Let’s explore the foods that cause gas, bloating, and flatulence. While bloating, belching, and flatulence are normal bodily functions – a result of the breakdown processes of digesting food, and/or swallowing air – gas and bloating can be embarrassing. It can interfere with your peace of mind and daily activities.
Gas, bloating and flatulence may be a sign of something serious such as gluten intolerance, malabsorption or food intolerance. For many people, though, it’s simply the result of a combination of things such as the food they eat, a diminished supply of digestive enzymes due to the aging process, vitamin deficiency, and/or poor dietary habits.
There are numerous reasons for excessive gas, bloating and flatulence, but diet often plays a crucial role. If you’d like to “clear the air,” temporarily avoiding certain foods known to cause flatulence and bloating can help to identify any dietary causes of gassiness.
Once gas-producing food sources have been eliminated and an Anti-Flatulence Diet implemented, other treatments like probiotic supplements, digestive enzymes, and gas reducing medicines may still need to be explored.
How To Reduce Gas, Bloating and Flatulence
The best place to begin to reduce and prevent gas and bloating is by tracking and, if necessary, altering your diet. For some, the results are satisfying, but often there are underlying problems that cannot be completely resolved through dietary changes.
Medicines, menopause, smoking, stress, the amount of air one swallows each day, vitamin deficiency, and gastrointestinal intolerances, and intestinal disease can all play a role in excess gas production.
What Foods Cause Bloating, Flatulence and Gas?
Keep Track of What You Eat
Keep a food diary with a record of what you’ve eaten and your body’s reaction to it. If you notice an increase in flatulence and bloating after eating specific foods, decrease or eliminate your intake of them.
If you’re having difficulty identifying flatulence and bloating-producing foods, make a list of foods you know are safe, and then add a new food every forty-eight hours to try to identify the problem food.
Looking into the FODMAP diet can also help to identify gas producing foods, as foods are categorized into ones that produce a lot of gas and ones that do not.
- Related Article: Low FODMAP Diet for IBS Relief
Keep in mind that everyone’s digestive system is different; some peoples’ systems struggle to break down certain foods while others can eat them without any problems. Some people may have a problem with 1 or 2 foods, while others have a problem with several.
Many carbohydrate-containing foods cause gas and bloating (vs. fats and proteins, which produce very little gas). Starch containing foods such as corn, noodles, pasta, potatoes, and wheat, also produce gas.
Learn more about foods that relieve gas and bloating.
Carbohydrates are the biggest culprits when it comes to gas producers because they’re made up of polysaccharides, which have long chains of difficult-to-digest sugars.
The carbohydrates found in some vegetables can produce gas, bloating and flatulence:
- Brussel sprouts
- Cabbage and sauerkraut
- Green peppers
- Legumes (i.e. black-eyed peas, bog beans, broad beans, field beans, lima beans, mung beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, baked beans, bean salads, chickpeas, lentils, lentil soup, peanuts, peanut butter, peas, dried peas, split-pea soup, soybeans, soy milk, tofu, and other soy products)
- Sweet peppers
Other gas/flatulence producing vegetables include,
Breads, grains, cereals, and nuts:
Some people can’t digest wheat properly which can lead to fermentation and gas build-up when eating wheat and wheat products such as,
- Breakfast cereals
- Whole grain breads
- Whole wheat flour
Other difficult to digest grains and nuts include,
- Oat bran
- Oat flour
- Rice bran
- Sesame flour
- Sunflower flour
- Wheat bran
The sugar lactose in dairy foods is a common cause of gas, which can sometimes be an indication of lactose intolerance.
This is a condition in which the lactose in milk and other dairy products can’t be properly digested. People with lactose intolerance have difficulty digesting dairy products such as
- Ice cream
- Salad dressings (cream based)
Often, though, they can eat aged or hard cheeses and sometimes yogurt without experiencing any digestive upset.
Eggs, while not technically a dairy product, cause gassiness for some people.
If you think you may be lactose intolerant, eliminate all dairy products from your diet for 10-14 days. Monitor your body’s response to see whether or not there is a reduction of flatulence. If reintroduction triggers recurrent symptoms, lactose intolerance is likely.
It’s best not to simply ignore it though. Learn more about what can happen if you ignore lactose intolerance.
Lactose intolerance can be managed by a reduction or elimination of dairy products from the diet or use of lactase supplements prior to eating dairy to help with digestion of the dairy products.
Dairy alternatives, like soy milk, almond milk or pea milk are available and can be used as a substitute for milk and milk products.
Fried food – such as anything pan- or deep-fried – along with fatty meats, gravies, pastries, rich creams, and some sauces are foods that can cause gas.
Apples, apricots, bananas, melons, peaches, pears, prunes, and raisins, as well as juices made from apples, grapes, and prunes can trigger gas and bloating.
Found in most fruits – as well as in beans, oat bran, and peas – soluble fiber doesn’t get broken down until it is further along in the intestine, which can result in gassiness. Insoluble fiber produces very little gas.
