Foods That Cause Bloating : The Foods That Make You Gassy | UMZU
It is not a pleasant feeling. You are doing everything you can to eat healthy but you still feel bloated, like someone has hooked you up to a helium machine and pumped you full of gas. Your stomach is distended and if you are not careful, you might let out a toot in the most embarrassing of places. Unfortunately, a number of foods that are considered healthy often do not sit well in the gut, which means that they cause gas and bloating. If you are trying to beat the bloat, you may need to limit the foods that are making you musical, here is what you need to know.
Why some foods cause gas
According to the National Institutes of Health, “gas normally enters your digestive tract when you swallow air and when bacteria in your large intestine break down certain undigested foods. You may have more gas in your digestive tract if you swallow more air or eat certain foods.” Releasing gas, or farting, as it is often unfortunately called, is an entirely normal activity. We release gas on a daily basis because it is a byproduct of undigested food. Usually it is quiet and does not smell. But sometimes, your odiferous emanations are caused by the foods we eat. When you eat foods, they drop down into the gut where your digestive system breaks them down into energy and waste. Gas is created when foods are difficult for your gut to break down into these two important components, and as a result, your body has gas leftover sitting in your gut.
These foods travel the long length of the intestines where they ferment and result in noxious bloating and gas. Gas is caused either by hearty foods that are too much work for the gut to break down or when your gut does not have enough of certain enzymes to break down dairy. Let’s take a closer look at some of the foods that can cause the most gas.
Foods that cause the most gas
It does not matter if a food is healthy if your body has trouble breaking it down to absorb its nutrients. If you have found yourself uncomfortable after a meal and you want to avoid the same embarrassing gas in the future, here is what you need to know.
1. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables ferment in the gut instead of being broken down and digested. As a result, they can make you, well, gassy. If you are familiar with kombucha or beer for example, then you know that sometimes when a food product starts to ferment, it can cause the production of gas bubbles. The only difference is that this carbonation ends up in your gut. These foods include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
2. Dairy and milk products
Some of us do not genetically have the enzymes necessary to break down lactose, a sugar found in many dairy products. Often, yogurt and fermented dairy, like kefir, is still digestible when you do not have the lactose enzyme because good gut bacteria found in the yogurt helps to break these foods down. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “the lactose in yogurt is digested more efficiently than other dairy sources of lactose because the bacteria inherent in yogurt assist with its digestion. The bacteria lactase survives the acidic conditions of the stomach, apparently being physically protected within the bacterial cells and facilitated by the buffering capacity of yogurt.” These dairy foods, however, may make you a tootin’ machine.
- Sour cream
- Whipped cream
3. Artificial sweeteners
We already know that artificial sweeteners are not good for you. Some research has shown that they actually cause us to eat more to replace the empty calories and it has also been said that they may actually change the way we taste so that more subtle natural foods are no longer satisfying. According to Harvard Health, “research suggests that they may prevent us from associating sweetness with caloric intake. As a result, we may crave more sweets, tend to choose sweet food over nutritious food, and gain weight. Participants in the San Antonio Heart Study who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese as people who didn’t drink diet soda.”
Additionally, artificial sweeteners are often hard to digest. Sorbitol, for example, cannot be broken down in the gut at all. Avoid artificial sweeteners whenever you can, nature was not meant to taste like that.
4. Soda and other carbonated beverages
Soda can often cause gas as can other carbonated beverages like sparkling and seltzer waters. Soda is often sweetened with fructose, a sweetener which is difficult for the body to break down. It is bad for you no matter how you slice it. If you enjoy a carbonated beverage but you do not want to experience gas as a result, consider kombucha instead. It is carbonated, but because it is a fermented food that contains probiotics, its benefits often outweigh its negatives. It can help digestion more than it hurts. Plus, it is delicious and it makes you feel great afterwards.
5. Chewing gum and hard candy
These are both bad habits to get into because they can cause gas. Chewing gum usually contains artificial sweeteners, which in itself causes gas, but gum also brings air into the gut which can make you toot, toot, toot. Hard candy has many of the same issues that chewing gum has. As you slurp in more air, it can get stuck in the digestive tract. It needs to come out one way or another, either in a burp at the mouth or flatulence at the anus. Some of us even slurp in air when we are nervous, which can again cause air to get stuck in the gut. And if you nervously chew gum at work, it is a double whammy.
