- What is Intestinal Gas?
- Symptoms of Intestinal Gas
- What Causes Intestinal Gas?
- Foods for Intestinal Gas Relief
- Tips on How to Clear Intestinal Gas
- What causes bloating?
- 7 Foods That Can Cause Bloat
- Tips To Help Avoid Bloating
- 15 Foods that Can Cause Painful Bloating
- 15 Foods that Can Cause Painful Bloating:
- Quick Tips to Reducing Stomach Bloating:
- 1. Instead of diet breads, eat regular whole-grain bread.
- 2. Instead of deli meats and salads, eat a whole cutlet.
- 3. Instead of soft cheese, eat hard cheese.
- 4. Instead of regular chips, eat popped chips.
- 5. Instead of pistachios and cashews, eat almonds.
- 6. Instead of healthy-sounding snack bars and cereals, choose ones made with the fewest, least-processed ingredients.
- 7. Instead of soy milk, drink unsweetened almond milk.
- 8. Instead of low-calorie yogurt, eat plain Greek yogurt with fruit.
- 9. Instead of broccoli and cauliflower, eat bell peppers, carrots, and cucumbers.
- 10. Instead of hummus or sugar-free dressing, choose basic dips and condiments.
- 11. Instead of watermelon, eat cantaloupe.
- 12. Instead of onion and garlic, season with ginger.
- What is lactose?
- How can I tell if I have lactose intolerance?
- What should I do if I think I have lactose intolerance?
- How can my health care provider tell if I’m lactose intolerant?
- Can some people be more lactose intolerant than others?
- Are there different “types” of lactose intolerance?
- Will I always be lactose intolerant?
- What should I do if I’m lactose intolerant?
- What if these suggestions don’t work?
- What else do I need to know?
- How to Avoid and Decrease Problems with Gas
- How can I avoid or decrease problems with gas?
- What guidelines should I follow?
- Which foods are gas-forming?
- What other changes can I make?
- Further information
- Learn more about How to Avoid and Decrease Problems with Gas
- Top Gas-Producing Foods
- Conventional Granola is Not a Health Food
- Granola is Made with Rolled Oats
- Are Oats a Gluten Grain?
- How Granola Feeds Yeast and Other Harmful Bacteria
- Pathogenic Bacteria Create A Vicious Cycle
- Conventional Granola is Essentially Sugar
- Get the Most Current Information about the Microbiome
- 10 Foods That Cause Bloating and What to Eat Instead
- What Are FODMAPS?
- Bottom Line
What is Intestinal Gas?
During the process of digestion, food is broken down into molecules that the body can use to fuel itself. However, sometimes food does not break down completely and food remnants make its way into the large intestine in a semi-digestive state where it then ferments.
Billions of hungry bacteria (the natural “intestinal fauna”) that we all have in our large intestine then produce a variety of gases such as methane, hydrogen and hydrogen sulfide as by-products of this fermentation process. These vapors are known as intestinal gasses, and can cause stomach bloating until they leave the body as flatulence through the anus.
Symptoms of Intestinal Gas
Symptoms of intestinal gas may include:
- Abdominal, intestinal or stomach pain & cramping
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
What Causes Intestinal Gas?
The causes of intestinal gas vary, and may include:
- Carbonated beverages (e.g. beer and soda)
- High altitudes
- Menstrual cycle
- High fiber foods
Intestinal Gas in Children
Children can be very sensitive to their environments, which can lead to distress if overstimulation occurs, leading to intestinal disturbances, bloating and gas. Try to minimize your baby or child’s activity levels and see if the problem is alleviated – for example, limit visitors, taking your child along on errands, and eliminate background noise like a T.V. or radio, which can disrupt comfort levels.
Foods for Intestinal Gas Relief
As intestinal gas may result from the breakdown of certain foods, it is helpful to know which are likely to produce more sensitivity and limit consumption. In addition, eating or drinking any food too rapidly can lead to swallowing excessive air, which can lead to gas.
- Lactose, a natural sugar found in dairy products, is a very common cause of intestinal gas. Limit intake of milk, cheese, dressings, ice cream, and other dairy to see if the condition improves. Many packaged foods may also contain lactose, so check ingredient labels on breads and cereals.
- Raffinose is a complex sugar that is known to produce gas, with beans containing a very high amount. Other foods with raffinose include cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, and whole grains.
- Fructose, a simple sugar, is also a common contributor to gas, so limit onions, artichokes, pears, and wheat.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners like sorbitol, found in dietetic foods, sugar free soda and gum. Sorbitol is also naturally present in certain fruits like apples, peaches and prunes.
- Many carbohydrates and starches, such as potatoes, noodles, and breads contribute to gas when they are digested.
- Foods high in soluble fiber may also cause gas, such as oat bran, beans, barley, nuts, seeds, lentils.
Tips on How to Clear Intestinal Gas
- Limit Fizz. Soda drinks can be your worst enemy, as they can augment your intestinal gas. Also avoid beer. If you do drink a beverage like beer, pour it in a glass first to let some of the fizz out.
- Drink different kinds of herbal teas. Try a cup of tea from ginger, mint, cinnamon, or chamomile tea, and add a little sugar, or honey.
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of water and clear soups (broths without cabbage or beans).
- Try not to swallow air – you can do this by eating slowly and chewing properly. Avoiding chewing gum and hard candy – and quit smoking in a natural manner.
- Foods or Foe? Foods that cause problems are usually those high in fiber or carbohydrates, which are hard to digest. Some of the culprits include: beans, peas, whole grains, cabbage, grapes, plums, raisins, corn, onions, soft drinks, red wine, beer and foods containing milk or wheat (for people who are intolerant to them).
- To help promote digestion, soothe gastric upset, and even stimulate bowel movements, try abdominal massage, which, can help all of the above conditions affected by intestinal gas.
- Products such as Gastronic Dr. support digestive system health and functioning.
Many of us have probably experienced the discomfort of having a bloated stomach, especially after a festive holiday or family feast. That’s when your stomach may feel tight, swollen and enlarged after eating – sometimes accompanied by gassiness, abdominal discomfort, and a pressing need to keep visiting the bathroom.
What causes bloating?
Bloating and gas in the stomach are most commonly caused by a poor diet. If you regularly experience bloating and digestive issues after eating, it may be a sign that you need to make some slight changes to what and how you eat.
Some people may have issues with bloat and digestion because of a sensitivity to foods that are high in FODMAPs. That stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols, which are carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly fermented by bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. The byproduct of this process is gas, which in turn leads to symptoms like bloating, discomfort and flatulence.
7 Foods That Can Cause Bloat
For most people, FODMAPs aren’t actually bad – in fact, they’re great for your health and help feed the friendly bacteria in your gut, but if you have an imbalance in your normal flora and aren’t digesting food well, then you may be leaving more food for the bacteria to ferment.
If you frequently find yourself suffering from that “too-full” feeling after meals, you may need to cut back on the intake of high-FODMAP foods in your diet.
For most people, FODMAPs aren’t actually bad – in fact, they’re great for your health and help feed the friendly bacteria in your gut.
However, if you have an imbalance in your normal flora and aren’t digesting food well, then you may be leaving more food for the bacteria to ferment. If that’s the case, you may need to consider avoiding these foods for a bit, at least until you’ve got your digestion working better and have rebalanced your micro biome.
