Looking like you’re 6 months pregnant and living in your stretchy pants is a sign something is up. 

It could be a food your body doesn’t like, gut bug imbalance, need for digestive enzymes, slow gut motility or fibroids in the uterus. 

Either way – investigating it further is crucial for your health and sanity!

Sleuthing it out takes a little bit of data collection…

…yet the information you gather will be priceless.

To determine what’s got you bloating you want to start first with the time frame in which it started.

#1 – What was going on in your life then?

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Assess your habits, routines and behaviors – what happened in that time frame the bloating started – any changes, any new things introduced?

Stress counts as do dietary changes. 

Cutting out certain foods, introducing new ones or eating different than your normal pattern can cause shifts in your microbiome.

For example, you were eating keto then started adding in a few carbs and boom bloating started.

Or life got busier and you started to eat on the go or rely on fast food more.

Perhaps your period started to get funky and you noticed bloating certain times in your cycle. 

When estrogen is elevated or lowered it’s common to have bloating – track when these show up to know what’s happening.

Excess progesterone can also cause bloating. 

If you just started bio-identical hormone replacement and bloating started – note this!

Subtle changes can have huge impacts. 

#2 – When does the bloating show up?

If you’re constipated, step one is to get the bowels moving and that may eliminate the bloat.

Castor oil packs and Natural Calm – magnesium citrate 325-1,000 mg a night are great starts for daily bowel movers. 

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Once the bowel is moving then assess the bloat further. 

After eating for 1-3 hours or during eating? (could be decreased stomach acid, enzymes or eating too fast)

Mid-to end of the day? (could be decreased digestive enzymes, eating too fast, microbial imbalance)

Upon waking? (yeast overgrowth, parasites – especially if waking up early AM)

#3 – Where do you feel it?

  • Left upper abdomen  – stomach or colon (if right away stomach issue, H Pylori, food allergy or sensitivity, if later in the day or evening = colon)
  • Right upper abdomen – liver, gallbladder, colon (if 3-5 hours after eating gallbladder/liver, if late in day/evening = colon)
  • Right lower abdomen – appendix, iliocecal valve, colon (junction between small and large intestine) – microbial overgrowth, lymphatic back up, right ovary
  • Left lower abdomen – colon – microbial overgrowth, intestinal lining inflammation, colitis, constipation, left ovary
  • Around the belly button – food sensitivity, small intestine bowel overgrowth
  • Below the belly button – uterine, rectum/sigmoid colon

Knowing a little bit of your anatomy is key to sleuth out the source of the bloat.

#4 – What do you do?

You could take the information you’ve collected to a functional medicine practitioner that is well versed in gut health. 

Or based on where the bloating is located and the circumstances in which it shows up consider adjusting how you eat, the foods you’re eating, trying enzymes or a broad spectrum antimicrobial such as oregano oil or a blend of essential oils.

If you’re like me, you may want to opt for going straight to testing.

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Say you’ve connected your bloating with your period, menopause or hormone replacement – then I recommend doing some hormone metabolism testing using the DUTCH test to know if the liver, cells or gut are also involved in your bloat.

Estrogen metabolism in the gut can be thrown off my a microbial imbalance and excessive beta glucoronidase in the gut. 

Taking Calcium D Glucarate (CDG) at 500-1000 mg a day can help this immensely. 

If it seems like its digestive in nature, consider a test that shows possible imbalances in your microbiome based on urine metabolites.

An Organic Acids Test (OAT) test like the Metabolomix by Genova Diagnostics or Mosaic Diagnostics would be great options.

You can order the Metabolomix on your own using Genova Diagnostic’s website or go through a functional medicine practitioner for either of the tests I’ve mentioned. 

If testing isn’t your thing then you can sequentially work on overall gut health by following my basic gut rebooting health protocol…

  1. Eat an organic closest to nature diet that is grain (think corn/wheat etc), soy, dairy, sugar free, use expeller pressed high quality olive, avocado or unrefined coconut oil for cooking for 30 days
  2. Sit down for each meal – chew for 20-25 times per bite
  3. Sip on room temperature water with meals
  4. Stop eating by 7p and start your first meal after 7a – at least 12 hours between meals (fasting up to 16-21 hours may be beneficial as well)
  5. Castor oil packs to the liver and abdomen 20 minutes each day x 14 days
  6. Re-introduce sugar, dairy, corn, soy, wheat, other grains – one at a time every 72 hours and see if bloating changes

If no change doing the above for 2 weeks try out an HCL Challenge to assess for stomach acid deficiency. 

  • Test your ability to make stomach acid – take one capsule of Betaine HCL 480-680 mg with one meal
  • Then the second meal take two
  • For the following meal take three
  • Continue with one extra capsule till you either have a slight burning in your stomach or you reach 5 capsules.
  • If you get to 5 capsules and no burn with meals you are deficient in stomach acid.
  • If you get a burn with 1 capsule you’re not deficient or you didn’t have at least 10 grams of protein in that meal.
  • Neutralize the burn 1 tsp of baking soda in 8-12 oz of water.
  • You need at least 10 grams of protein per meal to utilize the capsules and taking up to 5 per meal may be needed to help reduce bloat.
  • It’s best to consult a professional to walk you through this effectively.

If no change with stomach acid supplementation consider a liver detox with Quicksilver Scientific’s Push Catch protocol to clear out a bogged down liver.

And if you’re still bloating after a liver detox then go to an oregano oil or other antimicrobial essential oil blend like Candibactin-AR by Metagenics. 

Pair the anti-microbial with a biofilm scrubber, an agent that will help get the non-beneficial organisms off the gut lining easier.

I like nano-silver and diatomaceous earth for lining scrubbing. 

After one bottle (generally a month) of an antimicrobial agent and a biofilm scrubber the next step is to replenish your microbiome.

I use the Healthy Start system by Natren Probiotics or in certain cases I have clients make their own yogurt. 

Lactobacillus bulgaricus is one strain of probiotic that Natren Probiotics sells as a yogurt starter, there are other companies out there.

As always, consulting with a professional may be wise when adding in beneficial bacteria.  

Keep in mind that eating an organic, non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms), closest to nature diet while you’re working on your bloat is crucial as this takes a great deal of chemicals that mess with the liver and digestion out of the equation. 

As you can see there are are a lot of sequences that are possible with gut health restoration.

The most important thing to do when you have bloating is to start taking notes on yourself as the more data you have the better your medical practitioner will be able to identify which direction to head in to resolve your bloating.

Bloating can be annoying and tricky to sleuth out. 

If you have a uterus make sure to see your gynecologist to ensure there’s nothing going on there before you go through a long drawn out gut health rabbit hole. 

I hope to save you time and frustration in the long run. 

Here’s to sleuthing out your digestion and having a happy belly!

Here’s to your health,

Dr. J

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