Learn about 13 foods that cause bloating!

Women's Best Health Team

Reading time: 5min

Does your belly feel swollen or enlarged after eating? We help you understand why you feel bloated and which foods actually cause bloating. This way, you can easily adjust your diet and that achy feeling in your stomach will soon be history!

First things first: what causes bloating?

Feeling puffy and bloated after a meal, is usually caused by gas or other digestive issues. About 30% of people say they experience it regularly. Bloating is often caused when your body has to work hard to digest certain types of food. Certain carbohydrates for example produce gas when transformed by your digestive system, leading to a bloated belly. There are certain vegetables that cause bloating, but also your eating habits can lead to you not feeling your best. 

Fortunately, there is a lot you can do once you know where to start. One simple way to make you feel better is to avoid the different types of food that causes bloatin.

As a lot of the vegetables in the following list are a natural source of protein, we have some options for you to ensure that your protein needs are always met:

Below, you find a list of 13 foods that cause bloating:

#1 Beans

Beans are a type of legume, high in protein and also very rich in fiber, as well as several vitamins and minerals. However, beans have indigestible sugars called oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are short-chain carbohydrates that escape digestion and are then fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. Gas is a byproduct of this process. For healthy people, they should not cause any bloating, but for individuals with a sensitive gut, another type of gas is formed during the fermentation process. This may cause symptoms like bloating and discomfort. If you’re dealing with fresh or dried beans, soak them overnight. The water retains some of those sugars, making it easier for your stomach to process the food. Some beans are easier on the digestive system. Pinto beans and black beans may be more digestible, especially after soaking.

#2 Lentils

Lentils are also one type of vegetable that causes bloating. They contain high amounts of protein and minerals such as iron, copper, and manganese. Because of their high fiber content, they can cause bloating in sensitive individuals. This is especially true for people who are not used to eating a lot of fiber. Like beans, lentils also contain oligosaccharides, which may contribute to excessive gas production and bloating. Red lentils are easier to digest than black ones.

#3 Carbonated Drinks

Carbonated drinks are another very common cause of bloating. These drinks contain high amounts of a gas called carbon dioxide. When you drink one of these beverages, you end up swallowing large amounts of air and gas. Some of the gas gets trapped in the digestive system, which can cause bloating. So, what to drink instead? Plain water is always the best idea, or simply drinks that are not carbonated. You could also try one of our healthy smoothie powders to add some flavor to your drink.

#4 Fruits

Very sweet fruits like cherries and grapes have a very high level of fructose. About 30 to 40% of all people can’t fully absorb fructose, which leads to bloating, gas, and digestive issues.

#5 Wheat

Wheat has been highly controversial in the past few years, mainly because it contains a protein called gluten. It is an ingredient in most baked goods, breads, cakes or pastas. For people with gluten sensitivity, wheat causes major digestive problems. This includes bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain. There are many gluten-free alternatives to wheat, such as pure oats, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, almond flour, and coconut flour.

#6 Cruciferous vegetables

Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are super-healthy, but can be hard to digest for some people. They belong to the family of cruciferous vegetables which contain raffinose — a sugar that remains undigested until bacteria in your gut ferments it, which produces gas and, in turn, makes you bloat. Don’t stop eating these greens, as they are really good for you, but avoid too large portion sizes. And don’t eat it raw! Cooking softens the fiber and shrinks the portion as some of the water cooks out, so it takes up less space in the GI tract.

#7 Onions

You already know that onions cause a bad breath, but did you know they can also make your belly swell? Onions are a major source of fructans, a class of oligosaccharides, or complex sugars, that the small intestine can’t break down. For this reason, fructans can contribute to bloating, gas, and pain.

#8 Dairy Products

About 75% of the world’s population can’t break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This condition is known as lactose intolerance. If you’re lactose intolerant, dairy can cause major digestive problems. Symptoms include bloating, gas, cramping, and diarrhea. The good news: People who are lactose intolerant can sometimes handle cream and butter, or fermented dairy like yogurt. Lactose-free milk products are also available. Other alternatives to regular milk include coconut, almond, soy or rice milk.

#9 Apples

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples are extremely good for you, they are high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, and have been linked to a range of health benefits. However, apples have also been known to cause bloating and other digestive issues for some people. The culprits are fructose and the high fiber content. Fructose and fiber can both be fermented in the large intestine, and may cause gas and bloating. Cooked apples may be easier to digest than fresh ones.

#10 Salty foods

Eating foods that are high in salt and sodium can trigger water retention, which can balloon you up. About 90% of Americans consume more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet. Processed and packed foods like soups, chips, pizza or bread are usually very high in sodium, so always check the food labels. When you tend to eat too much salt, drink a lot of water to help flush it out.

#11 Garlic

Like onions, garlic contains fructans, which can cause bloating. However, cooking the garlic may reduce these effects. Also try using herbs and spices in your cooking, such as thyme, parsley, chives or basil.

#12 Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are used to replace sugar in diet sodas and chewing gums. Common types include xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol but also aspartame, splenda or acesulfame K. They tend to cause digestive problems, since they reach the large intestine unchanged, where the gut bacteria feed them. Erythritol is also a sugar alcohol, but is easier on digestion than the ones mentioned above. Stevia is also a healthy alternative to sugar and sugar alcohols.

#13 Eating too quickly

Eating too quickly can cause you to swallow more air, causing or worsening bloating. Therefore, try to chew. Not only does this reduce the amount of excess air you’ll take in, but it also allows you to listen better to your body and stop eating when you feel full, which may aid weight loss.

And in case you have avoided all of these foods but still feel bloated? Here are some home remedies to reduce bloating:

 How to reduce bloating immediately:

  • peppermint tea
  • ginger tea
  • chamomile tea
  • fennel tea
  • chewing caraway seeds
  • hot-water bottle

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