Top of the list are legumes: foods like beans, lentils, soybeans and peas. These gas-causing foods are high in protein and sugars called alpha-galactosides, which are part of the FODMAPs family.
Some types of legumes, like lentils, also have a very high fiber content, which can cause bloating in sensitive individuals – especially those who may not be used to eating a lot of fiber.
2. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale and many others. These are great sources of essential nutrients like fiber, potassium, iron, vitamin C and vitamin K.
However, they also contain FODMAPs, in the form of a carbohydrate called raffinose. Our bodies don’t make the enzyme to allows us to digest raffinose, so it will pass undigested through the small intestine and be fermented by bacteria in the large intestine. This results in a gas buildup in the colon, which causes bloating and smelly flatulence.
Broccoli contains a carbohydrate called raffinose. Our bodies don’t make the enzyme to allows us to digest raffinose, so it will pass undigested through the small intestine and be fermented by bacteria in the large intestine resulting in a gas buildup in the colon.
3. Dairy products
If you’re lactose-intolerant (like 75% of the world’s population), dairy can cause some major digestive problems.
Those who are lactose-intolerant lack the necessary enzymes in their bodies to break down lactose (the sugar found in dairy products). This causes gas to form in the GI tract, which triggers symptoms like bloating, cramping and diarrhea.
4. Apples and watermelons
An apple a day may keep the doctor away – but unfortunately does not help to prevent bloat. Apples are high in fructose (which is a FODMAP) and fiber. These two culprits can be fermented in the large intestine, leading to gas, bloating and sometimes diarrhea.
The same goes for watermelon, a naturally sweet fruit with a high amount of fructose. While it’s refreshing and great for hot summer days, you may want to avoid snacking on this fruit if you’re particularly prone to bloat.
While it’s refreshing and great for hot summer days, you may want to avoid snacking on watermelon if you’re particularly prone to bloat.
You probably didn’t expect to see this in the list – but there we have it.
Beer is a carbonated beverage, made from sources of fermentable carbs like barley, maize, wheat and rice, along with some yeast and water. This means that it contains both gas (carbon dioxide) and fermentable carbs, two well-known causes of bloating.
These beloved, creamy fruits are a huge fan favorite, but can cause quite a bit of gassiness, as well as some evening bloating. That’s because avocados contain polyols, a nutrient which amps up the puffiness (or gassiness) in a lot of people, thereby resulting in some gastrointestinal discomfort.
Popcorn is more than just a great snack for movie nights. It’s surprisingly healthy and can help with weight loss, being high in fiber and low in calories.
However, popcorn can actually cause bloating due to its volume alone. One serving is about 3-4 cups, which packs the same amount of carbs as one slice of bread. But because it takes up a lot of space inside your stomach, it can temporarily cause you to feel a little bloated after eating.
Tips To Help Avoid Bloating
When your body isn’t producing enough digestive enzymes or stomach acid, your gut doesn’t have what it needs to break down food efficiently. Food sits around in the digestive tract and begins to ferment, which can lead to bloating, gas, reflux, heartburn and constipation. Supplementing with Super Enzymes is a natural approach to getting digestion back on track!
While your diet can often play a huge role in causing bloat, how you eat can be just as much of a factor as what you eat.
Here are some tips to keep in mind for preventing bloat:
- Eat smaller portions. Eating too much at a time can make you feel bloated. If you often feel uncomfortable after having large meals, switch to eating smaller portions of food.
- Supplement with Digestive Enzymes. When your body isn’t producing enough digestive enzymes or stomach acid, your gut doesn’t have what it needs to break down food efficiently. Food sits around in the digestive tract and begins to ferment, which can lead to bloating, gas, reflux, heartburn and constipation.
- Avoid swallowing air/gas. You tend to take in air whenever you eat or drink. Too much of it in your digestive system can lead to bloat, so try to reduce the amount of air you swallow by eating slowly and chewing your food properly. Don’t use straws, and try not to talk until you’ve swallowed your food.
- Drink more water. Staying properly hydrated is a great way to beat bloat, because drinking water can help the fiber in the food you eat to do its job properly. Make sure you drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day. Avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol, or sweet drinks that contain a lot of artificial ingredients and sweeteners.
Learn More About Super Enzymes
15 Foods that Can Cause Painful Bloating
It’s no surprise that eating the wrong things can cause your stomach to start acting abnormally. You’ve probably been there before at some point. Once you hear the loud groaning and gas moving around, you may start to regret your meal choices for the day.
However, it’s not always that easy to recognize exactly what may trigger your stomach to flare and bloat. Everybody’s body is different so it is important to listen carefully to yours and document everything you’re eating and how it makes you feel.
It can become really frustrating when you feel like you are making the right nutritional choices and are not seeing the results you were hoping for. We’re going to give you a little insight into 25 foods that are contributing to your stomach woes. Cutting a few of these out of your diet might help you feel a little leaner and lighter, giving you peace of mind.
15 Foods that Can Cause Painful Bloating:
1. Carbonated Drinks: Carbonated Drinks can cause your belly to get bloated and gassy. The biggest culprits are any type of soda or soft drink. Seltzers and kombucha can be a healthier option but can also contribute to bloating.
2. Onions: Onions contain fructans which have the possibility to cause a little bit of stomach bloating. The acidity of onions may also cause your stomach to feel a bit uneasy and can lead to indigestion.
3. Apples: The higher fiber content in apples can cause an excess amount of gas in your stomach. Also, the skins can also be rough on your digestive tract.
4. Sugar Alcohols: An example of these is artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, mannitol or sorbitol found in processed foods such as granola bars. Look out for these sugar alcohols because they could be messing with your digestive tract.
5. Dairy Products: Dairy Products can be a huge culprit of stomach gas and bloating especially for people that are lactose intolerant.
6. Pizza: Your average American Style pizza is delicious, yes.. However it is loaded with saturated fats and salts, two things that can irritate and cause bloating in your stomach.
7. Canned Soup: Sometimes this can appear as a healthy option when your stomach is hurting. However, canned soup has as much sodium as any other product (roughly 750 to 1000 mg per can) which can cause major bloating.
8. Alcohol: Alcohol drinks can slow down your rate of digestion which can leave you feeling weighed down. Carbonated beers or mixed drinks with sodas will also increase bloating.
9. Corn: Corn is not easily digested by everyone and can clog up your GI Tract if you’re prone to digestive issues.
10. Cruciferous Veggies: An example of these are Broccoli, Kale and Cabbage. These foods have amazing nutrients but can be really rough on your digestive tract when left in raw form.
11. Legumes: Examples of Legumes are beans, lentils and peas. Once again, amazing foods that are filled with protein. However, best to stay away from these if you are bloating because of the gas that they produce.
12. Garlic: Garlic comes from a group of foods that are hard to pass through your digestive tract and drag water through your body, causing bloating, gas and discomfort.
13. Popcorn: Popcorn has been touted as a good snack that will help keep you full. However, popcorn is high in carbs and contains kernels that can be real hard to digest for some people. Save the popcorn for special occasions when you’re not bloated.