Other Food Products That Cause Gas
The sweeteners used in sugar-free candies and chocolate can cause digestive problems. Known as sugar alcohols, they’re found in an assortment of food products and beverages ranging from sugarless chewing gum and hardy candy, to sports, carbonated, and sparkling beverages.
- Related Article: Is Chocolate Good for IBS?
Beware of labels that say “sugar-free” as there’s a high likelihood that sugar alcohols have been used to replace the sugar. Erythritol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol are examples of common sugar alcohols, which are manufactured from cornstarch.
Additionally, carbonated drinks can cause bloating because the carbon dioxide bubbles are swallowed and increase the volume of gas in the intestinal tract.
Dark beer and red wine can also contribute to excess gas production.
Further Gas / Flatulence Facts to Consider
Many facts need to be taken into consideration when trying to determine what’s behind excess gas. Foods are by no means the only cause. Once diet has been explored, other common issues must be considered.
The Connection Between Menopause and Digestive Maladies
A lot of women say that their problems with digestion began during their peri-menopausal years…a transitional time prior to menopause that can begin as early as thirty-five.
One of the primary causes of digestive problems in women 45-55 years of age is hormonal imbalance. Gas and indigestion are often brought on by the natural slow down of the gastrointestinal tract’s processes as a woman ages.
- Related Article: IBS Symptoms in Women
Vitamin Deficiency and Digestive Disorders
As we age, the various systems of our bodies often don’t function as well as they used to. Men and women experience digestive disorders in middle age because their digestive systems are no longer as efficient at absorbing vitamins and nutrients from the food they eat. This coupled with the poor diets that many Americans consume is a sure-fire recipe for gassiness.
Malabsorption of vitamins and nutrients can result in abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, and gas. It’s important to give your digestive system a helping hand by taking a daily multivitamin. There is no other single thing you can do to improve your digestive health than to support your digestive system on a daily basis. Probiotics can help support the digestive tract and help maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria.
Habits, Health, and Digestive Dysfunction
Medicines, stress, smoking, and even the amount of air one swallows each day contribute to gas production.
Some prescription – narcotic pain medicines for example – and non-prescription medicines can cause gas. Ask your health care provider to review your list of medicines to give you guidance as to which to avoid and possible substitutes.
Stress can slow the digestive process and result in a build-up of intestinal gas. Managing stress through meditation, exercise, counseling, and medication if needed, can help reduce intestinal gas production.
Gastrointestinal infections, blockages, and various other digestive ailments can result in gassiness. For example, upper gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and gastroparesis (also known as delayed gastric emptying) can lead to chronic belching.
Swallowing too much air throughout the day can cause gas build-up. Reduce the amount of air you swallow:
- Eat and drink slowly
- Avoid talking while you eat, carbonated beverages, drinking through a straw, and/or chewing gum and eating hard candy
- Ensure dentures fit properly (poor-fitting dentures can cause excess air-swallowing when eating and drinking)
- Avoid smoking (air is inhaled and swallowed when you smoke)
The Anti – Flatulence Action Plan
Reducing intake of gas-producing foods is helpful for some people; unfortunately, many foods that cause gas are also extremely nutritious, so while avoidance may be a great solution for some, others may not wish to stop eating foods they love that are also good for them.
The odds are that gas problems will not completely disappear without additional interventions. An integrated, multi-pronged approach to gas, bloating, and flatulence includes diet and lifestyle changes, as well as multivitamin and probiotic supplementation. If constipation is an issue, this should also be addressed to help reduce bloating and gas.
This approach has proven to be the most effective and long-lasting way to reduce the volume of gas a person produces which, in turn, reduces bloating, flatulence, and discomfort.
Multivitamins and Probiotics
A failure to absorb vitamins and nutrients can result in abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, and gas. Yet digestive health is dependent upon receiving adequate nutrition every day.
A daily multivitamin helps support both the digestive system’s needs as well as your overall health. This is especially important if you have dietary limitations which may lead you to restrict consumption of certain vitamins and minerals.
An abundance of certain types of bacteria in your GI tract can cause bloating and gas.
Digestive enzymes prior to meals can greatly assist in the digestion of sugars/carbohydrates, allowing some people to eat foods that normally cause gas without the usual gassy side effects.
Beano is an example of a digestive enzyme that can help with breakdown of carbohydrates in foods like beans or vegetables that are difficult to digest.
Learn more about taking Probiotics vs Digestive Enzymes.
Foods That Cause Gas Final Thoughts
Excessive gas can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. It can also be an extremely challenging problem to solve, and there truly is no magical solution. Identifying the root cause is not always easy, and the odds are that even a thorough, knowledgeable, compassionate, and attentive health care provider may not be able to provide a quick or easy solution to this all-too-common issue.
And it may sound as though every food out there has the potential to cause gas…and to some degree this is true. However, some foods are “gassier” than others, and we have hopefully provided you with some guidance as to foods that tend not to be as gas producing.
Each person’s system is unique, so finding a solution that works to alleviate gas, bloating, and flatulence will require a bit of research and some trial and error. It will require a multi-pronged approach, including making a determination as to whether dietary changes are necessary.
Considering other contributors such as one’s stage of life and habits, and the implementation of dietary supplements including multivitamins, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.
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