Bloating and Gas: Reasons to Start Keeping a Food Journal
Bloating and gas can be embarrassing. Gas is a normal part of the digestive process, but when gas builds up in the gastrointestinal tract, it can cause bloating, pain, and discomfort. So, if gas is normal, what exactly causes it? There are numerous sources of gas and bloating, so let’s talk about a few of the causes.
Possible Causes of Bloating and Gas
During digestion, undigestible fiber molecules travel through the gastrointestinal tract and end up in the colon, mostly intact. These fibers can come from foods like whole grain bread, oats, or even from fruits and vegetables. The colon is home to trillions of bacteria that have the very important job of helping us digest fiber. Bacteria in the colon look at fiber like fast food and they use it for energy to survive.
Bacteria break down carbohydrates such as fibers by fermentation, which produces gas as a byproduct. The colony of bacteria in our colon changes all the time in response to our diet and certain medications, such as antibiotics. But the diverse composition of the microbiome of colonic bacteria is unique to each individual. For this reason, the same food can have opposite effects in two different individuals. So, for one individual, gas may be caused by eating broccoli and beans. For others, gas and bloating may be caused by eating apples and onions.
Another cause of bloating and gas is a condition known as Sucrose Intolerance caused by Congenital Sucrase Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID). CSID can cause bloating and gas when you ingest sucrose (table sugar). Sucrose is found in many foods, such as carrots, bread, cereals, bananas, and sweet potatoes. It is also added to a number of prepared foods to enhance flavor or add sweetness.
Tracking Your Symptoms and Dietary Intake
Before you can find a solution for your symptoms, you need to identify what’s causing them. One way is to track your symptoms and how they relate to your dietary intake by keeping a food journal. A food journal can be beneficial for you to link dietary habits with episodes of gas and bloating.
If you choose to keep a food journal, track things such as what you ate, when you ate, and how you felt before and after eating. Remember, that sometimes foods can cause a delayed reaction. So, if you eat lunch and immediately have gas and bloating, it could actually be your breakfast that is causing the problem! A food journal allows you to track for these delayed symptoms and make the food-symptom link.
You may experience gas and bloating for many reasons. Often, these symptoms are the result of foods you eat. Some of you are sensitive to certain carbohydrates like whole grains, apples, and onions. Others may be sensitive to sucrose or have Sucrose Intolerance caused by CSID.
Keeping a detailed food journal helps you understand the correlation between your dietary intake and the resulting symptoms. Armed with this journal, you can visit your doctor to discuss the symptoms, possible causes, and possible treatments. You can even take a quick quiz to help you prepare for your visit. (Note: This quiz is not a diagnostic. Only a doctor can diagnose you).
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