14. Watermelon: This naturally sweet fruit has a very high level of fructose. Roughly 30 to 40% of people can’t fully absorb fructose, which leads to bloating, gas, and sometimes diarrhea.
15. Wheat: Wheat can cause digestive problems especially for people that have gluten sensitivity issues. High levels of gluten have been shown to cause stomach build up and bloating.
Quick Tips to Reducing Stomach Bloating:
1. Continuously Hydrating: Your body needs to be continuously replenished with a sufficient amount of water on a daily basis to flush out all toxins.
2. Boiling Vegetables: Boiling and thoroughly cooking your vegetables so that they are softer is important. They need to be soft enough to pass easily through your digestive tract.
3. Find Alternatives to Carbonated Drinks: There are many zero calorie flavored waters that have zero sugar and natural flavors. One of our favorite’s is ‘Hint.’ It’s naturally sweet without sugar alcohols or artificial flavors.
4. Find Alternatives to Dairy: Dairy drinks can really cause a gas build up and make your stomach appear fuller and larger. The good news is there are many lactose free alternatives such as lactaid, coconut, rice and almond milk.
5. Juicing your Vegetables: This can be an easier option than boiling your vegetables if you have to make something quickly. There are so many delicious fruit and vegetable juice combinations to explore and take advantages of.
6. Limit Carb Intake: Having sandwhiches too often, or a dinner roll with most meals may make you overload on carbs. Try replacing breads with vegetables or eating burgers without the bun. This will make you feel increasingly lighter on a daily basis.
1. “10 Foods That Cause Bloating (& What to Eat Instead).” Paleo Blog, 17 Jan. 2018, blog.paleohacks.com/foods-that-cause-bloating/.
2. Smith, Dana Leigh. “35 Things That Give You a Bloated Stomach.” Eat This Not That, 9 Oct. 2017, www.eatthis.com/bloated-stomach/.
3. “Best and Worst Foods for Bloating.” Health.com, www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20802995,00.html#worst-dairy-0.
4. “7 Foods That Are Making You Bloated.” Prevention, 12 Feb. 2016, www.prevention.com/health/foods-cause-bloating.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
There’s no shame in showing off your midriff in a bikini or crop top — ever. But it doesn’t feel good to bare your belly when you’re uncomfortably bloated.
Common culprits are constipation, fluid retention, and gas from swallowed air and the byproducts of digestion, all of which are easy enough to sort out.
For starters: Look out for foods that are likely to cause tummy trouble and reach for belly-flattening foods instead. And as always, listen to your body. Everyone reacts differently to different foods.
1. Instead of diet breads, eat regular whole-grain bread.
Breads, buns, and wraps that are labeled “light,” “low-calorie,” or “low-carb,” might appear to be smart options for calorie-counters. But the truth is that these foods are only low in calories because they’re made up of fiber that the body can’t digest and any calories they contribute aren’t accounted for on nutrition labels. Diet breads won’t help you slim down — it will fill your gut with gas and actually promote bloating.
If you’re watching your carbs or calories, opt for 100 percent whole-wheat bread — The fewer ingredients, the better! — and stick to the recommended serving size. To hedge your bets, you can even reach for gluten-free breads made with ingredients like oats, corn, rice, potato flour, and quinoa, which are generally gentler on the digestive system than wheat (particularly if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance). Or even better: Skip whole-grain breads and go with actual whole grains such as quinoa or rice.
2. Instead of deli meats and salads, eat a whole cutlet.
Deli meats (and mayo-drenched tuna or chicken salads) can be loaded with sodium, ingredients that make your body retain water, and promote bloating and puffiness, warns Felice Schnoll-Sussman, M.D., a gastroenterologist and the director of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. When given the option, choose a grilled chicken breast or fish fillet instead of processed deli meats and tuna salad. And don’t eat all the meats — the body can only digest so much protein (think 4 to 6 ounces) at one time, and nothing can save you from the bloat triggered by overeating. (Sorry!)
3. Instead of soft cheese, eat hard cheese.
In the dairy department, soft cheeses (including cream cheese, cottage, ricotta, and sour cream, which isn’t really a cheese, but still) tend to contain the most tummy-troubling lactose, a milk sugar that isn’t specifically called out on nutrition labels. (You can estimate the amount of lactose in a food by looking at the grams of sugar, which should be listed.)
Sub any cheese you’d typically spread or spoon for solid, aged cheese like cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss. They tend to contain less lactose. And if you’re craving something creamy, William Chey, M.D., a professor at the University of Michigan and advisor to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, recommends plain or Greek yogurt or Greek yogurt-based spread.
4. Instead of regular chips, eat popped chips.
Eating a lot of greasy foods can delay stomach emptying, which can trigger acid reflux and bloating that makes you feel feel excessively full and uncomfortable, Dr. Chey says. Because your body digests fat more slowly than other nutrients, you’ll be stuck with this sensation. Baked and popped chips go down much easier, as do fats that come from plants as opposed to animals. (It’s one reason why you digest a salad dressed in olive oil more quickly than, say, a bacon-cheeseburger.) If constipation plagues you, you can also try unsalted popcorn, which contains fiber that can help get things moving. Just wash it down with plenty of water and limit yourself to a couple of cups — adding too much fiber to your diet too quickly will make you feel bloated every time.
5. Instead of pistachios and cashews, eat almonds.
Almonds (and peanuts!) contain carbs that are easier to digest than the ones in some other nuts like pistachios and cashews. (If you suffer from excessive bloating or gas, a diet that’s low in these carbs can help.) Make sure the almonds and peanuts are unsalted to avoid water retention.
6. Instead of healthy-sounding snack bars and cereals, choose ones made with the fewest, least-processed ingredients.
Even healthy-sounding cereals can contain natural sweeteners such as chicory root or inulin, ingredients that can trigger gas and residual bloating. Here are some other offenders:
It’s best to find cereals that are free of the ingredients above and contain the fewest possible ingredients. (Oatmeal, muesli, or puffed varieties qualify.) When whole foods aren’t available, opt for bars made mostly of whole ingredients (like nuts instead of processed grains). It’s a good sign when the naked eye can see actual nuts or cereal grains intact, and when products contain mostly soluble fiber as opposed to insoluble fiber. (Fiber content is often broken down into these categories on nutrition labels.)
Even if you grab “the right” bar on the go, you’ll benefit from taking your time with it, chewing until the food reaches the consistency of applesauce or pudding. Digestion begins in the mouth, and proper chewing can help your body do its thing so you experience less gas and bloating, Dr. Schnoll-Sussman says.
7. Instead of soy milk, drink unsweetened almond milk.
If you’re sensitive to lactose, you might think that any alternative would beat cow’s milk. But soy milk is made from soybeans. The body absorbs these bad boys poorly and they can end up fermenting in your colon, creating gas that makes your belly balloon.
Because soy milk contains more liquid than straight-up beans, a splash of it in your coffee won’t do the average person any harm. However, a few of bowls of cereal with soy milk — particularly sweetened varieties — can lead to problems in people with particularly sensitive stomachs. So opt for nut milks when you can, and make sure they’re unsweetened.
