Bloating is when your belly won’t fit in your trousers, it would just feel so swollen like you’ve eaten too much when, in fact, you haven’t. Bloating is usually caused by gas or other underlying digestive problems (1). It is quite common to feel bloated. Around 16-30% of people say they experience it on a regular basis (2). Sometimes, bloating can hide serious digestive problems, but usually, it just is something caused by what you’ve eaten. There are certain foods which can cause bloating more than others and we’ve comprised a list of 15 such foods which you should avoid if you have, say, an important meeting afterward and can’t risk getting all gassy.
Foods that cause bloating
Here’s the list of 15 foods that cause bloating
Beans are, probably, the most “famous” type of food which can cause bloating (3). Beans are healthy, overall. They contain protein and healthy carbs, as well as fiber, minerals, and vitamins (4). Nevertheless, beans contain fermentable sugars, short-chain carbohydrates that escape digestion and are fermented by the gut bacteria from the colon (5). This whole process produces gas. It shouldn’t cause any problems unless you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. In this case, beans can cause discomfort, from bloating (6), flatulence (7), to even cramps and diarrhea (8).
Summary: Beans are very healthy, rich in protein, healthy carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, they do have short-chain carbohydrates that ferment in the gut, causing gas production. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, beans may cause bloating, flatulence, cramps, or diarrhea.
Although a very healthy vegetable that can do your body good, broccoli also contains short-chain carbohydrates that are harder to digest (9) and thus can create a certain level of discomfort for some people. If you know you are sensitive to these types of FODMAP-containing foods, or you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, you should just stay away from vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli. Studies have shown that “reduction of short-chain poorly absorbed carbohydrates (FODMAPs) in the diet reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (10).
Summary: Broccoli is very healthy, but it also contains short-chain carbohydrates that are hard to digest. Eating less of similar vegetables as well like spinach and kale could help relieve bloating. They are classified as high FODMAP foods, and for those with irritable bowel syndrome, may cause bloating and discomfort.
Garlic is rich in fructans (11), which is a type of sugar. Current Gastroenterology Reports show that some humans lack the enzymes necessary to break down fructans in the small intestine (12). This means that fructans are delivered to the colon where they ferment and cause your stomach to bloat (13). If you just don’t want to get bloated over and over again, you can try other alternative seasonings that can stand for garlic’s taste in your food.
Summary: Garlic contains fructans, which is a type of sugar. Some people lack the enzyme to break down fructans in the small intestine. Undigested fructans are then fermented in the gut, releasing excess gas and causing you to bloat. Try alternative seasonings if you notice garlic causes bloating.
Onions are usually avoided before important business meetings, exams or any kind of social meet-ups which can result in you talking in front of other people. You can guess the reason. Nevertheless, bad breath cannot be the only motive why you should avoid eating onions. Like garlic, onions contain fructans (14). This kind of sugar is quite complex for your small intestine to digest (15). It’s not a joke, because, if you suddenly increase your normal intake of fructan-rich foods, you can get really serious gastrointestinal problems. Anyways, you probably already know what eating a lot of onions feels like.
Summary: Onions, like garlic, also contain fructans. Fructan-rich food is hard to digest, especially if you lack the enzyme to break it down. It may cause bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort, so avoid onions if you notice frequent bloating after consuming them.
Mushrooms are tasty, especially on pizza, in soup or sautéed with herbs and spices. Nevertheless, mushrooms are a common cause of bloating because they contain polyols (16), some kind of sugar alcohols, with fewer calories than normal sugar, but with more than artificial sweeteners. So, if you eat too much sugar alcohols at one time, you can get several digestive problems, including bloating and gas (17). So, if you’ve noticed mushrooms are one cause of you getting bloated, just steer clear of them. If you are really a mushrooms’ fan and you just can’t stop eating mushrooms ever, there are also some tricks which you can try to avoid bloating without skipping the meal. You should drink a lot of water, go for a high-fiber diet and eat everything slowly, and smaller portions more often. Since bloating usually comes with large meals, if you try to respect these rules above you might steer clear of bloating and still keep eating what your soul really desires.
Summary: Mushrooms are tasty and healthy. However, they may cause bloating because they contain polyols. Polyols are sugar alcohols that if eaten in large quantities can cause several digestive problems such as bloating and gas. Try eating smaller amounts of mushrooms, or steer clear of them altogether if you notice consistent gas and bloating after consuming them.
Corn on the cob is something you cannot really avoid, especially during summertime. There is no such thing as a barbeque, without corn on the cob, right? Well, your body might have another opinion as it really strives to digest corn. This food contains a lot of cellulose (18), which is a type of insoluble fiber (19). Nevertheless, foods high in insoluble fiber can be beneficial for digestion as long as they’re part of an overall balanced diet seasoned with some soluble fiber-rich foods as well. Still, if tons of corn is your style, then things will get out of balance really fast and bloating is sure to follow.
Summary: Corn is high in cellulose, a type of insoluble fiber. Foods high in insoluble fiber can be beneficial, but when eaten in excess, could cause bloating and gas. Eat smaller amounts of corn if you notice consistent bloating.
7. Frozen meals
Frozen meals are convenient and they are the ultimate food solution of our 21st century. Still, they can be a disaster for your digestive system, leaving you all bloated and aching. Frozen meals are usually full of saturated fat and sodium (20) – digestion’s nightmare. Moreover, frozen meals have a lot of added sugars which can also cause some bad health problems, and almost no fiber and protein, which will totally wreck your digestive system. It’s true, everyone gets to eat a frozen meal now and then when on the run and some are better than others. In any case, you should try to avoid frozen meal as much as possible and if you really have to eat one, please make sure you eat one of the best, that means less processed and added sugars.
