Gas and Bloating: Causes Explained

So many people suffer from gas and bloating and the results can be, well, annoying! Understanding what causes it is the first step in alleviating it.

The number one cause is an insufficiency of digestive enzymes. When you eat, as food touches your tongue, a message is sent to the brain telling it what is about to arrive in the stomach. The decisions are made of how much of which types of enzymes are needed to digest what you consumed, then released at the appropriate timing.

If you are eating fast, swallowing chunks of food, eating on the run, eating when stressed, eating while watching TV or reading or listening to a podcast, especially if it is negative, you may have put yourself into  a fight or flight response. Anything that is not needed to run or fight gets shut down. Digestion is not needed. So to start with, you need to slow down, take a deep breath and focus on chewing your food to a liquid. When you eat fast, you may also swallow air, making it worse.

Certain foods are notorious for generating gas and bloating: beans, lentils, broccoli, cabbage, onions, and other vegetables and legumes. Carbonated beverages, sugary beverages, dairy products, fried and fatty foods, artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and mannitol, and whole grains are other culprits. Some can be mitigated – such as beans and lentils – by soaking or sprouting them first, as that lessens the bloating tendencies. Salivating your food well, which takes advantage of the enzymes in your mouth, can also help.

But then there are several medications that can contribute. Antibiotics, NSAIDS, pain medications, laxatives, cholesterol lowering medications, laxative and fiber supplements can all contribute to gas and bloating, but not all of them, and not for everyone.

Improving digestion, including creating a healthy gut microbiome is critical in controlling this condition. Acupuncture helps by regulating the digestive function, via the nervous system, improving enzyme status and moving food along the intestines better. By relieving stress and promoting relaxation, the digestive system is also supported. Acupuncture relieves inflammation, helps improve food flow out of the stomach properly, and helps balance the gut microbiota.

Taking herbal bitters to stimulate digestive enzyme release, taking enzymes, especially hydrochloric acid, and other supplements that promote the health of the gut tissues are helpful. Avoiding constipation is important because the longer the waste sits in the intestines, the more putrefaction occurs, releasing more gas as part of the rotting process.

There is much you can do to help digestive gas and bloating. If I were to select the most important one, it would be to slow down when you eat! Be mindful of your chewing.

Want to hear more from Dr. Carling? Check out our podcast. Search for VitalHealth4You on your favorite podcast listening app or go to

©2024 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

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