8. Instead of low-calorie yogurt, eat plain Greek yogurt with fruit.
Low-calorie yogurts (and dairy-based frozen desserts) tend to contain artificial or natural sweeteners like chicory root and maltitol that lead to gas — on top of the lactose that already bothers some people. A telltale sign that any dairy product is likely to irritate your gut: The nutrition label lists fiber or sugar alcohols, which don’t naturally occur in dairy foods. Plain Greek yogurt contains fewer ingredients, even when you add fruit to the mix. In terms of frozen desserts, sorbet, and sherbet are your best bets for naturally low calorie options.
9. Instead of broccoli and cauliflower, eat bell peppers, carrots, and cucumbers.
Generally speaking, veggies are the perfect flat-belly foods. They contain fiber that comes naturally packaged with water — a combo that can fend off constipation when eaten in moderation, explains Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietitian nutritionist and instructor at Mayo Clinic. That said, some produce creates more gas than others, so choose your crudités wisely. Experts agree that broccoli and cauliflower are the worst offenders, but peppers and carrots tend to be less bloating.
10. Instead of hummus or sugar-free dressing, choose basic dips and condiments.
Bean dips like hummus, which is made of gas-causing garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), can bloat you up — and the same goes for lentils, black beans, and peas, Dr. Schnoll-Sussman says. Meanwhile, sugar-free dressings and dips often contain stomach-irritating artificial sweeteners. Processed spreads can also contain lots of salt, while simple condiments made with mustard, tahini, pesto, oil and vinegar, relish, salsa, or unsalted nut butter tend to make better choices.
11. Instead of watermelon, eat cantaloupe.
Like veggies, fruits contain fiber and water that aid in digestion. But fruits that get their natural sweetness from fructose alone are more likely to bother your stomach than fruits naturally sweetened by fructose and glucose, Dr. Chey says.
One example is watermelon, but don’t let its high water content trick you: It’s all fructose. The safest fruits to snack on include bananas, most berries, grapes, lemons, limes, and pineapples, while stone fruits, apples, blackberries, and canned fruits are more problematic. Listen to your body. If the fruit doesn’t bother you, by all means, keep chomping on it.
12. Instead of onion and garlic, season with ginger.
Many people are unknowingly sensitive to the fructans (sugars) found in onions and garlic, which can seriously upset your stomach, according to Dr. Chey. Meanwhile, an alternative such as ginger can actually combat inflammation — and tastes delicious in teas, stir fries, salad dressings, and smoothies, according to Dr. Schnoll-Sussman. Turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon can also have anti-inflammatory effects, Zeratsky says.
Follow Elizabeth on Twitter and Instagram.
Elizabeth Narins Senior fitness and health editor Elizabeth Narins is a Brooklyn, NY-based writer and a former senior editor at Cosmopolitan.com, where she wrote about fitness, health, and more.
It’s a fact of life: bloating happens, and sometimes for seemingly no reason. Even if you usually eat a healthy diet, you may suddenly have to deal with a puffy stomach. If you regularly deal with bloating, it’s understandable that you’d want to figure out the culinary culprit.
Some people cut out dairy, and this move can make sense. The Mayo Clinic lists milk and milk products as one of several gas-producing foods that can lead to bloating, noting that avoiding or reducing your intake of it may help decrease that puffed up feeling.
“Even though dairy is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, it can definitely cause gas and bloating for some people,” Karen Ansel, R.D.N., author of Healthy in a Hurry: Simple, Wholesome Recipes for Every Meal of the Day, tells SELF. The main reason why many people bloat up after eating dairy is lactose intolerance, she says.
People frequently assume this is a milk “allergy,” but it’s really a deficiency of an enzyme, called lactase, that breaks down the sugar in milk, Ansel explains. “As a result, lactose, the sugar in milk, travels intact throughout your digestive system, pulling water into your gut, causing gas, bloating, and lots of discomfort,” she says.
But a lactose intolerance can vary wildly from person to person, as can which foods cause issues for them, Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells SELF. “Most people with lactose intolerance can still tolerate certain dairy products, like yogurt and hard cheeses, like Parmesan and Swiss, which have a lower lactose content when compared with milk,” she says. “Many people can also have small servings of dairy at a time (like 2 to 4 ounces) without issue.”
However, some people can be incredibly sensitive to dairy, Ansel says, adding that it tends to get worse as people age. “It’s not unusual for a person who was always able to drink milk to develop a little lactose intolerance as they get older,” she says.
But none of this means you should immediately swear off dairy. “In fact, totally scrapping dairy from your diet can make lactose intolerance worse because your body produces digestive enzymes to break down the foods that they are used to digesting on a regular basis,” Ansel says. Basically, if you stop exposing your gut to lactose, it’s going to make less and less lactase. Then, if you do drink milk or have dairy products, it’s going to be very uncomfortable. Also, since dairy is a major food group, cutting it out entirely means you’d lower your intake of several important nutrients, like calcium.
The best way to determine if dairy is causing your bloating is to play human guinea pig. Rumsey recommends cutting way back on dairy for a week or two and seeing if your bloating goes away. If it does, you can slowly start to add some small amounts of dairy back into your diet, starting with low-lactose products, like yogurt and hard cheese. If your symptoms return, you know your threshold for dairy.
“You may find that you can drink small amounts of milk with no problem, but not a large glass,” Ansel says. “Many people also find that they can drink milk with food, like a bowl of cereal, but if they drink it alone on an empty stomach, they become really gassy.” People who are more sensitive may not be able to have cheese at all, or they can have hard cheeses like Parmesan or Swiss cheese, since they have very little lactose, she says.
If you’re cutting back on your dairy intake, it’s important to make sure you get calcium from other sources, like broccoli, kale, okra, collard greens, almonds, and shrimp, Rumsey says. “You can also get calcium from calcium-fortified soy products (soy milk, tofu) and calcium-fortified juices and cereals,” she adds.
Many dairy foods also contain vitamin D, New York-based Jessica Cording, R.D., tells SELF, so it’s also a good idea to get vitamin D-rich foods in your diet, like salmon.
If you’re still bloating after lowering your dairy intake or are having difficulty avoiding it altogether, talk to a doctor or dietitian for help, Cording says. They should be able to steer you in the right direction, give you a breath test to determine if you are, in fact, lactose intolerant, and walk you through a full-on dairy elimination diet if that’s the right choice for you.
- Want To Know Why You’re Always Bloated? You Eat Too Fast
- 3 Dinners That Will Help Reduce Bloating
- 10 Genius Tricks R.D.s Use To Debloat ASAP
Watch: Victoria’s Secret Angel Workout: 4-Move Total-Body Burn
You probably know someone with lactose intolerance. Maybe that person is a family member, a friend, or you. It’s most common among Asian Americans, African Americans, individuals of Jewish descent, Mexican-Americans, and Native Americans. That being said, any person could have lactose intolerance.
What is lactose?
Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Your body makes an enzyme called lactase that breaks down lactose into smaller sugars that your body can then digest and use for energy.
If you have lactose intolerance, your body may not be able to break down all the lactose that you eat or drink. People with lactose intolerance do not produce sufficient amounts of lactase needed to break down the lactose. This causes undigested lactose to make its way to the large intestine where bacteria starts to digest it. This can cause nausea, stomach cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea for people with lactose intolerance if they eat or drink milk or foods that contain a lot of lactose.
How can I tell if I have lactose intolerance?
