Foods that cause bloating

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If you experience an occasional bloated stomach it may be linked to the food you eat. Certain foods are more difficult for the body to digest and can lead to an uncomfortable feeling. Foods that cause bloating in some people won’t necessarily cause it in someone else. It depends on how well an individual digests certain components of food and the type of bacteria in their digestive tract.1 Some of the more common offenders include:

  1. Cruciferous vegetables – Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower may cause bloating in some people. This is because the body cannot fully digest the carbohydrates in these foods, which are fermented by the bacteria in the large intestine. This process causes a buildup of gas and associated bloating.1
  2. Legumes – The human body lacks the enzymes needed to break down “galactans”, which are found in chickpeas, black‐eyed peas, kidney beans and lentils, and may cause digestive distress and bloating in some people.2
  3. Garlic and onions – Garlic and onions are high in fructans, which are difficult to digest and can contribute to bloating, gas and pain.2
  4. Certain fruit – Apples, peaches and pears can sometimes cause bloating and discomfort.1
  5. Carbonated beverages – Carbonated beverages such as soft drink can cause gas to build up and lead to bloating.3
  6. Fruit juices and high‐fructose corn syrup (HFCS) drinks‐ Fruit juices especially apple and pear and other drinks that contain HFCS can cause abdominal tightness in some people.1 HFCS is also found in some sauces and syrups.2
  7. Milk and milk products – Milk, cheese, ice‐cream, yoghurt and other dairy products can cause bloating in those who are lactose intolerant.1
  8. Chewing gum – Chewing gum may cause bloating for two reasons: it can make you swallow excessive amounts of air and often contains gas‐producing artificial sweeteners.3
  9. Sugar‐free foods – Sugar‐free substitutes such as mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol can lead to bloating in some people as they’re difficult for the body to digest.3 These are often found in sugar‐free products, lollies, chewing gum, mints and cough drops. If you think these could be the culprit for your symptoms, look out for ingredients ending in –ol.
  10. Whole grains such as whole wheat and bran – Whole grains can sometimes cause bloating.1 This could be due to the fibre content, which is fermented by the bacteria in the digestive tract, or caused by an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat and some other grains.
  11. Dried fruit – Eating dried fruit can be problematic for some people. This is because it contains very high fructose levels. The absorption capacity of fructose appears to vary from person to person. When fructose is incompletely absorbed in the small intestine, it’s delivered to the large intestine where it contributes to rapid fermentation and associated abdominal bloating.2

If you experience regular bloating after meals, it may be beneficial to keep a food diary to determine which foods may be causing your symptoms. Once you know your triggers, you can either avoid or at least limit your consumption for bloating relief.

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Published November 27, 2014
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