Feeling bloated and gassy again? We know exactly how much of a nuisance such problems can be and how significantly they can affect your day-to-day activities. But hey, there is no reason to despair and just accept that your belly will stick at every given opportunity. Abdominal bloating is actually a very common health issue, but also one that can be prevented in most cases. As diet plays a major role in leaving a bloated stomach behind, this article will focus on foods that cause bloating and those that prevent it.
Bloating and bad diet are best friends!
Naturally, abdominal bloating can be related to a number of underlying health conditions, such as chronic bowel diseases, lactose intolerance or celiac disease, blockage in the bowel or even certain types of cancer. It can even be caused by certain medications.
However, just like we explain in the article Easy ways to reduce abdominal bloating, this issue normally has to do with an unhealthy lifestyle, especially by what we eat and how we do it. Living off of fast-food that’s robbed of vital nutrients, such as fibre, and filled with salt and saturated fats instead can cause too much gas building up in your gut and thus get your digestive system in trouble. As bloating and gas usually go hand in hand with slow digestion, improving your diet is therefore one of the key steps in overcoming the nasty belly bloat and avoiding constipation.
There are also healthy foods that cause bloating!
But – and promise you won’t be mad when we tell you that – it’s often also the healthy foods that cause gas and bloating. We can, for example, find some of the main culprits for a bloated belly in the category of vegetables, especially those high in fiber. This is probably the reason eating beans, lentils, broccoli, cabbage or sprouts doesn’t seem to do your intestines any favour.
Especially foods that contain a high amount of soluble fiber tend to make people more bloated and gassy than usual as this type of fiber is more difficult to digest. However, don’t ever think you can just remove fiber from your diet and live happily ever after. Fiber is crucial for a healthy digestive system as it speeds up your digestion and helps your body with cholesterol management.
What you need to do instead is give your body the chance to adapt and increase the amount of fiber in your diet slowly and gradually. Also keep in mind that foods containing the soluble type of fiber (oats, peas, nuts, beans) will make you more bloated and gassier than veggies and foods mostly containing insoluble fiber.
And one more thing … Everybody is different!
Many of you probably wonder if there is a definitive list of foods that cause bloating and should be universally avoided by all those who are facing a bloated belly. Well, the truthful answer is yes and no.
While we definitely know which are the most common foods that lead to gas and bloating, we also need to acknowledge that everybody reacts differently to certain food items.
Learning which foods give our digestive system a hard time is therefore crucial in overcoming bloating issues. It’s definitely worth knowing which foods we might be allergic to and which intolerances we suffer from. As allergies prevent our gut from emptying properly, food we shouldn’t eat can cause gasses to build up behind the trapped stool.
Bloating and constipation can be related to common intolerances or allergies, such as:
- Egg allergy
- Lactose intolerance
- Gluten intolerance
- Fructose intolerance
However, if you don’t suffer from any of the above conditions, it’s definitely worth checking the universal list of foods that cause bloating, gas and even stomach cramps.
A list of foods that cause bloating and gas!
So, which foods cause belly bloat or are at least likely to do so, especially if eaten excessively? Before we list the suspects, let us remind you once again that a balanced diet is key to a healthy digestive system and that the inclusion on the below list does not mean that these items should be banned from your fridge and cupboards. If you have no medical condition that requires a special diet, stick to moderation and, especially in the case of fruits and vegetables, try to get your gut used to fibre before giving up on certain foods.
So, what foods cause gas and bloating?
Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, broad beans) are at the top of the list of foods that cause bloating. The reason for this is raffinose, a complex carbohydrate composed of glucose, fructose, and galactose. The human body lacks the enzymes needed to break down raffinose, so it passes undigested to the large intestine where it is fermented by bacteria. This process results in bloating.
Milk and most dairy products, including some cheeses and ice cream, contain milk sugar, or lactose. People with total or partial lack of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, suffer from intestinal gas. Along with bloating, triggered by lactose, diarrhea can also occur.