If you have nausea, stomach cramps, gas, bloating, or diarrhea within 30 minutes to several hours after eating or drinking foods with lactose, you may have lactose intolerance.
What should I do if I think I have lactose intolerance?
Do not try to diagnose yourself. If you think you might be lactose intolerant, it’s important for you to see your health care provider. The same discomfort caused by lactose intolerance could also be caused by other health conditions. Your health care provider is the only person who can confirm that you are lactose intolerant. Once your health care provider figures out what is causing your digestive discomfort, you can work with them or a dietitian to try to manage your symptoms.
How can my health care provider tell if I’m lactose intolerant?
Your health care provider will likely ask you a number of questions about your symptoms and what a typical day of eating looks like for you at your appointment. For some individuals, the first suggestion from a health care provider to confirm a lactose intolerance diagnosis is to stop eating or drinking foods with lactose and to see if your symptoms improve. You may also have a hydrogen breath test to confirm this diagnosis. A hydrogen breath test is done by breathing into a machine that measures the amount of hydrogen in your breath within 90 minutes of consuming lactose. If you are lactose intolerant, your body will produce more hydrogen than if you are lactose tolerant.
Can some people be more lactose intolerant than others?
Yes. There are different degrees of lactose intolerance. For example, some people may be able to drink 1/2 cup of milk without symptoms but have symptoms when they drink 1 cup. Other people may have difficulty drinking even less than 1/2 cup of milk. Over time you will learn how much milk or other dairy products you can handle without having symptoms.
Are there different “types” of lactose intolerance?
Yes. Some people are born without the ability to make the enzyme lactase. People with this type of lactose intolerance have the most difficulty drinking or eating foods that contain lactose. More commonly, people become lactose intolerant as they grow older and their body slowly makes less and less lactase. Some people become lactose intolerant after having surgery or a gastrointestinal infection.
Will I always be lactose intolerant?
If you became lactose intolerant because of an illness, most likely you will not be lactose intolerant forever. If you were born with lactose intolerance or you are having more trouble digesting milk products than you did when you were younger, you might always have some degree of lactose intolerance.
What should I do if I’m lactose intolerant?
If your health care provider has told you that you are lactose intolerant, there are several things you can do so you won’t feel gassy, bloated, or have stomach cramps or diarrhea after you eat lactose-containing foods.
Try these helpful tips:
- Know what foods and drinks contain lactose. Lactose is in most dairy products, some baked and processed foods such as bread, dry cereal, candy, cookies, salad dressings, cream soups, drink mixes, and prepared foods like pizza and lasagna.
- Pay attention to food labels. Food labels list all of the ingredients in order of the amount. The ingredients included in the largest amounts are listed first while those at the end of the list are in the smallest amounts. For example, if milk is listed first, you know that the product contains mostly milk. If you are lactose intolerant it may be a product that you want to avoid or eat in small amounts.
- Start with small portions of dairy foods. If you can tolerate small portions, you might be able to add more a little at a time. As you slowly add dairy foods over time, you will be able to figure out just how much lactose your body can handle.
- Combine dairy foods with nondairy foods. Eating dairy foods with other foods slows the release of lactose into your body. This makes it easier for your body to digest and breakdown the lactose.
- Eat smaller portions of milk or dairy products more frequently. Instead of drinking full servings (1 cup or 8 ounces) of milk, try drinking smaller servings (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) throughout the day.
- Eat dairy foods that are naturally lower in lactose. Cheese and yogurt generally have less lactose than milk. This is because the lactose is partially broken down during the aging process in cheese and by the bacteria in yogurt. Specifically, aged cheeses like parmesan, swiss, and brie, and yogurts that say “live active cultures” on the label tend to be low lactose options.
What if these suggestions don’t work?
If you still have discomfort after trying out these ideas, you may try a lactase supplement, such as Lactaid® or a generic brand, before having foods that contain lactose. You can buy the lactase supplement as a chewable pill or liquid drops for a milk product. The supplement can be purchased without a prescription and will help your body to break down the lactose in the foods you eat or drink. You can also enjoy milk or ice cream that is labeled as lactose free. The brand Lactaid® also sells dairy products with the enzyme lactase already added into their foods, so this can also be helpful if your body has a hard time tolerating even small amounts of lactaid.
What else do I need to know?
- Learn about secret ingredients that contain lactose. These ingredients include dry milk solids (including non-fat milk solids), buttermilk, lactose, malted milk, sour or sweet cream, margarine, whey, whey protein concentrate, and cheese. Sauces, dressings, and soup often have lactose. Baked and processed foods such as cookies, cakes, and pancakes may also contain lactose. Check your food labels!
- Some medications contain lactose. Ask your health care provider if there’s lactose in any medications that you might be taking and read the label yourself, too.
- Remember the calcium. If you don’t drink milk you need to make sure you’re getting enough calcium from other sources in your diet.
If you’re lactose intolerant, you probably won’t need to completely cut out milk or other dairy foods from your diet. These foods provide calcium for your body and other important nutrients. Managing your lactose intolerance with support may be even easier than you think.
How to Avoid and Decrease Problems with Gas
This material must not be used for commercial purposes, or in any hospital or medical facility. Failure to comply may result in legal action.
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 24, 2019.
- Care Notes
- Discharge Care
- En Español
How can I avoid or decrease problems with gas?
Problems with gas may be caused by certain foods, swallowing too much air, and certain medical conditions. Some of these conditions include surgery of the intestines, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a condition that prevents your body from digesting lactose (sugar in milk). You may be able to relieve gas, bloating, and discomfort by avoiding foods that cause gas. Changes in eating habits and physical activity may also help.
What guidelines should I follow?
Not all common gas-forming foods affect everyone the same way. Try avoiding all gas-forming foods for a few weeks until you feel better. Next, try adding 1 gas-forming food back to your diet at a time. Continue to add 1 gas-forming food every few days until you find the foods that are causing problems for you. Avoid only the gas-forming foods that you know are causing problems for you. This will give you a bigger variety of foods to choose from so that you can eat a balanced diet. You may be able to tolerate small servings of some gas-forming foods.
Which foods are gas-forming?
- Vegetables and legumes:
- Dried beans, such as kidney, pinto, garbanzos, lima, and navy
- Dried peas, such as split peas and lentils
- Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower
- Cucumbers and green peppers
- Onions, leeks, and chives
- Pickles and sauerkraut
- Radishes, rutabaga, and turnips
- Other foods:
- Apples, pears, and peaches
- Prunes and raisins
- Large amounts of whole grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread or cereal
- Beer, ales, and other drinks that contain alcohol
- Carbonated drinks, such as soda
- Mannitol and sorbitol are sugar alcohols that are added to food and sugar-free gums and candy
- Dairy foods: Milk and milk products such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream can be gas-forming if you are lactose intolerant. Ask your healthcare provider if you have lactose intolerance and need to avoid dairy foods.
What other changes can I make?
- Do not use straws or drink from bottles with narrow openings. Drink less soda, beer, and other carbonated drinks.
- Eat and drink slowly. Do not chew gum or suck on hard candies.
- Do not increase your fiber intake too quickly. Increase the amount of fiber you eat slowly by eating 1 new high-fiber food every 2 or 3 days. This gives your body more time to get used to the fiber without causing gas problems. Most people can get used to a high-fiber diet over a period of several weeks.
