Bloating is a common symptom that women experience after eating and could be caused by the content of the food being consumed. There are many components of food that may react with the bacteria in your gut which produce symptoms such as gas, bloating, and changes in stool function. Continue reading to learn how gluten may be the culprit behind your symptoms of bloating after meals.
Bloating After a Meal
One of the biggest complaints among individuals with small intestinal problems is feeling bloated all of the time. There are several explanations for why bloating can occur including reacting to certain sugars and/or proteins found in the foods you eat, having dysbiosis present, not chewing foods adequately, being lactose intolerant, and increasing dietary fiber too fast, among others!
One of the most common reasons for bloating after meals is bacteria found in your small intestine reacting to natural sugars found in foods called FODMAPs - Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols. But, that’s not the only part of food that may be contributing to your bloat. Certain proteins found in foods, such as gluten or wheat agglutinin can contribute to feeling bloated after meals.
The latter is an example of a condition called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). And, if you’ve ruled out common “low-hanging fruit” reasons for bloating such as not chewing your foods properly or a meal with high sodium content, NCGS could be to blame. For the purposes of this blog, we will be discussing NCGS. The question, “Can gluten cause bloating?” will finally be answered.
Patients who suffer from Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity are no strangers to misaligned gut sensations. Gluten is a seemingly innocuous molecule - one of several proteins found in wheat-containing grains such as wheat, barley, and rye; but, for gluten-sensitive individuals, the consumption of gluten can lead to several symptoms, not all confined to the gastrointestinal tract.
Common Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
Bloating: As mentioned earlier, gluten intolerance can lead to abdominal bloating, discomfort, and gas.
Diarrhea or Constipation: Some individuals with gluten intolerance experience changes in their bowel movements, swinging between diarrhea and constipation.
Fatigue: Chronic fatigue is a common symptom of gluten intolerance and can be attributed to the picture of “leaky gut”.
Brain Fog: Gluten intolerance may cause cognitive issues such as poor concentration and memory problems.
Joint and Muscle Pain: Unexplained joint and muscle pain may be related to gluten intolerance due to “leaky gut”.
Mood Disturbances: Individuals with gluten sensitivity might experience mood swings and depression, which can further affect those already dealing with depression.
Ways to Reduce Bloating After Meals
If you suspect that gluten, gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity may be contributing to your symptoms of bloat, there are several interventions you can try to find relief.
Make sure to chew your food. Aim for 20-30 chews each bite of food you take into your mouth. Proper chewing of food helps to jumpstart the rest of your digestion and can ease feelings of bloat after meals.
Remove gluten and all gluten-containing products from your diet for 3 months (and then reintroduce). This intervention will take the guesswork out of knowing or not knowing if gluten causes you to bloat.
Explore foods that reduce bloating such as ginger, peppermint, fennel, and probiotic sources like Greek yogurt and
PRO TIP: Sipping on ginger tea after meals can ease feelings of digestive discomfort
Experiment with taking Betaine HCl or digestive enzymes.
Caution: Taking Betaine HCl is contraindicated in those who suffer from ulcers.
Work with a Functional Medicine-trained Nutritionist who specializes in gut health. They can help you determine if NCGS is present and help you create a treatment plan that will fit into your life.
Gluten can be quite the buzz-word, even today in 2023! While gluten intolerance and/or sensitivity can contribute to bloating and discomfort after meals, there could be something deeper going on that is causing the gluten sensitivity in the first place. It’s essential to work with a trusted healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan tailored to your unique needs and situation. By working with a functional medicine nutritionist, you will be better able to expand your diet as much as possible while avoiding offending foods unique to you. In some cases, you may even be able to enjoy small amounts of gluten once the root cause of why you were reactive to gluten is figured out! It can take some work up front, but the deeper understanding you can gain from understanding what caused your gluten sensitivity can be freeing and can help you feel your best.
Want help with your symptoms of bloat? Contact Bri for help.
Keep Calm and Feed Your Microbiome!
Certified Nutrition Specialist