One of the most common complaints I hear from patients is the feeling of being bloated, particularly after eating a meal, that can last for the rest of the day. Burping or heartburn can be apart of this situation, but not always. And this comes down to the cause of the bloating; which there are a few.
Bromelain is the enzyme found in pineapple, that helps to break down proteins for absorption. This is one example among several types of enzymes found in food-form, such as papaya, avocados and honey, to name a few. When I hear patients are bloating with meals, I consider the following;
How are your digestive enzymes?
We use enzymes in either pill or food form depending on bloating severity, and ultimately what works best for you – the patient. If we’re seeing undigested foods in our stool, such as leafy greens, bell peppers, carrots, among other foods, this is when enzymes are considered. It is important to get assessed first, as there are safety concerns in pancreatitis or other pancreas concerns with digestive enzyme supplementation.
How is your stomach acid?
Stomach acid support should be investigated if you are also experiencing heartburn or frequent burping, as this could be a sign of too low stomach acid, not allowing for proper closure of the elastic band that sits on top of the stomach. Acid inhibitors like esomeprazole (Nexium) and pantoprazole (Pantoloc), work by lowering stomach acid, which isn’t always best for all patients. However, treatment can become tricky with diagnosed or suspected stomach ulcers, as we do want to find a way to avoid that continued stomach lining irritation from stomach acid, allowing time for the ulcer to appropriately heal. This is where talking to your Naturopathic Doctor becomes essential, to ensure both safety and efficacy of the treatment plan.
Do you notice specific foods trigger your bloating?
Food sensitivities – which are a different immune reaction than an allergy – need to be explored, if you notice bloating when eating particular foods. There are two ways I like to go about this, either trying a modified elimination diet, or requisitioning for a IgG food sensitivity panel, if indicated.
What about anxiety and stress?
The relationship between stress, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome should be explored, particularly in those who feel that their mental/emotional state heavily impacts their bowel frequency. We know the gut-brain connection to be ever-so strong; some are impacted to a greater extent, such as experiencing loose stools before work meetings.
If you’re suffering from bloating, please know that you don’t have to be. If you have any questions regarding assessments and investigations, let’s chat.
Yours in health,
Dr. Alison Gottschalk, ND