- Ask your healthcare provider about lactase enzyme pills if you have lactose intolerance. These pills help break down lactose. You may also want to try lactose-free milk products. These can help you decrease the gas and bloating caused by lactose.
- Physical activity may help you pass gas if you have problems with bloating.
You have the right to help plan your care. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2019 Information is for End User’s use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Learn more about How to Avoid and Decrease Problems with Gas
IBM Watson Micromedex
- Gas and Bloating
Top Gas-Producing Foods
No one is immune to bouts of gas, but if you experience more than your share of gas and bloating, you know the discomfort this can bring. Although everyone’s body reacts differently to different foods, there are certain gas-producing foods that can cause more trouble than others. How and when you eat can also play a role in excessive gas. Making some adjustments to your diet can help ease these digestive issues.
Where Does Gas Come From?
Gas, also known as flatulence or belching, may be caused by air that you swallow while eating, particularly if you’re rushing. Gas can also result when bacteria break down undigested food in the large intestine. For instance, the stomach and small intestine don’t fully digest fiber as well as the carbohydrates found in many foods.
“Not all carbohydrates are easy to digest,” explains dietitian Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who has expertise in gastrointestinal nutrition. “Fruits and vegetables are big offenders, especially those in raw form because the body has to work hard to digest these plant-based foods. It’s also very dependent on the individual.”
Why Some People Have More Gas Than Others
Gas-producing foods affect different people in different ways. How your body reacts to food depends on how well you digest carbohydrates and what type of bacteria is in your intestines. The efficiency of your digestive tract also plays a role in how well you’re able to move and expel gas.
An analysis of 68 studies and six review articles on the gastrointestinal effects of low-digestible carbohydrates such as fiber, resistant starch, and sugar alcohols, published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition in 2009, found that for many people these carbohydrates can lead to gastrointestinal issues, like excessive gas, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea, particularly when consumed in large amounts.
Among the top gas-producing foods are beans and other legumes as well as cruciferous vegetables, such as:
- Brussels sprouts
Other high-fiber foods, like whole grains, may also cause gas or bloating, particularly if you’ve recently increased your fiber intake. The body tends to acclimate to a high-fiber diet over time, Lemond says. “Increased or excessive gas usually gets better,” she says.
Lactose, or milk sugar, may also cause gas in some people. If you have trouble digesting milk or dairy products like ice cream and cheese, your body may not be making enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down the lactose in dairy foods.
Common sweeteners, such as fructose, may also be to blame for excessive gas. The small intestine can only absorb a limited amount of fructose daily. When bacteria break down undigested sweeteners in the colon, gas can result. Many fruit beverages, including pear and apple juice, contain fructose. Sodas and some other sugary beverages with high-fructose corn syrup can be culprits of gas as well.
Lemond says that anyone concerned about excessive gas should be mindful of the sweeteners added to sugar-free candy, gum, and some packaged foods, such as cereal and granola bars. “On top of the added fiber, some granola bars also contain sugar alcohols known to cause intestinal gas,” she says. Look for sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol — all sugar alcohols — among the ingredients on nutrition labels. Her advice: Avoid all sugars that end in the letters “ol.”
Steps to Reduce Excessive Gas
First, determine what’s causing your digestive discomfort. To do that, Lemond suggests keeping a diary of what you eat and drink. Also record how often you burp, pass gas, or experience other uncomfortable symptoms, like bloating. By tracking your symptoms in a food diary, along with what and when you’re eating, you may be able to pinpoint what’s causing you to develop gas.
Other ways to find gas relief include:
Trial and error. Try experimenting with your diet. Temporarily cutting back on certain foods and then reintroducing them can help isolate gas-producing foods, Lemond says. Once your dietary culprits are found, however, you don’t have to give them up entirely. “Try eating smaller portions of foods that usually cause you gas,” she says. “Also avoid pairing two or more big offenders in one meal.”
Even people diagnosed with a food intolerance can modify their diet to ease their symptoms. “Lactose intolerance is a common digestive issue,” Lemond says. “That doesn’t mean you have to cut out all dairy. Yogurt is usually okay. Lactose-free milk and low-lactose cheeses are also available.”
Slow down. When trying to reduce gas, it’s also important to consider how you eat. “Eating too fast, not chewing well, and gulping air are going to cause more gas,” she says. “You need to appreciate the enzymes in your mouth that help break down food. If you eat too quickly, you’re not allowing your mouth to start the digestive process.”
Eat regularly. Timing is also important when trying to ease gas and bloating. “Many people wait too long to eat, then eat very large portions,” Lemond says. “This can cause gas or even diarrhea because there’s just too much stress on the stomach.”
Avoid icy, hot, and fizzy drinks. “Cold or hot liquids and carbonated drinks can also trigger gas or bloating,” she says. If you feel the need to drink a beverage while eating, opt for water at room temperature.
Reduce fat intake. Limiting high-fat foods can help reduce gas and bloating. Cut back on fat in your diet to help your stomach empty faster. This will allow gases to move more quickly into your small intestine. “Fat slows the functioning of your intestines, so if you don’t process gas very well, fatty foods could make that worse,” says Lena Palmer, MD, a gastroenterologist, assistant professor in the department of medicine, and medical director of nutritional services at Loyola University Chicago.
When to Talk to Your Doctor About Gas
When gas is accompanied by other symptoms, such as constipation, diarrhea, or weight loss, it’s time to talk to your doctor, Dr. Palmer says. You should also see your doctor if your symptoms are troublesome or suddenly change.
Intolerances to certain foods may cause gastrointestinal distress, but Lemond says it’s not a good idea to restrict your diet without guidance from your doctor first. “It’s concerning when people start pulling certain foods or food groups out of their diet and trying to self-diagnose or self-treat,” she says. “This can have a nutritional impact.” If excessive gas is a real problem for you, consider seeing a doctor who specializes in digestive health (a gastroenterologist) to get to the bottom of it and find ways to reduce gas and discomfort.
Conventional Granola is Not a Health Food
One of the first health foods I started eating was granola. Talk about being crunchy. But I found out the hard way that conventional granola is not a health food.
It was perfect for me.
It had plenty of the carbs that I was craving and it was said to be good for you.
Little did I know that it would lead me to an overgrowth of Candida that would plague me for years.
Granola is Made with Rolled Oats
Typically granola is made with rolled oats which simply means that the oat grain is rolled flat.
That does nothing to help you digest it. There are also quick oats which are just ground up oat grains to help them cook fast. Then there are steel cut oats which are oat grains chopped up, also to help cook faster.
Oats that are not properly prepared by soaking or sprouting are very hard to digest.
Find out how to properly prepare nuts and seeds and grains like oats.
Are Oats a Gluten Grain?
The answer is no.
There is no gluten in oats.
However, it is included in the list of gluten grains because it is usually contaminated with gluten from other grains. For someone with a molecular sensitivity to gluten, this would be a problem. So oats are generally off limits for celiacs unless they get gluten free oats and then they still may have a problem. Many celiacs need to go beyond gluten free – they need to go grain free.
Another problem comes from the fact that most commercial preparations of oats and grains in general, do not include soaking, sprouting or sour dough fermentation which helps remove the anti-nutrients in grains as mentioned above.
