Finding the right diet for you is a balancing act. While there are general guidelines for which foods to eat — and avoid — to stay healthy, sometimes even the healthiest of foods can wreak havoc on our digestive systems and cause bloating and discomfort. But how do you know which foods to avoid to reduce your chances of bloating?
We’re here to help, so here is a list of some of the most common foods that cause bloating (and why) so you can get some relief — and avoid bloating in the future.
Which foods cause bloating?
We’re all unique — and so are our digestive systems. Some foods that cause you to bloat might not affect another person, and vice versa. The reason: While a food might be nutritionally healthy, it might contain any number of compounds that can cause bloating.
While some of the compounds that cause bloating are obvious (like carbon dioxide gas in soda), many don’t have the same household name status. People with celiac disease or wheat sensitivity can experience bloating thanks to proteins called gluten, for example.
Another big culprit of bloating and abdominal discomfort are compounds known as FODMAPs. FODMAPs is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, a group of short-chain carbohydrates that aren’t digested, but fermented by gut bacteria in the large intestine. While FODMAPs are a source of fuel for those without intolerances, they can cause gas and bloating in others.
It’s often difficult to figure out which compounds are causing your discomfort, but following an elimination diet known as a low FODMAP diet can help get you closer to pinpointing the cause. With a low FODMAP diet, you restrict or eliminate foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, wheat, dairy, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners for a period of time (usually anywhere from three to eight weeks). Then you reintroduce the eliminated foods one at a time to figure out what is causing bloating and discomfort.
Foods that cause bloating and gas
Taking Daily Digestive Essentials combines natural ingredients like fennel and ginger with prebiotics and probiotics as well as clinically proven ingredients to help stop bloating from the first bite on. However, you should also be aware of the foods that commonly cause bloating and gas so you can limit — or avoid — those foods (or find tasty alternatives).
Does cabbage cause bloating? Does broccoli cause bloating? They can. The reason: Both are cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous veggies are a diverse bunch of greens (including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, arugula, Brussels sprouts, watercress and radishes) that are incredibly healthy and chock full of vitamins A, C and K, but also contain high amounts of fiber and raffinose, a trisaccharide composed of galactose, glucose, and fructose, making it high in FODMAPs.
Legumes like beans and lentils
Both beans and lentils are high in FODMAPs. Beans contain a large amount of alpha-galactosides, while lentils have galacato-oligosaccharides. While it’s best to avoid both these foods if you notice they cause gas and bloating, you can cut down on the FODMAPs by soaking them for a long period of time before cooking. You can also opt for beans that are easier on the digestive system, like black beans or pinto beans.
Onions and garlic
Both onions and garlic add serious taste to meals, but they also contain fructans, a compound known to cause bloating and gas. Fructans are simple carbohydrates made of a chain of fructose molecules strung together and occur naturally in foods like onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and more.
Carbonated drinks — like soda and sparkling water — are infused with carbon dioxide to get the bubbles going. Carbon dioxide is a gas and you end up drinking a lot of it when you drink a carbonated beverage. And where does the gas go? Into your digestive system, where it can build up and cause uncomfortable bloating and cramping.
Cereal grains like barley, rye and wheat
Cereal grains, including barley, rye and wheat, are high in gluten, a mix of two proteins responsible for texture in foods that contain them. People with Celiac disease or wheat sensitivities aren’t able to digest the gluten, leading to bloating and discomfort.
There’s a reason why avid beer drinkers complain of having a “beer belly.” While part of a beer belly comes from the fat gain caused by drinking excess calories, some experience bloating because of the ingredients in the beer itself. Most popular beers are brewed using ingredients like barley and wheat which, as we mentioned earlier, can cause bloating in people with gluten sensitivities. Beer is also infused with carbon dioxide, and the carbonation can cause you to take in excess gas.
There’s also another cause of beer bloating: gastritis. Research suggests that for some people, beer can cause inflammation in the lining of the stomach, known as gastritis. This can lead to bloating and, in severe cases, ulcers and other problems with the stomach lining.
It’s often said that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but that’s not the case for everyone. For those sensitive to foods high in FODMAPs, apples can cause bloating and abdominal discomfort. The culprit: the polyols and fructose found inside the apple.
While avoiding apples can ensure you won’t feel the bloating from it, some apples — like Pink Lady or green Granny Smith apples — have less of these substances and are more well tolerated by those who can’t digest FODMAPs. Also, cooking apples is shown to help cut down on the chances of apple-induced bloating.
Feel bloated after eating a bowl of ice cream or a few pieces of cheese? Some people lack the necessary enzymes to break down lactose, the simple sugars found in dairy products. Like those who can’t break down foods high in FODMAPs, people with lactose intolerance experience a build-up of gas in the intestinal tract, triggering that tell-tale discomfort and bloating.
Here’s another bummer: The amount of lactose we can tolerate reduces as we age, meaning that you might suddenly experience bloating and discomfort after eating dairy even if it was never a problem before. There’s a fix for that, though: Daily Digestive Essentials contains the same amount of lactase as lactaid, so it can help alleviate that discomfort if you take it before eating dairy (which is great if you can’t live without your daily bowl of ice cream).
The term “sugar alcohols” is misleading because — unlike what it seems — it’s not the sugars found in alcohol. Instead, sugar alcohols are carbohydrates that are sweet like regular sugar, but not fully digested by the body. This means it doesn’t have the same impact on insulin levels as sugar, but still retains the same sweet taste.
Sugar alcohols come in many different names, including:
- Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates
And more. You’ll most often find them on low-sugar and no-sugar foods (like sugar-free gum and in some protein bars).
So why do sugar alcohols cause bloating? It all comes down to how they’re digested (or not digested in this case). Like foods high in FODMAPs, sugar alcohols are fermented in the large intestine, which can cause bloating and discomfort.
There’s one notable exception to this rule: monk fruit sweetener. Monk fruit sweetener is a type of sugar alcohol that’s 25 to 100 times sweeter than regular sugar and acts the same way as other types of sugar alcohols. However, unlike other sugar alcohols, monk fruit sweetener doesn’t have any known side effects like bloating and abdominal discomfort. Research even shows it might even help fight inflammation in the body.
Do I need to cut out foods that cause bloating and gas?
If the gas and bloating you experience after eating these foods is interfering in your everyday life, you need to talk to your doctor who can test for allergies and intolerances. Your doctor might also recommend that you try an elimination diet — like a low FODMAP diet — to identify specific causes.
However, while certain foods might cause you to experience bloating and gas at certain times, it’s not always necessary to cut them out of your diet totally. If you don’t have a medical condition, then some of the best options available to you are to listen to your body and make sure you have your Daily Digestive Essentials on hand. Simply take it with your first bite of food to ensure you’re getting the most out of your meals.