Bloating 101: It’s Not Just a Little Symptom

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by Dr. David Pollack

You’re not alone. One of the most common symptoms that brings my patients together is this almost silly symptom of bloating. It sounds like just a pest, not a real problem. Many women rate their bloating and distention as if they were in late months of a pregnancy. The actual complexities of what bloating is, where it’s coming from, and the extremely serious problem it can cause and that it relates to are far and wide. bloating-thumb

Bloating is the sensation of discomfort and pressure or physical manifestation of distention in the abdomen. Some equate bloating to “fat,” but that is not so. Though persistent bloating may cause weight gain, bloating is primarily a digestive issue, but it may relate to other systems of the body.

Most bloating is caused by gas build-up in the gut, specifically the small intestines. Many ask, “Where does the gas come from?” The gas is produced by a variety of different organisms living in our small intestines, mostly a combination of bacteria and fungi that “ferment” our food. Fermentation is a process used to make bread or beer. It is also a process that occurs during digestion. Our body produces micro-organisms to convert sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide and a variety of other compounds. This fermentation process can cause the production of many toxic compounds. Different organisms produce different toxins. Some yeasts, like the candida family, can affect such wide-reaching areas as joints, cognition, and even fertility, among many others.

The small intestine is a very important organ, with far-reaching functions well beyond digestion. The small intestine contains upwards of 70 percent of the body’s entire immune system. Bloating may be causing mild to severe changes in the function of our immune system by constantly causing over activation and keeping it awash in the previously discussed toxicity.

Other forms of bloating may be from hormone effects from the reproductive system, such as estrogen and progesterone imbalances. Women with menstrual imbalances often feel, and even see, these effects. Imbalances of the thyroid hormones can also cause bloating, mild to extreme. Overlooked, there are deep connections between anxiety, depression and other mood imbalances and the gut. The small intestine is the site of manufacture of more than 50 percent of the body’s vast system of neurotransmitters. These are the compounds that create and influence our thoughts. This can be considered a two-way street. Anxiety and depression can cause bloating, and the reverse bloating can cause anxiety or depression.

One of the most powerful ways to combat a digestive problem is through the use of plant-based digestive enzymes. Enzymes, which are natural proteins present throughout the digestive tract, are the tools that perform the actual breakdown of our food in order to extract nutrients. Using the proper forms and dosages of enzymes can be a major part of reducing the bloat and rebuilding the digestive tract by helping ensure the proper and complete digestion of our food. Even good, healthy food can cause bloating; and, in fact, “healthy” food, like kale and other vegetables, may cause more bloating in a poorly functioning digestive tract than some less desirable foods, like many of the carbohydrates, in some. We find some that have significant bloating with raw vegetable sensitivities gravitate to carbs. Others may be strongly carb sensitive, due to bacterial or yeast imbalances, and can’t find any calming foods, at times resorting to skipping meals to feel good.

Enzyme therapy, acupuncture, detoxification, dietary therapies, moxibustion and a variety of related therapies can help speed the healing of the body and remove any blockages or impediments to the system.

Source: Dr. David Pollack, of Pollack Wellness Institute, located at 66 Commack Rd., Ste. 204, Commack. For more information, call 631-462-0801 or visit

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