Other Ingredients in Granola
Even the health food companies making a natural granola use additives that will harm you. By this time you know that natural can mean any number of chemical additives disguised under the umbrella term of natural.
Conventional granola includes sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil, nuts (that also have not been properly prepared by soaking) and some dried fruit which may be dried with sulfa or glycerin.
Even this brand, which advertises itself as very natural, has the following ingredients:
The second ingredient is honey and is it also sweetened with dried fruit that has sugar added, raisins and maple syrup, so it is very sweet. But this version is pretty good compared to other brands of granola which have tons more sugar and other chemicals.
Yet even here, there are problems.
The problem is that the whole grain oat, which most people would consider healthy, is really hard to digest, especially because it is whole grain and the bran is where all the anti-nutrients like lectins and phytic acid reside. I’ve talked about those substances is previous posts so you probably know that they are not gut friendly.
Additionally, the nuts in commercial granola are most assuredly not soaked and dehydrated.
Don’t get me started on the canola oil, which everyone thinks (not you of course) is very healthy.
How Granola Feeds Yeast and Other Harmful Bacteria
As you can see from the discussion above, the conventional granola is full of extremely hard to digest ingredients; from oats to nuts. This creates fertile ground for sugar seeking bacteria and yeast to multiply and prosper in an unsuspecting person.
Of the three macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats), carbohydrates are actually the hardest to digest.
Carbohydrates are also the main food for the intestinal flora. When they are not digested properly, they stay in the intestines and become food for the pathogenic bacteria and yeast.
In some cases it is because of the improper preparation of foods – in others it is because of dysbiosis in the gut of the person.
Pathogenic Bacteria Create A Vicious Cycle
These pathogens can then proliferate and overpower the numbers of beneficial bacteria and yeast in the gut. When this happens, a vicious cycle begins. Undigested carbohydrates become food for pathogens, and these pathogens multiply and take a strong residence in the gut.
These pathogens give off toxic acidic byproducts which can damage the delicate lining of the intestinal tract and cause symptoms such as, excess mucous (in an attempt by the goblet cells to protect the epithelium against toxins), excess gas, diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stools, etc.
Any damage to the lining of the digestive tract also causes a loss of the digestive enzymes that are embedded in the lining. Therefore, digestion is further compromised. This can eventually develop into a disease process. If the carbohydrates are continuously eaten, it drives the cycle, and the symptoms as well as the intestinal damage gets worse and worse.
Some people can have this vicious cycle going on and not even know it because their symptoms are not related to the digestive tract. For example, sinus problems and migraines can be related to this vicious cycle of undigested carbohydrates feeding the pathogenic organisms. Skin problems, learning problems, joint problems, can also be related to this problem in the digestive tract.
I was that person.
I ate lots of granola, along with other very difficult to digest foods like soy (yes I was enthralled with soy until I read Kaayla Danial’s book (The Whole Soy Story). These foods destroyed my intestine and allowed Candida yeast to flourish.
Conventional Granola is Essentially Sugar
While there may not be a lot of sugar in the ingredient list of granola, the oats digest very quickly into sugar (just like whole wheat products) and cause a spike in blood glucose. This is bad for an individual’s sugar metabolism.
Additionally, the sugar will feed the yeast and bad bacteria.
Grains disrupt proper blood sugar regulation
Although whole grain flours are touted as being healthier, they actually get digested just as quickly as refined flours and are considered to be highly glycemic.
Oats fall into this category as well.
That is, they go into the blood stream as quickly as a candy bar. A diet with a lot of grains will constantly cause spikes and drops in blood sugar and insulin. Over time this can lead to prediabetes and diabetes.
These constant hormonal shifts also stress the adrenal glands in a negative way. Additionally, sugar feeds cancer.
The key to healing
Removing the offending food from the diet is the key to healing. The medical approach is to manage the symptoms with medications. The holistic approach is to tackle the root cause of the problem and remove any interference to healing.
Many people can have an overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast and this may be a cause of strong cravings. Candida albicans is also implicated in sinus problems and of course vaginal yeast infections in women.These yeasts feed upon sugar and undigested carbohydrates.
The solution is a grain-free diet
The solution is to follow a grain-free diet and some people even need to follow a starch and sugar-free diet like SCD or GAPS.
Make your own grain-free granola
In my online class, go grain-free, I share how I make a wildly delicious grain free granola that has a low glycemic index because it is made with nuts and is low in natural sugar. It is easy to digest because the nuts have been properly prepared. I share how to make a batch that can be stored and used for a long time.
Get the Most Current Information about the Microbiome
Check out my newest ebook, Heal Your Microbiome Optimize Your Health – on sale today!
Like this article? Get many more and tons of information and instructions on using grain free flours in my fantastic kindle books. You don’t need a kindle to read them, as Amazon offers a FREE reader for all devices, on the sales page for each book.
Grab my kindle books here!
Grain Free Paleo Breads
Grain Free Paleo Snacks
Grain Free Paleo Desserts and Treats
These recipes are suitable for Paleo, SCD, GAPS and all grain free eaters.
If you just can’t tolerate grains of any kind you may want to check out my online class: Go Grain Free!
10 Foods That Cause Bloating and What to Eat Instead
Ever wake up with a flat stomach in the morning, only to bloat out like a hot air balloon right after you eat breakfast—without understanding why? If you’re suffering through each day feeling sluggish, tired, cramped and heavy, you may be interested to know that certain foods can cause bloating.
Bloating is the result of gas or fluid accumulating in your GI tract, or when bacteria in your large intestine have a hard time breaking down certain foods (1). The most common foods that produce digestive symptoms are high FODMAP foods.
What Are FODMAPS?
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols (2). In simple terms, FODMAPS are a group of indigestible short-chain carbohydrates, or sugar molecules. Since your body is unable to completely digest these sugar molecules, they travel through your GI tract and reach your colon undigested, where the bacteria that live in your colon begin to ferment them. The fermentation can produce gas and bloating (3). FODMAPS are indigestible foods that could be the cause of your gas and bloating.
Now, it’s true that low FODMAP diets are typically recommended for those with serious digestive conditions, such as colitis or SIBO. But avoiding high FODMAP foods has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms in anyone who suffers from gas and bloating (4)(5).
In addition to high FODMAP foods, there are several other foods (and beverages) that can contribute to a swollen tummy. So, if you’re finally ready to say goodbye to the food baby, here’s a list of 11 common foods to avoid that cause bloating (and what to eat instead).
1. Raw Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous veggies, such as kale, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, cause bloating and gas when eaten in their raw form. This is because they’re extremely high in fiber, which can be difficult for your body to break down.
Furthermore, cruciferous veggies contain raffinose, which is a sugar molecule that falls under the FODMAP umbrella (6).
So, if you’ve ever been gassy after eating a plate of broccoli, you can rest assured it’s not your fault—it’s the raffinose (try explaining that at your next Paleo potluck!).
What to Eat Instead:
Now, cruciferous vegetables provide several essential vitamins and minerals, in addition to the hormone balancing compound Indole-3-Carbinol (7). So you probably don’t want to leave them out of your diet. Instead, try steaming cruciferous vegetables to help soften their tough fiber and make them easier to digest. You can also increase their digestibility by blending them into a soup with a cup or two of veggie broth after steaming. Forget those pre-assembled veggie dips — raw broccoli and cauliflower will bloat your belly!