Summary: Frozen meals often contain little to no fiber or protein, and are generally high in saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium. This combination can cause poor gut health, leading to an unhealthy digestive system. Make your own food as often as possible.
“Pizza saves every problem” is probably the sentence you’ve heard very often when it comes to everyone’s favorite dish. Moreover, you might be tempted to wonder: what could be so wrong regarding pizza? Well, your body is actually having a hard time whenever you deliver it with a big, fatty pizza, which is usually high in sodium and salt which causes bloating on a high level (21, 22).
Summary: Eating high amounts of saturated fat and sodium can cause bloating and indigestion. Avoid pizza with a lot of pepperoni, cheese, sausage, or fatty meats, which are high in both salt and fat. Instead, try adding leaner protein and vegetables to help relieve bloating.
9. Spicy foods
There are a lot of people who just adore spicy foods. There are also those who don’t understand what’s to adore. Moreover, there are scientists who could say that eating spicy can trigger the release of a lot more stomach acid which will cause a lot more bloating than usual (23, 24). If you’re feeling too much discomfort, just cut down on spicy food, ok?
Summary: Spicy food could potentially be causing you to bloat. Scientists say that eating spicy food triggers the release of more stomach acid, which could cause more bloating than normal. If you love spicy food but often feel bloated, cut down on the spice.
Kiwis are really good fruits which can help with reducing constipation (25). Studies also show that reducing constipation can cause an increase in the gas levels and therefore, bloating can happen after consuming a kiwi (26, 27). The bottom line is: Kiwi is a quite good fruit that promotes laxation and gastric motility and can cause bloating as a side effect (28).
Summary: Kiwi is a very healthy fruit that may help relieve constipation. However, reducing constipation may increase gas in the gut, which leads to bloating. Kiwi is a great fruit to eat if you often feel constipated, but does have a small bloating side effect.
Yes, gum is not really a food, but chewing on too much gum throughout the day can wreck your digestive system for multiple reasons: first, you swallow a lot of air which leads to bloating (29). Sugar-free gum contains sorbitol and xylitol which are fermented by bacteria in the gut and will cause even more bloating (30, 31).
Summary: Swallowing gum in general is not great for the digestive system. It causes you to swallow air, which leads to excess air in the stomach, thus bloating. Sugar-free gums also contain sorbitol and xylitol, which are hard to digest and can ferment in the gut, causing excess bloating.
12. Dairy products
If you have problems with digestion and go see a nutritionist, he’ll normally advise against dairy products. It’s true they’re good and all, but they contain large doses of lactose, which, funny enough, many adults have a hard time digesting (32). Milk is one of the biggest offenders here (33), but also cheese, yogurt, and ice cream can cause a massive bloating as well (34, 35). You can replace milk with some coconut milk to observe if the same symptoms are present. It might actually help a little.
Summary: Dairy contains large doses of lactose. This sugar is often hard to digest, especially if you don’t have the proper enzyme to break it down. Replace regular milk with almond, coconut, soy, or rice milks, and try dairy-free cheeses and yogurts if you often experience bloating.
13. Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are attractive these days because this is how you try to run away from sugar calories. Nevertheless, artificial sweeteners can mess with your gut (36) and even make you consume more and more and it’s not that you only use these artificial sweeteners in coffee or tea. Actually, they’re found in chewing gum, sodas, candy, and other low-calorie foods. So, just try to avoid them as much as possible. The names are: sorbitol and fructose.
Summary: Sorbitol and fructose are artificial sweeteners that are consumed often and cause bloating. These sugars are often hard to digest, causing excess gas build-up in the gut. Avoid consuming these sugars as often as possible.
Wheat is not so bad for people who don’t have gluten intolerance or are not allergic to wheat. Nevertheless, wheat can be hard on your digestion. The inability to properly break down the carbohydrates present in wheat products can lead to bloating (37) and other digestive problems. If you feel you’re one of these people, there are other possibilities for you: quinoa, buckwheat, pure oats, almond flour or even coconut flour.
Summary: Some people have a hard time digesting wheat. The inability to break down the carbohydrates in wheat could lead to bloating due to fermentation in the gut. Try quinoa, buckwheat, gluten-free oats, and almond or coconut flours, which may be easier to digest.
Rye is a not-so-distant “relative” of wheat. Rye is a good nutritious source of fiber, manganese, copper, B-vitamins or even phosphorus (38). Nevertheless, rye is rich in gluten, a protein that many people are intolerant to. Even so, even if you’re not sensitive to gluten, the high fiber and gluten content from rye might cause bloating (39).
Summary: Rye is highly nutritious, including fiber, manganese, copper, B-vitamins, and phosphorus. However, it does contain gluten, which often causes bloating in some individuals. The combination of high fiber and gluten content of rye may cause bloating. Avoid rye if you notice symptoms after consuming it.
Bloating can hide serious digestive problems or can be just something that happens from time to time due to certain compounds in certain foods. It’s good to identify those foods that you feel you have a hard time digesting and try to replace them with something else. What we’ve done here is comprise a list of 15 foods that cause bloating. Nevertheless, this list can differ from one person to another, so you should, in the end, make your own list of foods which give you a hard time and then make another list of foods you could use to replace those. Stay healthy!