Wholegrain cereals are rich in raffinose and fibre which cause excessive production of intestinal gas due to bacterial activity. The only cereal that does not cause bloating is rice.
Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, and cauliflower also contain raffinose and can cause bloating. Nonetheless, they should be part of any diet and consumed in several smaller portions over the day.
Fruit such as apples, peaches, pears, and plums contain sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol, in addition to soluble fibre. This contributes to bacterial activity in the large intestine and causes bloating.
Chewing gum can lead to swallowing excess air. Furthermore, some chewing gums are sweetened with sugar alcohols that are harder to digest, such as sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol.
A list of foods that can prevent bloating
Are there also foods that prevent bloating and gas or at least make it easier for our intestines to process them without extra gass? Besides eating mindfully and avoiding large amounts or air being swallowed during every meal, regularly exercising and making sure your transition to a healthy diet is gradual enough to let your body accommodate, there are definitely also some food items that will make you safe from a bloated belly.
So, what foods prevent bloating and gas?
Dill seeds have been used for centuries to aid digestion and prevent bloating and stomach cramps. They owe this effect mainly to anethole, an active substance that relaxes smooth muscles, including those of the digestive tract. If dill seeds are not part of a meal (in bread, soups, vegetable dishes), dill seed tea can be consumed after meals. They also go well with salads.
Pineapple is high in bromelain, an enzyme that aids in the digestion of proteins. Most of the bromelain is in the stem, which is edible, if not as tasty..
Papaya contains papain, an enzyme that aids in the digestion of proteins. Papaya is an excellent addition to salads.
Basil is not only delicious, but an excellent aid in reducing bloating. Always use fresh basil as opposed to dried. Fresh leaves should be bright green and free of damage.
Yoghurt or kefir
Yoghurt and kefir contain natural probiotics, or “good” bacteria. These impede the growth of “bad” bacteria that produce excessive intestinal gas.
Ginger contains zingibain, an enzyme that aids in the digestion of proteins. It is an excellent addition to savoury and sweet dishes, soups, and salads. Ginger should be consumed in moderation; people with ulcerative colitis and pregnant women should be especially cautious. The recommended daily dose of fresh ginger is 1 g.
And if nothing works, make sure you talk to your doctor
So, you’ve been eating foods that prevent bloating while avoiding those that make it worse, you are active and a slow eater. But the issue still doesn’t want to go away …
In this case, your digestive issues may be related to a more serious health issue that requires medical attention. If you feel especially weak, lack appetite or fight with severe stomach pain, diarrhea, fever and vomiting, you might be showing symptoms of chronic digestive issues. It’s important that you make an exam appointment, diagnose the problem and treat it in the best way possible.
To make sure you stay safe from bloating, we’ve also compiled a short list of frequently asked questions regarding foods that cause or prevent bloating. Make sure to remember the crucial info and save your belly from all the trouble!
Are foods that cause bloating bad for your digestive system?
Experts agree that both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, are needed to give our digestion the boost that it needs. Fiber makes your stool bulkier and softer, thus easing its way through the intestinal tract and out of the body.
You should therefore not exclude foods such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beans, lentils, and others mentioned above from your diet. Their nutritional value and high vitamin and mineral content are actually crucial for your overall health. However, to prevent bloating and reduce the burden on the digestive system, foods that might give you gas and bloating should be consumed in several smaller portions over the day.
Should I create my own list of foods that cause bloating and gas?
If you frequently suffer from digestive issues such as gas or bloating, it makes sense to pay special attention to what you eat and note down how you feel after each meal. This way, you will compile a list of foods that are very likely to make you bloated or gassy. You might try to eat them only in smaller portions or, if this approach doesn’t help, avoid them completely.
How to include more foods that prevent bloating in my diet?
You can add dill seeds to salad or your home-made bread dough. Pineapples and papayas also make for great salads and can freshen up a summer snack with ease. As for the basil, its leaves are a welcome addition to virtually any pasta dish while a basil tea is a great idea on a chilly winter evening. And if you like ginger, you can add it almost anywhere, from soups to desserts. It can also be a great snack on its own.