If you’re on a raw kale kick and find you’re bloated, try replacing kale with a less fibrous green, such as romaine lettuce or watercress.
When it comes to cabbage, try swapping raw cabbage for fermented cabbage, or sauerkraut. Sauerkraut tends to be easier on digestion because it’s “pre-digested” by bacteria during the fermentation process.
2. Fizzy Drinks
If you’ve ever been bloated and belch-y after sipping on a seltzer, you’re not alone. The carbonation in fizzy drinks such as soda, water kefir, and kombucha create air in the intestinal tract, which will cause bloating (8).
What to Drink Instead:
Rather than opting for bubbles, try replacing fizzy drinks with a refreshing green juice or mineral water with a splash of lime cordial.
If you’re an avid kombucha drinker, you may be interested in trying switchel instead. Like kombucha, switchel is a fermented drink that contains probiotics, but it’s less likely to cause bloating because it’s not carbonated.
Switchel, also known as “haymakers punch,” was traditionally consumed by farmers to promote hydration and replenish electrolytes. But with unpasteurized apple cider vinegar as a main ingredient, switchel also contains friendly bacteria which makes it an ideal, non-carbonated alternative to kombucha.
A basic switchel recipe combines still water, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, ginger, and a natural sweetener, such as coconut nectar, raw honey or pure maple syrup. You can experiment with different flavor combinations by adding herbs, fruit and spices (such as citrus and mint).
Onions are a high FODMAP food because they contain fructans, which are a fructo-oligosaccharide (9). Even when eaten in small amounts, onions have also been linked to other digestive symptoms, such as acid reflux and indigestion.
Cooking onions may help reduce digestive symptoms for some people.
As one of the best flavor enhancers for Paleo recipes, you may not want to leave the flavor of onions out of your diet entirely. You can try cooking with onion infused oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, which is less likely to produce digestive symptoms.
Replacing onions with scallions and shallots isn’t recommended, as they’re closely related to the onion family and also contain FODMAPs.
As one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, how could apples cause bloating? Swap apples with berries or cantaloupe if you’re prone to bloating.
While it’s true that apples are full of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, they’re also higher in fructose than most fruits. Fructose is a monosaccharide, which makes it a high FODMAP food. The high fiber content in apples may also be difficult for some people to digest.
If you’re prone to bloating, you may want to try replacing apples with lower FODMAP fruits such as berries, cantaloupe, grapes or bananas (10). Cooking apples and making applesauce can also help increase their digestibility.
5. Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, mannitol and sorbitol are commonly used as low-calorie sweeteners in processed foods such as granola bars and cereal. Since sugar alcohols are made up of polyols, which are a FODMAP, they’ve been linked to promoting digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas and diarrhea (11).
Although xylitol is often recommended as a healthy alternative to refined sugar, green leaf stevia or 100% pure maple syrup are better choices because they’re lower in FODMAPs.
In addition to sugar alcohols, other fructose-rich sweeteners to avoid include high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar, beet sugar, evaporated cane juice and cane syrup.
Lastly, although it’s a healthier Paleo-friendly alternative to processed sweeteners, honey also contains fructose, which classifies it as a FODMAP food that can cause bloating.
As a close cousin of the onion, garlic is another high FODMAP food that can cause bloating and gas. Garlic is said to be most aggravating in its raw form, but may still produce digestive symptoms when cooked.
If sauteed garlic is a no-go with your GI tract, try replacing garlic with chives, which are a low FODMAP alternative. Although no food can imitate the exact pungent flavor of garlic, chives come in as a close second when it comes to enhancing the flavor of your recipes.
7. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes, such as fava beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts and soybeans, aren’t permitted on a Paleo diet because they contain a protective coating called phytic acid.
Phytic acid is considered an “antinutrient” because it binds to the nutrients in the food it’s found in, which prevents us from digesting and absorbing essential vitamins and minerals (12).
Beans and legumes are also a high FODMAP food because they contain a sugar molecule called alpha-galactosides. In fact, the FODMAPs in beans are why they’ve earned the reputation as being a musical fruit.
Since beans and legumes are considered a primary source of protein in many diets, replacing them with a low FODMAP protein source such as organic grass-fed meat or eggs can help prevent bloating. Replace beans with grass-fed meat and eggs for more vitamins and minerals.
Since grass-fed meat and eggs don’t contain phytic acid, they’ll also provide you with a higher concentration of bioavailable vitamins and minerals.
As another food that contains phytic acid, grains such as oats, rice and wheat aren’t permitted on a Paleo diet. Grains also happen to be a high fiber, high FODMAP food, which can cause or worsen existing digestive symptoms.
If pasta is one of your favorite ways to eat grains, try making Paleo-friendly pasta “noodles” from spiralized zucchini, which is a low FODMAP food.
Quinoa can also be a substitute for grains because it’s closely related to the spinach family, and is actually more of a seed. With a fluffy texture and nutty flavor, quinoa can replace brown rice or oats in recipes. However, quinoa still contains phytates, so it’s best to soak quinoa overnight prior to cooking, which can help reduce the phytic acid.
While mushrooms can make any savory Paleo recipe taste amazing, they can also be a major cause of the bloat. As you may have already guessed, mushrooms contain polyols which make them a high FODMAP food.
Additionally, mushrooms are a type of fungi that may aggravate digestive symptoms in those who have yeast overgrowth, or candida. As a fungal infection in the GI tract, candida can produce digestive symptoms such as bloating, which are worsened by foods that contain yeast and fungi (13).
Finding an ideal substitute for mushrooms will depend on whether you add mushrooms to your recipes for flavor or texture. Sauteed zucchini can provide a similar texture to mushrooms, while bone broth or seaweed such as kombo can add a savory, salty flavor to your recipes.
10. Dairy Products
Dairy is another food you won’t find on the Paleo diet, partially because it’s difficult to digest.
Dairy is linked to bloating and gas because it’s high in lactose, which is a milk sugar. In order to digest lactose, our bodies require the digestive enzyme, lactase. Unfortunately, many of us stop producing a sufficient amount of lactase beyond the ages of breastfeeding, which makes it hard for us to digest the milk sugar in dairy (14).
Casein, the protein found in dairy, has also been shown to promote inflammation in the gut lining in those who are sensitive to dairy, which can further produce digestive symptoms such as bloating (15).
Coconut milk and nut milks such as almond milk, cashew milk and hemp milk are excellent alternatives to dairy, and they are also higher in essential vitamins and minerals.
As you can see, the most common foods that cause bloating are high FODMAP foods, or foods that contain phytic acid. In addition to being linked to certain foods, bloating can also result from lifestyle factors such as eating too fast, eating while distracted, or not chewing your food properly.
Eliminating foods that cause bloating from your diet is an excellent start for improving your digestive health, but chronic bloating may suggest that a deeper, underlying health issue is at work. In addition to avoiding foods that cause bloating, working with a natural healthcare practitioner to address the root cause of your digestive symptoms may be most effective when it comes to saying goodbye to the food baby for good.
(Read This Next: 11 Best Breakfast Foods for Digestive Health)