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Why Do I Still Have Bloating Even If My Labs Are "Normal?"

Unraveling the Mystery of Bloating Beyond Normal Labs.


Jan 19, 2024

 

Bloating is a common issue, if not the #1 issue that my patients come to see me for, which impacts their daily lives and overall well-being. One of the most classic statements that my patients tell me is "my primary care doctor or specialist told me my labs are normal, so why am I still having bloating?"



As a naturopathic doctor with a focus on gut health, I work with individuals to delve deeper into possible reasons behind the persistent bloating. Even when conventional labs appear "normal," bloating is a sign that your gut function is not doing so well. We'll discuss the significance of a comprehensive stool test in unraveling the mysteries of gut health.


1 - Incomplete Picture from Standard Labs: Standard lab tests often are a tiny scratch of the surface of our health. When they are abnormal, it can tell us a little bit about what may be going on, but often they may not capture the intricacies of our gut function. Normal blood tests may not detect subtle imbalances or dysregulation within the digestive system that could contribute to bloating!


2 - Microbiome Imbalance: If you aren't already familiar with the gut microbiome, it plays a crucial role in our digestion and overall health. An imbalance in the microbial community can lead to bloating, whether some of them are overgrowing or under-growing. This is a condition that is commonly called as intestinal dysbiosis. A specialty and functional test, the comprehensive stool test, can identify the presence of harmful bacteria, yeast or bacterial overgrowth, or imbalances in beneficial bacteria, providing a more nuanced understanding of the gut microbiome.


3 - Digestive Enzyme Deficiency: Sometimes, the body may lack certain digestive enzymes needed to break down specific foods. Intestinal dysbiosis can also impact your digestive enzymes, creating a situation where there is not enough digestive enzymes! This can result in undigested food particles reaching the colon, where the gut bacteria have to work harder to try digesting these particles. As they work on the food particle, they produce a significant amount of gas, leading to bloating and sometimes even distension. The comprehensive stool test can also assess the levels of digestive enzymes, shedding light on potential deficiencies.


4 - Inflammatory Bowel Conditions: Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may not always manifest with abnormalities in standard lab tests. Even those with IBD conditions (such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) in remission, the gut microbiome in these individuals are already in an imbalanced state due to the integrity of their intestines. The comprehensive stool test can detect markers of inflammation and assess the overall health of the gastrointestinal tract.


5 - Stress on Gut inflammation: It's not a surprise that stress has an impact on our body (and why we always say stress is a #1 killer). When stress increases, it has a negative impact on the gut that can lead to digestive issues. But stress can also induce release endotoxins in your bloodstream and low-grade inflammation in the gut. When these endotoxins are in the gut, they damage your intestinal cells and the barrier integrity, leading to symptoms like bloating.


6 - Gut Permeability (Leaky Gut): Increased intestinal permeability, commonly known as leaky gut, can contribute to bloating. A stool test can evaluate markers associated with gut barrier function, helping identify issues that may not be apparent through standard labs.


BONUS TIP: Food sensitivities can occur when there is leaky gut present. Even seemingly innocuous food items can trigger bloating. This is because when there is leaky gut, these food particles escape the intestine which then flags the immune system. Our immune system does a very great job, so it starts creating antibodies to these food particle (such as tomato, egg, almonds, etc).


Conclusion: In the pursuit of optimal gut health, it's essential to look beyond routine lab results when addressing persistent bloating. A comprehensive stool test provides valuable insights into the intricacies of the gut microbiome, digestive function, and potential underlying issues that may contribute to bloating. By adopting a holistic approach that considers the unique aspects of an individual's gut health, naturopathic doctors can offer personalized and effective solutions to alleviate bloating and promote overall well-being.


Make sure to work with a provider who is familiar with tests like the comprehensive stool test to guide you through your results and proper & precise treatment plan. And as always, if you ever need a naturopathic doctor on your team for your best health EVER, schedule a visit with Dr. Jung!


Happy journey to the best gut health ever!


 

DISCLAIMER:

THIS POST DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT. THE CONTENTS OF THIS POST ARE FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE CONTENT IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF A PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH PROVIDER WITH ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE REGARDING A MEDICAL CONDITION. ALWAYS SPEAK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER HEALTHCARE PROVIDER BEFORE TAKING ANY MEDICATION OR NUTRITIONAL/HERBAL/HOMEOPATHIC SUPPLEMENT, OR ADOPTING ANY TREATMENT FOR A HEALTH PROBLEM. INFORMATION AND STATEMENTS REGARDING DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS AVAILABLE ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE. NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY IN SEEKING IT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON THIS POST.

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