Bloating Uncovered: Unlocking the Secrets to a Happier, Healthier Digestive System

Bloating Uncovered: Unlocking the Secrets to a Happier, Healthier Digestive System


Bloating: that unwelcome guest at the table of life, leaving you feeling uncomfortable, distended, and contemplating your culinary choices. But fear not, fellow science-backed gastrointestinal explorers, in this blog we will

Navigate the Maze of Bloating Causes: From gas buildup to gut dysbiosis, we'll decipher the various culprits behind that uncomfortable fullness.

Unravel the Microbiome Mystery: Explore the fascinating link between gut microbes and bloating, and how nurturing a healthy microbiome can be key to a calmer tummy.

Unveil Sustainable Solutions: Ditch the quick fixes! We'll equip you with science-backed strategies, from dietary tweaks to mindfulness practices, for lasting relief.

Dampen digestive discomfort and hello to a happier, healthier you!


What is Bloating?

Bloating is a common digestive issue that can be accompanied by distention, where your abdomen is swollen beyond its normal size. 

If you were to dig into a big meal and overeat, it would be totally normal to experience bloating and abdominal distension. Where bloating can be bothersome though is when you just don’t know why it is happening. 

If you are mystified by the cause, restricting foods, or modifying your usual activities because of bloating worries it’s time to get to the bottom of what could be triggering your feeling of fullness and tightness in the abdomen.


Common causes of Bloating

Bloating can be a temporary inconvenience or a chronic condition that significantly affects your quality of life. Understanding the underlying causes of bloating is crucial in finding the right solutions and achieving long-term relief.

The most common contributing factors are diet and lifestyle related, although there are underlying medical issues that you may also wish to rule out.

Let's explore pathways involved in bloating and practical tips to address them.


Excess Gas Production

Fibre is essential for a healthy microbiome and our overall health. As our gut microbiome breaks down fibre, gas is produced. This gas leaves the gut from the top end (burped out) or bottom end (20% will leave as flatulence), it can be absorbed into the blood stream, or our microbes can feast on this gas.

If any of these removal pathways are not working well this can lead to a build up of gas that causes bloating. We can also introduce more gas by swallowing air as we are eating and drinking carbonated beverages.


Tips to help reduce your gas load:

  • To help gas escape from the upper intestinal tract, aim for 3 hours between your last meal of the day and lying down.
  • Limit carbonated beverages.
  • Adopt an upright posture while you eat to keep gasses moving through the upper digestive tract.
  • See if limiting your conversation reduces bloating. Eat a meal with and without conversation to help identify if swallowing excess air while eating is a trigger for you.
  • Build up diversity in your gut microbiome so you have species that will help with gas breakdown. A more diverse microbiome also means more digestive enzymes to support the complete digestion and breakdown of non-fibre foods before they reach your large intestine.


Gut-Brain Connection and Visceral Hypersensitivity

There is a connection between our gut and brain. We can even leverage this connection to reduce IBS symptoms with hypnotherapy [1]. It also explains why in times of stress, you may notice bloating rears its head more often.

If you are stressed, it is possible that even certain dietary triggers for bloating may be magnified, making these extra uncomfortable.

Reducing stress, and calming your sympathetic nervous system is an important component of bloating management. You can explore strategies to bring the calm here.

Our microbiome controls the production of chemicals that increase the sensitivity of our nerves. If you have a disrupted gut community that is producing more noxious chemicals like endotoxin and histamine this can increase the signalling to our nociceptive nerves [2].

The result of this is exaggerated pain signalling in your abdominal (visceral) organs. You might be interested to know that an increase in cortisol or certain food triggers like fat may increase this visceral hypersensitivity [3, 4].


Tips to calm the gut-brain connection:

  • Deep breaths to the rescue! Studies show meditation and slow, mindful breathing can reduce stress hormones, leading to a calmer gut [5]. Give your microbes some peace and quiet with just a few minutes of daily breathing exercises.
  • Limit high fat meals. Fats are an important component of a healthy diet but focus on healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado rather than saturated fats from animal products. Reducing saturated fats will positively shift your microbiome to more species that dampen inflammation.
  • Nurture your microbiome diversity to reduce dysbiosis. This will reduce endotoxin impacts and inflammatory chemicals that can increase nerve sensitivity.


Dietary Triggers for Bloating

Have you experienced bloating after eating ‘sugar-free’ sweets, having too much fruit in one day, or when you have been conscientious to include more gut loving fibre in your diet?



FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. It's a group of short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by the small intestine in some people. This can lead to various digestive issues, including bloating, gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

These short-chain carbohydrates, which include fructose and polyols, are found in some fruits and vegetables, honey, ‘sugar-free’ sweets, and even protein powders.

FODMAPS are poorly absorbed by our small intestine. As they move into the large intestine, they draw water with them leading to increased fluid in the gut, and for some a feeling of distension. As the majority of our gut microbiome resides in the large intestine, if you have a lot of bacteria that like to break down these sugars, there will be a lot of gas produced contributing to the bloating.

In general, inflammatory conditions decrease the expression of receptors that can transport these sugars out of the gut [6], which may explain why people with IBS experience some bloating relief on a diet that restricts certain sugars (low FODMAP diet).

While this can be a temporary approach to identify triggers, eating low FODMAP long term may ultimately reduce the diversity of your microbiome. If adopting a low FODMAP diet to get to the bottom of your gut issues, we recommend working with an Accredited Dietitian who is FODMAP trained.


Is My Bloating Caused by Lactose?

Globally, 70% of adults are deficient in intestinal lactase, the enzyme required for the digestion of lactose. While our body won’t start making lactase on its own if we are deficient, our microbes may lend a hand.

Small amounts of lactose feeding has been shown to support the growth of lactose-digesting bacteria in the colon, possibly reducing the intolerance symptoms experienced with lactose containing foods [7]. 


Fibre Fuelled

While fibre is essential for a healthy gut, consuming a large amount of fibre suddenly can indeed cause bloating. Fibre is essential though to build diversity in your gut community and support better digestive health in the long term. Including proven prebiotic fibre in your day will reduce dysbiosis, reduce inflammation and improve digestion to support a reduction in bloating.

If you have been dealing with digestive issues for a while, your gut will need some additional attention to restore a good balance of beneficial bacteria. Start slowly and build up your intake of prebiotic fibre over time.

There are prebiotic fibres and some probiotic strains clinically proven to reduce bloating. You will find these in our Cacao Latte where consistent intake significantly reduces bloating, gas and distension [8, 9] as they increase beneficial species in the gut microbiome like Bifidobacterium [10].


Tips for targetting food triggers:

  • To see if fruit is causing your tummy trouble reduce your intake to one serve of fruit a day and choose fruits lower in FODMAPs by swapping apples, watermelon and peaches for kiwifruit, oranges, pineapple and blueberries.
  • If you want to explore FODMAP triggers we recommend working with an Accredited Dietitian who is FODMAP trained to ensure your microbiome can thrive without restriction.
  • If you have not been feeding the fibre degraders living in your gut with a high fibre diet for a while, introduce prebiotic fibre slowly, starting at half the dose or spread your prebiotic goodness across the day. A morning serve of Microbiome Essentials and an evening Cacao Latte may be ideal if you are just starting out. If you have a good community of fibre degrading bacteria living in your gut you can go all in and pop these both in a smoothie together!


Hormones Not in Harmony

Are you one of 30-40% of females that experience PMS symptoms including bloating?

Changes in our sex hormones across our cycle can modulate visceral pain and the speed of digestion. If our gut is not contracting and moving food along our digestive tract at its usual speed, this can have us feeling bloated and sluggish.

These fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels are also the driver for more frequent bloating experienced in peri-menopause.

Nurturing you gut provides a foundation for managing menstrual symptoms and navigating perimenopause.


Loosen that Clothing

Is it your fitted pants or tight bra triggering your bloating? If your clothes are too tight, they can constrict your stomach making it harder for food to digest and gas to get be released.

The same applies for sucking in your tummy for the appearnace of a flatter stomach. This can trap gas and impact the movements of food through the digestive tract.  

If you have had a workout, take off that tight crop top and leggings when you get home, and loosen those pants. An indent at your waist on your skin may be a sign they are too tight and could be the cause of your digestive woes.


Your Microbiome Matters

 A diverse and thriving microbiome is your ally in the battle against bloating. Be cautious of a quick fix and invest in building the foundation of a diverse microbiome. By nurturing your gut diversity, you can cultivate a healthier digestive system that will help battle bothersome bloating!

About the Author

Hi, I'm Dr Cecilia Kitic founder of Fertile Gut. We can't wait to help support you on your journey to improving your gut health! Having spent over 20 years researching in the areas of immunonutrition, physiology, biochemistry and gut health we now get to translate science into practice, sooner. Our gut microbiome provides a foundation for our immune system, metabolism, brain and heart health, and hormone balance. With our scientifically crafted natural formulations you will be creating a Fertile Gut!

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