Our digestive system is about 9 meters long and extends from the mouth to the anus. When mechanisms such as digestion, absorption, transit and elimination of ingested food do not occur in an ideal way, they can lead to an excessive presence of gas inside the gastrointestinal walls, causing several hassles. The causes can be multiple but are often linked to lifestyle and nutrition. Let’s see some of them.
Our digestive system is about 9 meters long and extends from the mouth to the anus. It is characterized by a thick layer of musculature whose contraction, after ingestion of food, induces dilation and restriction of the gastric and intestinal lumen allowing an optimal digestion, absorption, transit and elimination of ingested food. When these mechanisms do not occur in an ideal way they can lead to an excessive presence of gas inside the gastrointestinal walls, causing swelling and sometimes severe abdominal pain, flatulence, eructation, constipation and diarrhea.
Abdominal bloating is more common than believed, especially in the female population. The causes can be multiple but are often linked to lifestyle and nutrition. Let’s see some of them:
- Nutrition. Some foods are associated with abdominal bloating. These include legumes, cabbage, broccoli, apples, plums, onions, shallots, garlic and complex carbohydrates. Even industrial foods and those rich in sugar can undergo fermentation in our intestines, increasing the presence of gas, as well as “fodmaps”, small carbohydrates that are hardly absorbed and become the substrate for fermentative processes of intestinal bacteria;
- Bad eating habits. The high ingestion of air during meals due to only partial chewing and quick intake of food, fleeting meals between one appointment and the next, food consumed in front of the TV that distracts us from what we are eating are examples of bad eating habits;
- Bacterial composition. An alteration of the intestinal bacterial composition, intestinal dysbiosis (characterized by a high number of bacteria that carry out fermentation), causes a high release of gas in the intestinal lumen;
- Inflammations. The presence of intolerances and inflammations in the stomach and intestinal tract and sensitivity to some foods can create abdominal bloating. For example, in subjects who do not digest dairy products, these foods remain undigested in the intestinal lumen and will be used by intestinal bacteria to ferment;
- Lifestyle. Smoking, alcohol, excessive consumption of chewing gum, sweets and sugary drinks can create a high accumulation of air at the gastrointestinal level. Even the emotional component, as proven by the existence of a strong link between brain and intestine, can contribute to bad intestinal peristalsis, causing only partial digestion, high fermentation and excessive gas accumulation. Hormones are also to be found as a cause of abdominal bloating. Women are more predisposed because they are characterized by hormonal variations that induce alterations of intestinal peristalsis and alterations of the microbiota, especially in the premenstrual phase, during pregnancy and in menopause.
Changing your lifestyle and following a varied and balanced diet is essential to resolve this annoying problem. If necessary and in order to restore the state of normalcy, supporting these changes with a targeted integration can be helpful. The supplements that are most successful in these cases are live microorganisms (commonly called “probiotics“) that regulate the intestinal bacterial composition, essential for eliminating unwanted species (cause of high fermentation) and restore proper digestion and regular intestinal transit. For example, acidolactic bacteria, producing organic acids, induce the elimination of unwanted microorganisms.
When you try to solve this problem with proper nutrition, we advise you not to take an unbalanced diet, removing whole classes of nutrients, but to rather contact a food specialist who will tell you how and what to change, without incurring in nutritional imbalances. Moreover, if you decide to combine a proper diet with supplements, always make sure that they are of good quality.