You know that pain you get in your stomach after a meal? It can put a damper on your day, your productivity, social life, and leave you wondering what went wrong.
That was the case for gutTogether® client, Jane. She’s a high-performing businesswoman who used to dread going to work every day because of her chronic stomach pain. She would struggle to focus on her tasks and would often have to cancel important meetings due to the discomfort.
Her condition was not only affecting her work life, but also her personal life. She would decline social invitations and avoid going out with friends because she never knew when her stomach pain would strike.
The thing with stomach pains, is that it’s not always just gas. There are many reasons why it happens and in this blog, we’ll take a look at five common causes of gastric upset and explore how they might be affecting your digestion.
- Low Stomach Acid: The Silent Culprit
Low stomach acid is WAY more common than you think. Often time individuals will go to the doctor for gas, bloating and acid reflux symptoms, be put on a PPI or acid reducing medication, and are told they have “too much stomach acid”. It may actually be the opposite!
Contrary to what you might think, having low stomach acid can lead to indigestion and discomfort. When the acid levels in your stomach are inadequate, it can hinder the proper breakdown of food, causing the bloating, gas, and pain.
Low levels of stomach acid can be caused by:
- Aging – starting at about age 30 your acid production naturally declines
- H. pylori infection – this bacteria can cause chronic low-grade ulcers in your digestive tract which reduces the amount of acid produced by your parietal cells (the cells that produce hydrochloric acid)
- Stress- when you are stressed, your body’s production of stomach acid decreases and this impacts the entire digestive process
One effective method to treat low stomach acid is by incorporating more bitter foods into your routine (ex: arugula, dandelion root, dark chocolate, etc). You can also use digestive bitters before meals.
In addition to this, the best way to improve your stomach acid production is to actually “rest and digest” before eating. Simply take 3 deep breaths, hum happy birthday twice, or engage is some sort of stress reduction technique that will allow your digestive juices to get flowing.
- Slow Gut Motility and Constipation
Another potential cause of post-meal stomach pain is slow gut motility and constipation. When the movement of food through your digestive system slows down, it can lead to discomfort and a feeling of fullness. Additionally, constipation can exacerbate these symptoms.
Constipation can be triggered by various things including:
- Too much/too little fiber
- Stress (diverts blood flow away from the gut)
- Food poisoning that leads to nerve damage in the gut
- An imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut
- Poor digestion including low stomach acid, poor pancreatic output or poor bile flow
- Poor Meal Hygiene
Practicing meal hygiene is crucial for proper digestion and minimizing stomach discomfort. Eating in a rushed or stressed state can interfere with the body’s ability to digest food effectively and actually decreases the production of stomach acid. Chew your food thoroughly, savor each bite, and create a calm and relaxed eating environment.
Try your best to avoid distractions like screens or multitasking during meals. These small but impactful changes can significantly improve your digestion and reduce post-meal stomach pain.
- Bacterial Imbalances
The bacteria in our guts are responsible for breaking down food and producing nutrients that our bodies need to function properly. When these bacteria get out of whack, they can cause symptoms like bloating or gas–and even lead to more serious issues like inflammation or autoimmune diseases.
The gut is home to trillions of bacteria, both beneficial and potentially harmful. An imbalance in these gut bacteria can contribute to digestive issues, including stomach pain after eating. Bacterial imbalances are often caused by
- stress (which can disrupt the normal balance between good and bad bacteria)
- antibiotics (which kill off beneficial microbes)
- poor digestion (see above)
- alcohol consumption (alcohol can damage your gut lining and diminish the population of good bacteria)
Consuming a diverse range of plant-based foods, incorporating probiotic-rich foods or supplements, and managing stress levels can help restore the balance and alleviate stomach discomfort.
Stress is one of the most common causes of stomach pain. Stress comes in many forms, such as work, relationships, family and finances. It can also be physical stressors like underlying gut issues, dehydration, lack of sleep, blood sugar balances or under eating.
When you’re stressed, the body diverts energy away from digestion, slowing down the process. This can result in delayed stomach emptying, decreased enzyme production, and increased sensitivity to pain.
If your digestion is slow, there are several signs that will let you know:
- You experience bloating and gas after eating meals.
- The food in your stomach feels like it’s been sitting there for hours after consuming it (or even longer).
- Your body does not feel satisfied after consuming small amounts at one time; instead, it seems like more food is needed in order for this feeling of satisfaction or fullness to occur–and sometimes even then it doesn’t happen!
Reducing stress is crucial for supporting a healthy gut. Incorporating stress reduction techniques into your daily routine can have a positive impact on your digestive system. Engaging in regular physical activity, such as walking, yoga, or meditation, helps release tension and promotes relaxation. Prioritizing self-care activities that bring you joy, like reading, spending time in nature, or listening to music, can also help alleviate stress. Additionally, practicing deep breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques can calm the nervous system and reduce stress levels. Remember, finding what works best for you and making self-care a priority will not only support your gut health but also contribute to overall well-being.
Experiencing stomach pain after eating can be bothersome, but understanding the potential causes can help you take steps toward finding relief.
With the help of gutTogether®, Jane was able to regain her focus, productivity, and confidence in the workplace. She was able to accept more responsibilities and work longer hours without being held back by her symptoms.
She had no idea how much her stomach pain was impacting her work and her peace until she started to feel better.
All of a sudden she was
⭐ not canceling meetings
⭐ not planning her day around food and her stomach
⭐ making plans and keeping them
⭐ more productive because her brain space cleared
The best thing you can do is try to figure out what’s causing your stomach pain. From low stomach acid to bacterial imbalances and stress, various factors can contribute to digestive discomfort. By making mindful choices, seeking professional guidance to get to the root cause, and prioritizing self-care, you can support a healthy digestive system and enjoy meals without the ache.
Ready to finally get to the root cause of your digestive symptoms? Take my FREE quiz “Which Popular Song Describes Your GI Issues?”. Find out your root cause and receive action steps to immediately address your symptoms. Take the quiz