Nothing can put you off quite like bloating, gas or constipation. Symptoms of gastrointestinal distress can be distracting, painful and even embarrassing. Quite simply they can ruin your day.
Bloating and other digestive ailments are so prevalent that they’re their own industry! Much research has been performed and many doctors make a lot of money recommending patented medicines to help alleviate these problems. Consider though, one study found that 84% of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) incidences occurred only as a result of the food eaten.  That means that the majority of the time you can control how your gut feels!
By taking a few simple steps, you can reduce the suffering from these unpleasant ailments. The following nine facts will provide you with insight as to why you must protect your system and how you can avoid bloating, constipation and gas.
Fact #1: Your Stomach is Your Second Brain
Digestion is a complex process. In the stomach, your body breaks down the food you ate. The entire process requires managing acidity levels, recognizing vitamins, minerals and organic compounds, and releasing the correct enzymes. Absorption needs to be regulated, waste needs to be processed. A complex, messy process it is.
It’s also a process to which much research effort has been devoted. It’s been discovered that the digestive system – from the stomach to release – has more neurons than the spinal cord or the entire rest of the nervous system. Only the brain itself has more neurons. 
Why is this fact important when addressing bloating, gas and constipation? Well, simply, it’s why bloating makes you feel so bad and elicits a bad mood. If you need any motivation not to eat that fried candy bar – now you have it. You probably wouldn’t soak your brain in toxic junk food, yet when you eat foods that cause bloating and gas, you’re doing just that.
Fact #2: Managing Bacteria Can Limit Bloating
Like it or not, your gut contains billions of bacteria. Eating the right foods helps the bacteria avoid unpleasant bloating, gas and constipation. Eat the wrong foods and you will suffer for it. The wrong foods will be those that can slow digestion and feed the ‘bad’ bacteria to create gas and bloating. One 2010 study found that European children had a greater incidence of bacteria that cause intestinal inflammation, bloating and gas than African children who ate a natural diet. 
‘Bad’ gut bacteria flourish when you consume foods high in sugars and processed fats. Taking antibiotics can also kill a wide range of bacteria, including the good ones, leaving you susceptible to an overgrowth of unwanted bacteria. A slowed movement of the intestines (the way food moves through your system) can allow waste to build up and feed the bacteria that cause gas and bloating. Eating probiotic foods or taking a good probiotic supplement can help to encourage healthy intestinal flora. 
Fact #3: Consuming Gas and Air Aggravates Bloating
Carbonated beverages like soda and beer can introduce additional gases to your system. These gases can enter your lower digestive tract to create a feeling of bloating and gassiness. Additionally, you can swallow air when you chew and swallow food. If bloating occurs after every meal regardless of food and drink, this may be a cause to consider.
Fact #4: Your Gut is the Start of Your Immune Response
In order to prevent illness, your body attacks invaders as soon as it recognizes them. Since your digestive system is the major entry point into your body, much of your immune response occurs in your gut. Invaders can be ‘bad’ bacteria, toxins or foods that initiate an allergic (immune) response. One of the side effects of any immune response is inflammation. When it occurs in the digestive tract, it creates an environment that promotes bloating.
There is also increased waste and gasses as a result of the immune system eliminating the invaders. Some immune responses come from genetic diseases, such as celiac disease where gluten (a component of wheat) comes under attack. Of course, recent research has found a growing increase in gluten response…
Fact #5: Gluten Sensitivity is on the Rise
Researchers have observed an increase in individuals who report a gluten response, but do not have the underlying conditions for celiac disease.  While researchers have not yet identified the source of this rise, individuals experiencing IBS after eating wheat based foods should be aware and address accordingly.
Fact #6: Don’t Fall Victim to a Traffic Jam
Slowed peristalsis (the movement of the bowels) can result in a fecal matter build-up. Although magnesium helps maintain consistent muscle function, many factors can impact peristalsis and encourage the build-up of bad bacteria. One key to keeping your system healthy and moving is go when you have to – don’t hold it. This advice may seem straightforward because it is. Make time to take care of the body’s needs and you’ll save hours and days of discomfort.
Fact #7: Bloating, Gas and Constipation may be Indications…
Bloating, gas, and constipation as well as diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems are indications that something may be wrong. Most times, these conditions are temporary but you should consider the dietary factors that may have contributed. When problems persist, they may indicate a more serious condition that you should see your doctor about.
Of course, you should also know…
Fact #8: Natural Remedies Exist to Restore Balance
Many natural products can help re-establish natural digestive balance to help reduce the likelihood you’ll experience bloating, gas and constipation. When nutrient, enzyme, or probiotic imbalances are creating problems, be aware that these are problems you can correct by correcting your diet, taking a probiotic, or supplementing with digestive and systemic enzymes.
How do you keep your gut in check? If you have a tip or insight, please leave a comment below and share with us!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
- 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.
- Hadhzy, Adam. Scientific American. “Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being”
- De Filippo C, Cavalieri D, Di Paola M, Ramazzotti M, Poullet JB, Massart S, Collini S, Pieraccini G, Lionetti P. Impact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and rural Africa. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 17;107(33):14691-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1005963107. Epub 2010 Aug 2.
- Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. 2013 Apr 22;5(4):1417-35. doi: 10.3390/nu5041417.
- Nijeboer P, Mulder CJ, Bouma G Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity: hype, or new epidemic? Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2013;157(21):A6168.