This week we'll look at the difference between inflammation and bloating, and what can be done to mitigate these issues.
Inflammation and bloating are becoming increasingly common in westernized societies. However, just because something is common, does not mean that it is normal.
Let's look at inflammation first. In general, when we hear the word inflammation, we think of the visible swelling & redness and the feelings of warmth or heat and possibly pain.
However, inflammation can occur anywhere in the body; and may be visible to the naked eye or can occur without you even knowing.
From the perspective of nutrition, there are many foods that can cause, or contribute to inflammation.
Here's a look at the common offenders;
If one was allergic to any of these the foods, the inflammatory process could start immediately after contact.
More commonly, this inflammation begins when the irritating foods enter the intestinal tract and cause the lining to become inflamed due to interfering with beneficial bacteria or encouraging the growth of harmful bacteria.
These foods can also introduce toxins and other compounds that damage the cells that line the bowel.
This localized inflammation may go unnoticed, or can cause digestive issues like pain, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, or diarrhea.
If offending foods repeatedly irritate the intestinal lining (by frequently eating the foods listed above, for example) the intestinal lining can become compromised and become "leaky". When this happens undigested food particles, toxins and other waste can pass through the intestinal wall and into the general circulation. This can lead to body wide, or systemic inflammation.
This systemic inflammation can show up as acne or other skin issues, headaches, fatigue, aches & pains, brain fog and more.
So let's now turn to bloating.
Bloating is just one symptom that can be related to the inflammation caused by consuming foods that do not support our health.
Bloating can be short lived, like when we eat too much, and after a bit of time the bloating subsides and the body is able to recover all by itself.
Or bloating can be ongoing. This may be caused by consistently including offending foods in our diet, or can be caused by issues like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO occurs when bacteria that should live in your large intestines travels up into your small intestine (where there should be very little bacteria, if any at all) and interferes with our digestion. SIBO can commonly be mis-diagnosed as IBS, crohns, colitis and other bowel diseases, but fortunately can be eliminated with targeted treatment focusing on certain foods, as well as herbal supplements, antibiotics or both.
The best way we can avoid bloating and inflammation is to choose real, whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. While this can look a little different for everyone, the best place to start is to focus on Meats, Fish, Seafood, Eggs, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts & Seeds (fresh & raw), and quality Fats & Oils (pastured butter or ghee, lard, tallow, schmaltz, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado & avocado oil, macadamia oil)
These are in general the most nutrient dense, well tolerated, health promoting foods.
From here you can decide whether you want to add-in or cut-out additional foods as per your personal preferences and how you feel. It may be necessary to involved a nutritionist, like myself, in order to create a meal plan that targets your individual needs and preferences.
In conclusion, inflammation and bloating are common issues, but ones that can be well supported through choosing foods that your body thrives on.
Get in touch if you have questions about your own inflammation or bloating.
Hartwig, D & Hartwig, M. (2012). It starts with food. Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing.
Kresser, C. (2013). The paleo cure. New York, NY: Little, Brown and company.
Perlmutter, D. (2013). Grain brain. New York, NY: Little, Brown Spark.
Perrault, D. (2015). Nutritional symptomology; Handbook for CSNN students. Richmond Hill, ON: CSNN Publishing.
Sanfillipo, D. (2016). Practical paleo. Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing Inc.