Why You Bloat More After Age 45
Bloating is generally the result of not being able to digest foods properly. These not-so-digested foods feel as if they’re just sitting there causing discomfort and may produce a general feeling of being stuffed and “gassy.”
It can happen at any age, but if it seems to be more frequent as you’re getting older, it may be because of your stomach’s reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion.
Normally when we eat, cells in our stomach release more acid which is important for many digestive processes such as breaking down foods and activating enzymes.
As we age, this procedure becomes less efficient and this can have a wide-ranging effect on all of our digestion abilities “downstream.” And bloating may result.
Bloating Reason #1:
Sometimes our bodies are (or become more as we age) sensitive to the fiber in certain fruits or vegetables. This can occur, too, when we introduce new fruits and veggies into our diet as it may take a while for our body to get used to them.
Suggestion: Try chewing your vegetables more thoroughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones. If you notice consistently that eating a specific fruit or veggie appears to relate to your bloating, try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.
Bloating Reason #2:
Decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme known as “pepsin.” This means that the proteins you eat aren’t broken down as much, and they can pass through your system somewhat “undigested.”
Suggestion: You may consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat to see if that helps.
Bloating Reason #3
One thing that can be a major cause of bloating is when your digestive system slows down. Then things seem to be a bit stagnant with food hanging around in there a bit (a lot?) longer than you’d like.
Ginger has been found to help with digestion and reduce nausea for certain people. And peppermint is thought to help your digestive muscles keep pushing food through, so it doesn’t stay in one spot for too long.
Suggestion: Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger.
Bloating Reason #4:
All this lack of digesting in your stomach and small intestine puts extra stress on the large intestine. The large intestine is the home of all of your wonderful gut microbes that have SO many functions in the body.
The problem is when undigested food enters the large intestine, it can feed the not-so-great microbes. These “unfriendly” bacteria produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism.
The more of these microbes you have in your system (they will multiply, if they are constantly being fed by undigested food in the large intestine), the more gas that will be produced in the large intestine.
Suggestion: Try eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system to keep the bad guys at bay.
This includes things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these don’t cause bloating for you!). Make sure they’re unpasteurized and contain live cultures.
If you cannot tolerate dairy-based yogurt and kefir, dairy-free options are available, or you could make your own dairy-free versions.
You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement. Check the label first though to make sure it’s right for you.
Bloating Reason #5:
In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food, they need to be activated. This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid.
When stomach acid is reduced, “activation” of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them) will be reduced as well.
Suggestion: You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on reestablishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!).
But before you do, make sure you read the labels because some enzyme supplements interact with other supplements, medications, or conditions, and may not be safe for long-term use.
If bloating is a serious problem, you should see your doctor or alternative health care practitioner.