It’s interesting how many people think that gas and bloating are “normal for them”. They laugh and make jokes about “being gassy” as if it’s a natural familial genetic trait. Yet many are surprised to hear that gas and bloating should not be a regular part of anyone’s digestive experience! Regular gas and bloating are in fact signs that that there could be serious issues going on within the stomach, small and large intestine (or all three). So what is so bad about a little gas?
First of all, you can have gas coming out either end. One of the most common causes of belching is fermenting foods in the stomach. When we don’t chew our food properly, eat when stressed or on the run, or when we don’t have enough stomach acid to break our food down properly, the undigested food will sit in the stomach and ferment. As it does it creates organic gases that push up against the esophageal sphincter that cause us to belch. Seems harmless enough, but if left untreated, this condition can lead to chronic heartburn and acid reflux that facilitate the overuse of acid blockers that can cause serious long-term malnutrition and disease.
Gas “out the lower end” and bloating are the primary signs of a serious condition called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO. There are a number of contributors to SIBO, including insufficient stomach acid, overuse of antibiotics, abdominal surgeries, and weakening of the ileocecal valve connecting the lower small intestine and colon. In this condition, too many bacteria congregate in the small intestine, feeding on food particles and creating excessive gas.
Gas and bloat are also common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, a condition which affects up to 45 million Americans. IBS can develop even years after a food poisoning incident, and often indicates the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in the small or large intestine (or both).
All of the above conditions typically include a gut that has literally “become leaky” due to chronic inflammatory and bacterial toxin insults, causing the spaces between the cells lining the gut to open and overwhelm the immune system that lies just beneath. In Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) food intolerances can abound. Dairy sensitivity is a common food sensitivity, but in LGS many other foods can become problematic, including eggs, nuts, soy, wheat/gluten, and corn.
Worst of all, if left untreated SIBO, IBS and leaky gut can lead to various kinds of autoimmune conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune thyroiditis. With the epidemic of autoimmune conditions today, we need to be looking to the gut as the “place of origin”!
Gas and bloat can be surprisingly complex to treat. At Vital Health, we are highly skilled in testing, identifying, and treating the causes of these conditions, using diet, targeted supplements, herbal therapies, and acupuncture to bring the body back into balance.
©2022 Darcy Greenwald, M.S.O.M., L.Ac. and Vital Health