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If you've been experiencing abdominal gas and bloating, you're not the only one. This is a huge problem for many Americans. It may be one of the more uncomfortable topics to talk about but, while bloating and excessive gas might not make for great small talk or dinner conversation, it should be talked about more. This is an issue that can be fixed, and many people don't even realize it.
Today I want to talk about everything you need to know about this issue and really put together the big picture for you. I'm going to cover the four main reasons you experience problems like gas, bloating, constipation, and even abdominal pain. I also want to share with you the four best things you can do about it.
In this article:
What Causes Abdominal Gas and Bloating?
Some people may not realize that they're bloated at first. If they don't realize they're bloated, they may think their issues are being caused by something else. They may be contributing those extra inches on their waistline to fat when really they're just bloated. If you are bloated, this can be due to a different underlying digestive issue that needs to be corrected. How can you tell the difference?
One main thing to keep in mind is that fat does not fluctuate very significantly or noticeably over the course of just one single day. For example, let's say you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and you look slim. You start to feel great thinking you're finally making progress on your weight loss journey. But, before you go to bed, your heart sinks. You feel swollen, and your abdomen looks much bigger.
If you can relate to this, please don't lose hope. It's likely not fat at all. You may just be bloated, and I want to help.
It's also important not to jump straight to problems like irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease as the cause of your abdominal gas and bloating. Let's look at the four things that are likely causing your digestive problems.
What is SIBO? SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, is a situation where you have too much bacteria in the wrong location. Your body is home to lots of friendly bacteria. Most of these good bacteria in your gut should be in the large intestine, not the small intestine. When you have too much bacteria in the small intestine, you're going to experience too much gas. This happens because those friendly microbes are not meant to be in that environment.
The types of gas that you're experiencing are hydrogen gas and methane gas.
This gas can cause issues like:
- Abdominal pain
SIBO can even steal your nutrients and can cause nutritional deficiencies.
What you can do is get a test called a hydrogen methane breath test. It's non-invasive, and it's not that expensive, but you may need a prescription to get it. This test will quickly let you know if you have SIBO. If it is SIBO, you can start on a course of action. If it's not SIBO, at least you can rule that out. Definitely talk to your doctor about the hydrogen methane breath test if you think you may have this issue. If you do get a prescription, there are companies that you simply fax the prescription to, and they will send you the test.
2. Too Many Methanogens
There is a situation where you have an imbalance of microbes. When it comes to your gut flora, balance is crucial. But, with this specific situation, you may have too many methanogens causing an imbalance. Really, having too many methanogens is kind of a mild version of SIBO.
Methanogens are ancient microbes that make hydrogen gas and methane gas. These microbes consume polysaccharides which are starches and sugars. With this situation, you have excessive fermentation, and these starches and sugars are producing a lot of gas.
An excess of these microbes can cause issues like:
3. Stomach Acid
Something else that can cause abdominal gas, bloating, constipation, and pain in the abdomen is low stomach acid. Having low stomach acid can also set you up for SIBO, which will cause these symptoms.
For example, let's say you're consuming a lot of protein. You can get abdominal gas and bloating if you don't have enough stomach acid to digest the protein.
You may also have decreased bile. Bile is produced by the liver and is stored in the gallbladder. Bile is one of the most misunderstand and forgotten fluids in the body. However, it's also one of the most important fluids in your body. If you don't have enough bile, it can definitely create problems like abdominal gas and bloating.
These problems will occur because without enough bile you won't be able to digest fats. For example, if you consume a lot of nuts or oils, without enough bile, everything will just kind of sit. When this happens, you may even notice pain on the right side of your body.
What to do About Abdominal Gas and Bloating?
Now that you understand why you're experiencing these issues like gas, bloating, and constipation—what do you do about it?
Let's dive right in.
1. Lower Your Carbs and Fiber
I want to focus on this first point because this is really the most important thing you can do to help overcome these symptoms—lower your carbs. Carbs create a lot of stress and inflammation in your gut. Cutting your carbs has tremendous positive effects for the entire body including reducing that stress and inflammation in the gut.
Another thing that needs to be lowered is your fiber intake. I know this goes against much of what you've probably heard, but trust me it will help. You may even want to cut fiber (including vegetable fiber) out completely for about a month.
If your symptoms are less extreme, you may not need to cut fiber out completely. But, in any case, you should consume cooked vegetables instead of raw, and you should still consume smaller amounts.
Cutting out fiber for about a month will help reset your system. This is especially important if you have SIBO because the microbes in the small intestine are eating fiber and making more gas. You don't want to feed that bacteria, because if you do, it's not going anywhere. You want to get rid of these microbes as quickly as possible. Intermittent fasting will also help clear out your system in between meals.
2. Add Betaine HCL
Betaine HCL (betaine hydrochloride) is a natural amino acid compound, and it will help increase your hydrochloric acid. It can be found in certain foods like beets, spinach, beef, and shrimp. But, to get the amount of betaine hydrochloride you need in this situation, supplements might be your best option.
It's really crucial that you start rethinking stomach acid. Many people think stomach acid is a bad thing, but stomach acid is actually one of the most important fluids in the body. With this issue, you don't need less stomach acid—you need more.
There are three main purposes of stomach acids, which are:
- To help break down proteins
- To help absorb minerals
- To kill off microbes
A lot of people have low stomach acid. Those who are especially susceptible to this condition are people who have a history of taking anti-acids, antibiotics, or who have been on low-salt diets.
Taking betaine hydrochloride supplements will really help you see a change in your digestion, but it will take time. It may even take a few months before you notice a significant change.
How to take betaine hydrochloride:
- Take 4-6 tablets before each meal
- Don't take calcium at the same time (it will neutralize the acid)
- This is not something you take long-term (after you've had time to make enough acid, you can stop taking it)
3. Avoid Dairy
Dairy products could also be the hidden source of your abdominal gas and bloating. Many people have lactose intolerance or sensitivities to lactose. You may also be allergic to casein which is the protein in dairy.
Lactose intolerance occurs when your small intestine doesn't produce enough of the enzyme lactase to digest milk sugar or lactose.
To correct this, it's as simple as saying goodbye to dairy products. It may be difficult at first, but there are a lot of fantastic dairy-free substitutes, and it's just not worth it if you're lactose intolerant.
4. Add Bile Salts
The last thing that may be beneficial in this situation is to add bile salts. You really only need to do this if you don't have enough bile. But, of course, how do you know if you have enough bile? Well, if you don't have enough bile, you may experience pain on the right side of your body in the shoulder area or under the rib cage.
Adding purified bile salts right after the meal will help with bloating. To maximize your digestion, it wouldn't hurt to take betaine hydrochloride before your meal, and then take purified bile salts after your meal.
I really wanted to cover these points for those of you who have problems with intestinal gas, abdominal bloating, or other gas-related symptoms like constipation and abdominal pain. I believe the tips and natural remedies I've shared will make a difference and will ultimately help you overcome these uncomfortable issues. Let me know how they work for you.
Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.