stomach bloating and functional medicine

Can Functional Medicine help with stomach bloating?

Stomach Bloating

Abdominal bloating is a common symptom that can appear at any age. There are many different causes. It can be associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders, hormonal imbalances or food reactions.

Typically bloating is experienced as abdominal distention and a feeling of fullness or tightness. It can also be associated with discomfort or pain. Pains that are caused by bloating feel sharp and can cause cramping in the stomach or abdomen. These pains may occur anywhere in the body and can change location quickly. This pain may be mistaken for problems with the heart, gallbladder or appendix.

The first step in managing bloating it to identify the underlying causes.

Common causes of stomach bloating are:

  • Lactose intolerance, fructose intolerance and other food intolerances
  • Premenstrual syndrome or hormonal imbalances
  • Food allergy
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity
  • Constipation
  • Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.
  • Intestinal infection e.g. by parasites
  • An imbalance in the friendly bacteria in the gut.
  • A lack of digestive enzymes
  • Low stomach acid
  • Diverticulosis – a condition where small pockets form in the bowel wall which can trap food, leading to pain and bloating.

Some of the causes of your stomach bloating will be identified in a standard medical work up, and may be manageable with a specific medical diet or anti-spasmodic medication. However, for others, the cause of their bloating remains undiagnosed and symptoms are ongoing.

This is where functional medicine can help with stomach bloating.

A functional medicine consultation always includes a full dietary assessment. This can help to uncover and foods, drinks or lifestyle practices that may be exacerbating bloating. It also allows evaluation of factors such as fibre and fluid intake which can contribute to constipation and abdominal distention.

A comprehensive digestive stool analysis and other functional gastrointestinal tests can help to pinpoint digestive infections and imbalances in digestive function or gut flora that might be leading to bloating. These tests are much broader than the standard medical stool tests and can help uncover the fundamental variances responsible for the abdominal distention and discomfort. These can then be addressed with a program of diet changes and supplements to restore gastrointestinal function.

A personalised guided elimination diet can help to ascertain which foods may be exacerbating bloating.  A unique nutrition program can then be designed to eliminate symptoms, with delicious alternatives that ensure adequate intakes of all the key nutrients.

Functional medicine can also assess for hormone imbalances that contribute to abdominal distention. Imbalances in oestrogen and progesterone, or an excess of the stress hormone cortisol can contribute to abdominal water retention and weight gain. Once identified, diet and lifestyle changes that support hormonal balance can be implemented.

For a list of other complaints that can be helped with Functional Medicine please visit our Conditions we help page or contact us today