office (602) 266-4670

906 West McDowell Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85007

Center For Natural Medicine                   


Center For Natural Medicine Newsletter )
The Battle of the Bulge or How to Beat Bloating August 2006
in this issue
  • Food intolerance is the number one cause of bloating.
  • Find time to Relax.
  • Keep things moving.
  • Managing hormonal water retention.
  • “I blew it” and I’m bloated, Now what?


    The Dreaded bloat may come with a meal or as part of a hormone cycle. If your clothes suddenly won’t zip, or you keep an extra set of clothes the next size up read on. If some meals make your stomach feel like a tight balloon, there are ways to deflate.

    new dana pic
    Dr. Dana Keaton
      Food intolerance is the number one cause of bloating.

    Some bodies manage most all foods without trouble where others bloat up with only the slightest indiscretion or minimal amounts of gas. Foods that are not broken down well in the upper intestines will end up fermenting in the lower intestines. This fermentation produces gas.

    Record what you eat to gain clues as to what aggravates you. Look for associations with some of the more common food aggravators.

    Dairy can cause enormous problems in the lactose sensitive person. Many of us lack enzymes (lactase) that break down dairy. Lactaid Milk helps some people. If even cheese and yogurt are problematic try using enzymes such as Dairy Ease or Similase when you eat dairy. It is better to find alternatives and avoid dairy products. If you tolerate soy products there are many soy substitutes for milk that still provide calcium. Try a week without dairy and see what the results are.

    High fiber foods like beans or oat bran and even certain vegetables are problems in some peoples’ intestines. Classic trouble sources are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, garlic and cucumbers. I hope you are thinking: “Wait those are healthy foods”. These and other vegetables are necessary to health. The problem is often insufficient enzymes. Decrease the amount of high fiber foods you eat at one sitting and you may be able to develop over time better enzyme production. In the meantime begin taking enzymes such as Similase with your meals.

    If recording what you eat still leaves you confused about where the blowup is coming from consider testing. Many of my patients over the years have had tremendous success stories by following a plan based on a blood test. We draw your blood and send it to a lab where it is tested against 100 foods to evaluate for chronic immune reactions in your body. Reactions to foods you may eat every day are difficult to assess with food records. The blood test can tell you where to focus your food selection changes

    Find time to Relax.

    Chronic stress can decrease acid production in the stomach. With low acid all the other digestive enzymes are deficient. Without stomach acid enzyme digestion is impaired and food ferments below creating a belly full of gas.

    Try new or old ways to relax such as sports, hobbies, yoga, a good book, chat with a friend, or allow yourself 10 minutes of meditation.

    While I am speaking of relaxation I should mention how important it is to relax while eating. Swallowing air can cause gas too. Air can be swallowed if you talk while you eat, or gulp down your food. Chewing gum and drinking from a bottle or through a straw can also cause air to be swallowed.

    Carbonated beverages can increase gas. Try drinking herbal teas, hot or iced, and sip to enjoy. If you gulp rather than chew your food the digestive process does not get started correctly and guess what, The undigested food ferments.

    Keep things moving.

    Fiber helps the colon move things (including gas) out of the system. Nothing guarantees gas like constipation. High fat foods (such as cheese and meats) will slow the digestion. I mentioned earlier that high fiber can ferment and cause gas. So how do you find a balance? Add something like ground flax meal starting with small amounts and increase gradually. Start increasing fruit and less gas producing vegetables such as carrots and spinach as you decrease high fat foods. Similase can help as you transition.

    If you must sit much of the day it will help to take short walk breaks. This will allow trapped gas to move.

    Aerobic type exercise such as hiking, swimming or playing tennis will help keep things moving inside too. Three or four workouts a week are suggested. Exercise increases the metabolism and helps to reduce fat mass at the belly as well. Sit ups are a great solution. Try working up to 50 or 100 sit ups before you dress in the morning.

    Managing hormonal water retention.

    Water retention can cause 5 or more pounds to pop on overnight. Diuretics and over the counter “water pills” can be hard on the kidneys and cause dry mouth. If your fingers, breasts or ankles swell periodically it is a sure sign edema is contributing to your weight gain.

    First try not salting your food. Avoid processed food and take out which is generally loaded with salt. Drink more water. While this sounds contradictory it is not. When you drink more water it helps the body eliminate salt in the cells. Water follows the salt out of the cells and they begin to “deflate”.

    Avoiding foods from your intolerant list also reduces water retention. Many of my patients achieve rapid sustained weight loss by following their Immunolab food intolerance test results.

    Supplements can be helpful. Vitamin B6 at doses of 50mg. to 100 mg. can be effective. The clinic has a combination of diuretic herbs in capsule form. Some people do well with Taraxacum leaf (not root) alone. If the water retention is severe begin taking two caps of the herb three times a day. Reduce the amount and frequency of the capsules after you achieve results. One cap a day is often sufficient for maintenance.

    “I blew it” and I’m bloated, Now what?

    When all else fails you can still absorb the gas. Charcoal is able to absorb gas present in the system. Take one capsule “GasX” as indicated on the label. This is available at most drug stores. Our office sells plain charcoal caps. Take one to three capsules depending on the degree of bloating.

    Charcoal is not absorbed and it is non toxic therefore it is very safe. It will absorb toxins that may be causing irritation in addition to the gas. The down side is that charcoal will absorb your vitamins or medications so use it only as needed. Relief usually comes within the hour.