6. Beans and lentils
Beans and lentils have the same issues that cruciferous vegetables have. They are hard to break down, so they sit in the gut and no matter how hard your gut tries to push them through, they remain there fermenting and creating bubbles. Legumes cause more gas if they are old, for example, dried beans that have been sitting in the pantry for too long. You can also make them easier to digest by soaking dried beans overnight before cooking them. Canned beans often cause more gas than dried beans and then there are lentils, which are just a lost cause. With all that soluble fiber, I have never met a lentil that sat well in my gut.
7. Whole grains
Certain types of whole grains can be hard for the body to break down. This is especially true for bran and whole wheat, which are tough food stuffs that may ferment in the digestive system and cause gas and bloating. If this is the case with you, you may want to limit your intake of whole grains or remove them and slowly add them back in again to see if it helps. According to the National Institutes of Health, you may also want to check whether you have Celiacs Disease or a gluten allergy. “Your stomach and small intestine don’t fully digest some of the carbohydrates—sugars, starches, and fiber—in the food you eat. Undigested carbohydrates will pass to your large intestine, which contains bacteria. These bacteria break down undigested carbohydrates and create gas in the process.”
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How to avoid gas and bloating
After a meal, you want to feel full and satiated, not gassy and bloated. Fiber is important but sometimes the gasiness is not worth it if your body cannot digest certain foods. If you want to avoid the bloat and gas in your diet, here is what you need to know:
1. Don’t eat so much.
Keep your portions smaller. If you eat too much in one sitting, it can cause a world of hurt in terms of bloating. If possible, it is best to break your day down into 5-6 smaller meals per day and to choose foods that are not so rich. They are harder for your gut to break down because of the excessive heavy fats and dairy.
2. Slow down.
Eating too fast means that your brain does not get the signal before you become full. If you slow down, then your belly can catch up to your brain so that you know that you are full in time to beat the bloat.
3. Avoid artificial sweeteners, chewing gum, and sodas
All of these foods are inherently unhealthy and unnecessary in your diet. Artificial sweeteners, as mentioned above, often cause gas because the digestive system has trouble breaking them down and chewing gum and hard candies cause you to inhale excess air, which then turns to gas in the gut.
4. Avoid gas promoting foods
Certain foods may contain ample nutrients, but if the body cannot break them down, then it is not worth the trouble they cause in the gut. If you often feel uncomfortable after eating cruciferous vegetables and you do not like the idea of them fermenting and making kombucha in your gut, then it may be worth giving them up. The same is true of legumes and lentils. I used to love lentils, but it was non’t worth the bloat, so I finally had to say no more.
5. Check your medications
Certain medications can cause gas as a side effect. If you have checked your diet, your portions, and eating speed, then it may be worth taking a look at your medications and talking to your doctor about whether they might be to blame.
6. Twist it out
Sometimes things get stuck and they need some help getting unstuck, in which case, a little yoga can help a great deal in getting things moving. Yoga twists can be particularly helpful in relieving gas. Twists compress the intestines and help blood and nutrients to flow through this part of the body. Try Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, Marichi’s Pose, or Revolving Side Angle. Sometimes when your stomach is sour, yoga twists are just what the doctor ordered.
Research has shown that regular exercise can help with digestion and gut health. A study published in the journal Immunology And Cell Biology found this to be true. The authors write “Emerging data from our laboratory show that different forms of exercise training differentially impact the severity of intestinal inflammation during an inflammatory insult (for example, ulcerative colitis).” The evidence supports rigorous investigations concerning the effects of habitual exercise on gut health and disease, write the study authors.
8. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is often a cause of gas. According to National Institutes of Health, those with IBS may be put on a special diet avoiding certain fruits and vegetables, dairy products, wheat and rye products, and foods that contain certain types of sweeteners. IBS can also be caused by stress which impacts the body’s ability to properly digest certain foods. Crohn’s Disease is another condition that makes digesting certain foods difficult.