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Does Wheat Cause Bloating?

by
author image Solomon Branch
Solomon Branch specializes in nutrition, health, acupuncture, herbal medicine and integrative medicine. He has a B.A. in English from George Mason University, as well as a master's degree in traditional Chinese medicine.
Does Wheat Cause Bloating?
Wheat field Photo Credit florin1961/iStock/Getty Images

Feeling bloated is a common experience after eating, often due to overeating, eating too fast or consuming certain foods and drinks, such as carbonated sodas. Wheat also causes bloating in some individuals, the reasons often varying from person to person. If you find that bloating occurs consistently after eating wheat, consult a qualified health practitioner to determine the cause.

Intestinal Gas

Intestinal gas occurs as the result of swallowing excess air or bacteria in the intestines breaking down hard-to-digest foods. The pressure the gas exerts on the intestinal walls can create the feeling of tightness and distention commonly referred to as bloating. For some people, foods that contain carbohydrates -- including wheat -- can be hard to digest. This leads to gas and the accompanying symptoms, such as bloating, cramping, belching or passing gas. Bloating due solely to intestinal gas is usually temporary.

Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten is a generic name for proteins found in whole wheat, barley and rye. Some people have a hard time processing gluten in their digestive system, which can lead to symptoms of bloating, diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and constipation. Other symptoms not related to digestion can also occur, including depression and a "foggy" sensation in the head. More severe symptoms include anemia, joint pain, osteoporosis and leg numbness.

Digestive Disorders

Many digestive disorders may include bloating as the sole symptom, at least in the initial stages. Celiac disease is most commonly associated with consuming wheat, as it is caused by an allergic reaction to gluten. Unlike gluten sensitivity, which only affects the digestive system, celiac disease involves the immune system. It can cause damage to the small intestine if left untreated. Other diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease can be exacerbated by eating wheat, leading to bloating.

Getting Treatment

Occasional bloating that occurs after eating wheat is often due to its hard-to-digest carbohydrates. Avoiding or limiting wheat consumption may help in that case. If, however, you consistently experience bloating after consuming wheat, or the bloating is accompanied by other symptoms, consult a doctor to determine the cause. A doctor may recommend a specific diet or medications to help you avoid future problems. Diseases such as celiac disease require avoiding wheat in any form, even in small amounts.

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