The digestive system is made up of is a group of organs working together to convert food into energy and basic nutrients to feed the entire body. This is called the digestive tract which is made from, in descending order, the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. All these organs are lined with a thin layer of “skin” called the mucosa. If this layer, from one person, was spread out it would cover a whole tennis court, yet it is only a quarter of the thickness of a piece of paper. The digestive tract also contains a layer of smooth muscle that helps break down food and move it along the tract.
The digestion of food is dependent on several factors including the type of food eaten, the efficiency of digestive enzymes in breaking down the food, the quality of the gut flora (bacteria) and the status of the mucosal layer. Certain foods are more likely to cause bloating. These are FODMAP foods (fermentable oligo, di- and mono saccharides and polyols); types of carbohydrates that are difficult to digest. These include foods based on lactose (milk sugar), fructose (corn syrup), fructans (wheat and some vegetables), sugar alcohols (some sweeteners and some fruits) and galactans (legumes). These foods are not easily digested and so travel down into the large intestine where they are fermented by the bacteria there and cause bloating.
If your natural digestive enzymes, automatically released into the digestive tract, are lacking in quality then foods will not be broken down properly and will again end up being fermented in the gut causing lots of gas. Similarly if the gut flora don’t have enough “good” bacteria the same problem will arise. It is important then to supplement with probiotics and digestive enzymes to help solve the problem.
The key reason though for getting bloating after eating is food intolerance. This relates to the status of the mucosal layer. If this layer is damaged then particles of food can make their way through into the blood stream causing an antibody reaction. These antibodies are type IgG and can be measured in the blood. The antibodies are made specifically to the foods that you are intolerant to and have been linked to inflammation in the body and bloating. You need to remove the foods identified by a food-specific IgG food intolerance test from your diet in order to stop the inflammation and bloating occuring.