(NaturalNews) Abdominal bloat. It can come immediately following a meal, a few hours after a meal, or even seemingly out of the blue. But one thing is for sure -- bloat is not normal, and it can negatively affect your energy levels, your mood, and even your ability to effectively absorb nutrients. Here are six common causes of bloating and ways to fix them:
1) Bacterial overgrowth. Believe it or not, you can actually have too much probiotic bacteria, also known as "good" bacteria, living in your small intestine. You can obviously also have too much bad bacteria living in your gut. In either case, bacterial overgrowth can cause inflammation in the abdomen, which can block the movement of food and cause digestive problems.
"Whether [bacteria] overgrow in the small intestine, it is called 'Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)' -- which can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation," explains the site EndFatigue.com about bacterial overgrowth. "SIBO may also contribute to food allergies and nutritional deficiencies."
A good way to level out bacterial overgrowth is to cut refined sugars, processed flours, and grains from your diet. You can also consume more antibacterial foods and herbs such as garlic, Pau D'Arco, olive leaf extract, and colloidal silver.
2) Low stomach acid. Another common cause of bloating is low stomach acid, the side effects of which are often mistakenly attributed to having too much stomach acid. As it turns out, heartburn is a side effect of low stomach acid, and taking over-the-counter antacid drugs to treat the problem only makes it worse. The end result is food moving too slowly through the digestive tract, leading to inflammation and other problems.
The solution for many people is simply to supplement with hydrochloric acid, also HCl. If you get gassy, bloated, or observe undigested food in your stools, chances are you simply need to boost your stomach acid levels with HCl.
3) Hormonal imbalance. A lack of stomach acid can also throw off your hormonal balance, which is duly important for proper digestion. And one of the side effects of hormone imbalance is bloating, as well as constipation, flatulence, and other digestive problems. This is why it is important to get your hormone levels checked and take the necessary steps to maintain a proper balance.
At the same time, getting your digestion in order and keeping it that way is crucial for maintaining balanced hormones. The two work hand-in-hand to boost immune function and promote longevity, not to mention their role in ensuring that the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in food are fully assimilated by the body.
4) Improper food combining. Eating foods in the wrong order or quantity can be another trigger of digestive distress, especially among people with already-sensitive systems. According to one popular health website, poor food combining is a common cause of abdominal bloat, which is why the site recommends that people adhere to the "Principle of 80/20" when eating.
This principle maintains that 80 percent of a meal should be composed of non-starchy, low-carbohydrate vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, and fresh greens. The other 20 percent should be composed of protein-heavy foods like grass-fed meat, seeds, and starchy vegetables. Eating quickly-digesting vegetables before slowly-digesting meat is another helpful tip for avoiding bloat.
5) Stress. In order for your body to effectively process and digest food, it needs to be in a state of calm and relaxation. When your body is stressed, stomach acid, enzymes, and other digestive "juices" are not produced and released at their normal rates, which can lead to poor digestion. The solution is to eliminate the things in your life that trigger the production of stress hormones, and instead focus on creating situations that put you at ease, particularly around mealtime.
"Stress itself puts a great deal of pressure on your stomach and abdomen, and upsets hormone and neurotransmitter balance," explains CalmClinic.com. "That may create an environment where foods that could normally be digested easily end up being digested poorly, leading to the creation of gas and bloating."
6) Enzyme deficiency. Whole foods in their natural form contain unique enzymes that aid in the breakdown and absorption of their components and nutrients. But heavily-cooked, processed, and other altered foods, which dominate the modern landscape, typically lack these important enzymes. As a result, food particles end up building up in the intestines and feeding bacterial colonies, which causes the problems mentioned earlier under the bacterial overgrowth heading.
"Digestive enzymes are produced by the cells that line your stomach and small intestine and by your pancreas," explains TheFoodDoctor.com. "(But) [f]actors such as stress and intestinal inflammation caused by infection or food intolerances result in lower levels of digestive enzymes being produced," adds the site, noting that digestive enzyme supplements may be necessary to correct enzyme deficiency.