How an Unbalanced Microbiome Leads to Bloating & Intestinal Gas

How an Unbalanced Microbiome Leads to Bloating & Intestinal Gas

  • Gut Health

  • By Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian

    Everybody toots.

    In fact, the average person will pass gas about a dozen times a day. Passing gas is evidence that you are eating, and that you have bacteria in your gut. Since both of these factors are necessary for a healthy life, the presence of gas should be something we’re happy about!

    Of course, this is not always the case. Many people live with bloating, discomfort and excessive (or smelly!) gas. When gas becomes a source of embarrassment or is accompanied by uncomfortable abdominal distention, you probably are feeling less than enthusiastic about your situation.

    First things first: if you have significant ongoing digestive issues, always see your health care practitioner to rule out any serious underlying causes. Beyond that, if you’re generally eating well and exercising, yet still can't reduce the gas, you might want to consider steps to get your inner fermenters under control.


    How Bacteria Contribute to Intestinal Gas

    Gas in the human gut comes from a few different places1:

    1. The gas we swallow
    2. The carbon dioxide (CO2) produced when the acidic contents of the stomach hit the alkaline secretions in the small intestine
    3. Fermentation of gut contents by the gut bacteria, or microbiota

    The trillions of bacteria that live in your gut are a diverse group; they enjoy different foods and produce different fermentation products in response to what they eat. The vast majority of the gas in the gut is comprised of varying levels of methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen from the bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates1. All of those indigestible carbohydrates, from wheat bran to lactose (if you’re lactose intolerant), travel on through your gut to become a feast for your gut flora. And when bacteria feast, they pass gas...and so do you.

    Generally speaking this is a good thing: if we are eating high fibre foods that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, it helps keep our guts, immune and nervous systems healthy. Of course, it’s true that some foods tend to be more gas producing than others – take broccoli or beans, for example. The good news? The more you consume these foods, the less likely they are to cause you discomfort. The reason for this is that your gut bacteria are remarkably adaptive; capable of doubling every 20 minutes, each meal creates a flux in their communities – and over time, whatever you consistently eat will shape the community of bacteria that sit at your digestive dinner table. So, the solution for getting gassy after eating healthy foods like beans? Continue to eat them in moderate portions and wait for your gut bacteria to adapt.


    Not All Bacteria – or Gas – Is Created Equal

    When happy little fermenters are doing their thing, gas should be a relative non-issue. However, some types of bacteria may lead to challenges with gas and feelings of bloating. For example, one group of bacteria called methanogens make methane gas which slows down the rate at which your gut moves. Some evidence suggests that bloating may not be caused by excessive gas production – but the poor movement of gas2, 3. When you’re constipated or sluggish, this makes sense: the gas can’t escape, so it expands the gut space.

    You also have another type of bacteria, called sulphate-reducing bacteria that - you guessed it - like to munch on sulphur molecules found in meat protein4. In doing so, they produce a sulphur-smelling gas called hydrogen sulphide, which is also associated with promoting inflammation when present at high levels4.


    Tipping the Scales Towards an Unhappy Gut

    How do you go from not noticing the passing of wind to being at siege with your gut? Your community of gut bacteria are always in flux; in as little as 24 hours, your lifestyle can start changing. So dietary changes, stress or travel can do a number on the healthy balance of gut bacteria. It’s normal to have troublesome gas or bloating every once in a while in response to a temporary change; however, if once in a while is becoming your every day, you may want to consider getting serious about your gut flora.

    As bacteria are doing the fermenting and creating the gas, helping to restore balance to the community with probiotics might be a sound strategy. In the research, probiotics have been shown effective for treating digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating5. How is this possible? Beneficial bacterial species like Lactobacillus acidophilus tend to be good at fighting off more harmful species – allowing a harmonious balance to be restored in the gut6. Good bacteria help lower gut pH, which promotes the growth of happier gut bacteria and create these ingenious little molecules called bacteriocins that can kill off other less friendly bacteria. The result? A gut that behaves more like it’s old self. Each bottle of Bio-K+, with its 50 billion live and active Lactobacillus cultures, have been shown effective at improving gas and bloating contributed to imbalances in the gut flora6.


    Gas and bloating are a normal part of life…until they aren’t. A clinically tested probiotic like Bio-K+ allows you to fight back with bac. Bio-K+ is your ally in restoring peace to your microbiota.


    Do you have other questions on digestive health, gas and bloating? Let us know in comments below. If you are looking to stock up on Bio-K+, head to our store locator. For more information on Bio-K+ and probiotics, join our communitycontact us or find us on Facebook and Instagram.



    1. Scaldaferri, F. R. A. N. C. O., et al. "Intestinal gas production and gastrointestinal symptoms: from pathogenesis to clinical implication."Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci17.Suppl 2 (2013): 2-10.
    1. Iovino, Paola et al. “Bloating and Functional Gastro-Intestinal Disorders: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?”World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG20.39 (2014): 14407–14419.PMC. Web. 29 Jan. 2018.
    1. Triantafyllou, Konstantinos, Christopher Chang, and Mark Pimentel. “Methanogens, Methane and Gastrointestinal Motility.”Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility20.1 (2014): 31–40. PMC. Web. 29 Jan. 2018.
    1. Kellingray, Lee et al. “Consumption of a Diet Rich inBrassicaVegetables Is Associated with a Reduced Abundance of Sulphate‐reducing Bacteria: A Randomised Crossover Study.” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 61.9 (2017): 1600992. PMC. Web. 29 Jan. 2018.
    1. Didari, Tina et al. “Effectiveness of Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Updated Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis.”World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG21.10 (2015): 3072–3084. PMC. Web. 29 Jan. 2018.
    1. Gao, Xing Wang, et al. "Dose–response efficacy of a proprietary probiotic formula of Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285 and Lactobacillus casei LBC80R for antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea prophylaxis in adult patients."The American journal of gastroenterology105.7 (2010): 1636.

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    Desiree Nielsen Registered Dietitian
    About the author
    Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian, author and host of the vegetarian cooking sshow, The Urban Vegetarian. Desiree takes an evidence-based, integrative approach to her dietetics work, with a focus on anti-inflammatory, plant-centredcentered nutrition and digestive health.
    View all articles by Desiree Nielsen
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