.
  3. University of Maryland Medical Center. Gastritis. (last accessed 2013-07-03)
  4. Reding KW, Cain KC, Jarrett ME, Eugenio MD, Heitkemper MM. Relationship between patterns of alcohol consumption and gastrointestinal symptoms among patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 Feb;108(2):270-6. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2012.414. Epub 2013 Jan 8.
  5. Cremonini F, Camilleri M, Clark MM, Beebe TJ, Locke GR, Zinsmeister AR, Herrick LM, Talley NJ. Associations among binge eating behavior patterns and gastrointestinal symptoms: a population-based study. Int J Obes (Lond). 2009 Mar;33(3):342-53. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2008.272. Epub 2009 Jan 13.
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Abdominal bloating. (last accessed 2013-07-03)
  7. Bohm M, Siwiec RM, Wo. Diagnosis and management of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. JM Nutr Clin Pract. 2013 Jun;28(3):289-99. doi: 10.1177/0884533613485882. Epub 2013 Apr 24.
  8. Stoicescu A, Andrei M, Becheanu G, Stoicescu M, Nicolaie T, Diculescu M. Microscopic colitis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth–diagnosis behind the irritable bowel syndrome? Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2012 Jul-Sep;116(3):766-72.
  9. Anastasi JK, Capili B, Chang M. Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Am J Nurs. 2013 Jul;113(7):42-52.
  10. Ishihara S, Tada Y, Fukuba N, Oka A, Kusunoki R, Mishima Y, Oshima N, Moriyama I, Yuki T, Kawashima K, Kinoshita Y. Pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome – review regarding associated infection and immune activation. Digestion. 2013;87(3):204-11. doi: 10.1159/000350054. Epub 2013 May 23.
  11. Böhn L, Störsrud S, Törnblom H, Bengtsson U, Simrén M. Self-Reported Food-Related Gastrointestinal Symptoms in IBS Are Common and Associated With More Severe Symptoms and Reduced Quality of Life. Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 May;108(5):634-41. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2013.105.
  12. Boettcher E, Crowe SE. Dietary proteins and functional gastrointestinal disorders. Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 May;108(5):728-36. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2013.97. Epub 2013 Apr 9.
  13. Ferrini AM, Mannoni V, Pontieri E, Pourshaban M. Longer resistance of some DNA traits from BT176 maize to gastric juice from gastrointestinal affected patients. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2007 Jan-Mar;20(1):111-8.
  14. Drouet M, Dubuquoy L, Desreumaux P, Bertin B. Visceral fat and gut inflammation. Nutrition. 2012 Feb;28(2):113-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2011.09.009.

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