Bloating is generally the result of not being able to properly digest foods leading to discomfort and a feeling of being stuffed or “gassy”.
This can happen at any age but if it seems to be more frequent as you’re getting older it could be due to your stomach’s reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion.
Normally, when we eat, cells in our stomach release more acid which is important for breaking down foods and activating enzymes. As we age this process can become less efficient.
Bloating Reason #1:
Sometimes as we age our bodies become sensitive to the fiber in certain fruits or veggies.
Tip: Chew your vegetables slowly & thoroughly or eat them lightly cook or steamed. If a fruit or veggie seems to be consistently related to bloating, eliminate it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.
Bloating Reason #2:
Decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme “pepsin”. When this happens, the proteins you eat aren’t broken down as much and can pass through your system somewhat “undigested”.
Tip: Consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and see if that helps.
Bloating Reason #3:
Your digestive system has slowed down.
Tip: Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger. See the recipe below.
Ginger has been found to help with digestion and reduce nausea for certain people. And peppermint is thought to help your digestive muscles keep pushing food through, so it doesn’t stay in one spot for too long.
Bloating Reason #4:
A lack of digesting in your stomach & small intestine puts extra stress on the large intestine. The large intestine is the home of your wonderful gut microbes that have SO many functions in the body. The problem is when undigested food enters the large intestine it can feed the not-so-great microbes. These “unfriendly” bacteria produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism. The more of these microbes you have in your system (they will multiply if they are constantly being fed by undigested food in the large intestine) the more gas that will be produced in the large intestine.
Tip: Try eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system to keep the bad guys at bay. This includes things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these don’t cause bloating for you!). Make sure they’re unpasteurized and contain live cultures. If you cannot tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir dairy free options are available or you could make your own dairy free versions.
You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement. Just check the label first to make sure it’s right for you.
Bloating Reason #5:
With reduced stomach acid you also have a reduction of the “activation” of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them). In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food they need to be activated. This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid.
Tip: You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on re-establishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!). But before you do make sure you read the labels because some of them interact with other supplements, medications, or conditions, and may not be safe for long-term use.
You can try the “pro tips” I’ve given you in this post. Maybe you’d prefer working with a practitioner on an elimination diet to get to the bottom of which foods you may be sensitive to? If bloating is a serious problem you should see your doctor or alternative health care practitioner.
Tummy Soothing Ginger Tea
Fresh ginger root (about 2”)
Lemon slices (optional)
Pour the water into a saucepan and heat it on the stove.
Grate the ginger root into the saucepan. Let it come to a boil, and then simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Strain the tea into a cup with a fine mesh strainer and add lemon and/or honey as desired.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: If you don’t want to use a grater and strainer then you can peel the ginger and thinly slice it into your cup before adding boiling water. The pieces should be big enough that they will sink to the bottom.