At one point or another we have all experienced bloating. That uncomfortable feeling of a swollen or enlarged belly after eating is usually caused by gas or other digestive issues.
Bloating is quite common – about 16-30% of people say they experience it regularly. And it is usually caused by something in the diet. Here are 13 of the most common foods that cause bloating and some alternatives that are easier on your system.
Beans are a type of legume that are high in protein, fiber, and healthy carbs as well as many vitamins and minerals. Most beans, however, contain sugars called alpha-galactosides which belongs to a group of carbs called FODMAPs.
FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that don’t get digested and are then fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. The by-product of this process is gas.
Individuals who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome fall victim to another gas that is formed during the fermentation process. This gas can cause bloating, cramps, flatulence, and diarrhea.
To help reduce FODMAPs and beans, try soaking and sprouting them. Change the soaking water often to reduce FODMAPs even more.
Black and pinto beans are the best beans for sensitive digestive systems because they are more easily digestible, especially after soaking. Try replacing beans with grains, meat, and quinoa as well.
Lentils are also legumes, so they are high in protein, fiber, and carbs as well as iron, copper, and manganese.
Due to their high fibre content, lentils could irritate some sensitive individuals especially those who aren’t used to eating a lot of fiber. They are also high in FODMAPs that can contribute to excessive gas and bloating.
Soaking and sprouting lentils will help to cut down on FODMAPs and make them easier on the digestive system. A good alternative is light colored lentils, which are usually lower in fiber than darker lentils.
Carbonated drinks are a very common cause of bloating, as they contain a gas called carbon dioxide that is consumed when you drink these beverages.
Some of this gas gets trapped in the digestive system and can lead to bloating and cramping. The best alternative to this is to drink water, but if you need something with flavor try coffee, tea, or fruit-infused water.
Wheat has been a hot topic in recent years because it contains a protein called gluten. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, wheat causes major digestive problems including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
Wheat is also a major source of FODMAPs, which are known to cause digestive problems in some people.
Some options to wheat that are gluten-free are pure oats, quinoa, buckwheat, almond flour, and coconut flour. There are many options to conventional wheat bread which include many of these substitutions.
Broccoli and Other Cruciferous Vegetables
The cruciferous vegetable family includes cauliflower, broccoli, cabbages, brussel sprouts, and several others. These vegetables are very healthy and are great sources of fiber, vitamins C and K, iron, and potassium.
They are a source of FODMAPs however, but cooking them is a good way of reducing them and making them easier to digest. Some great alternatives are spinach, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, lettuce or zucchini.
Onions are a common bulb vegetable that are used in cooked meals, side dishes and in salads.
Onions are one of the main dietary sources of fructans, which are soluble fibers that can cause bloating. Some people are also sensitive to other compounds found in onions which can cause some digestive problems.
A good alternative is to cook onions whenever you can to reduce their negative effects, or try using herbs and spices to add flavour to your meals.
Barley is a common cereal grain that is very nutritious because it is rich in fiber and contains a high amount of vitamins and minerals such a manganese, molybdenum, and selenium.
Barley’s high fiber content could lead to digestive problems in some people, as well as the fact that it contains gluten. A good alternative is refined barley, like pearl and scotch because they are more easily digestible.
Barley can also be replaced with grains and other pseudocereals like oats, quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat.
Rye is a cereal grain that is related to wheat and is an excellent source of fiber, manganese, phosphorus, copper, and B-vitamins.
With its high fiber content and the fact that it contains gluten, rye may cause bloating in individuals who are intolerant to gluten or do not consume high amounts of fiber regularly.
Great alternatives are other grains or pseudo-cereals like oats, brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa.
Dairy is well known to be a great source of calcium and protein. However, about 75% of the world’s population can’t break down the sugar found in milk called lactose. This is known as lactose intolerance.
If you are lactose intolerant, eating dairy can lead to digestive problems like bloating, gas, cramps, and diarrhea.
Some people who are lactose intolerant can handle cream and butter or fermented dairy products like yogurt. Lactose-free products are also available, as well as milk alternatives like soy, almond, coconut, or rice milk.
Apples are one of the most common fruits in the world and are filled with fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C. Healthy as they are, they have been known to cause digestive problems in some people.
Apples contain sugars called fructose, which is a FODMAP, and the high fiber content. Fructose and fiber can be digested in the large intestine, and may cause gas and bloating.
Cooked apples are easier to digest, and some other fruit alternatives are bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, mandarins, and oranges.
Garlic is a popular ingredient in cooking, as well as a health remedy. Like onions, garlic contains fructans, which are FODMAPs that contribute to bloating. Allergies or other intolerance to compounds found in garlic may lead to bloating, belching, and gas.
Cooking garlic helps reduce these effects, and other alternatives to add flavor to your meals are herbs and spices such as thyme, chives, parsley, and basil.
Sugar alcohols are used to take the place of regular sugar in sugar-free foods. Some popular types include xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol.
Sugar alcohols are also FODMAPs that cause digestive products because they reach the large intestine unchanged where the gut bacteria feeds on them. Consuming high amounts of sugar alcohols can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
A good alternative is stevia, a natural plant product that can be used as a natural sweetener. Erythritol is also a sugar alcohol but it is easier to digest than other sugar alcohols.
The term beer belly can be used to describe the excess belly fat caused by drinking beer, or the bloated feeling one gets after consuming beer.
Beer is a carbonated beverage, who’s many of its ingredients contain fermentable carbs and gluten. These can lead to bloating and cramping in most individuals, especially those sensitive to gluten.
Water is the best beverage to drink for your body, but if you’re looking for an alcoholic alternative try red or white wine, or spirits which are less likely to cause bloating.
Bloating is a common problem in most people and can be taken care of easily by making small changes to your everyday diet. If you have persistent digestive problems, consider a low FODMAP diet to help in solving those issues. These suggestions can help in solving not just bloating, but also other digestive problems you experience every day.