It isn’t something that most of us like to talk about but the reality is, nearly everyone gets bloating and/or gas. For most people, this is just a normal, healthy, and relatively undisruptive fact of life; a natural result of foods being broken down and digested by the body.
However, some people may find that certain foods give them an uncomfortable amount of bloating and/or gas. This could be accompanied by stomach upset, which in some cases can even be painful. Many might not realise that a particular food is causing the issue, or may be too embarrassed to bring up the problem. As such, the problem food will continue to be eaten, causing more discomfort.
If you think a food might be causing you problems, but can’t quite put your finger on what, we’ve put together some unexpected foods that can give you bloating and/or gas. Take a look at the list below.
Apples are rich in fibre, which is essential in facilitating healthy digestion. However, some may find that high fibre foods like apples give them excessive gas and bloating. This is more common in those who have low fibre diets, where the digestive system isn’t used to the sudden increase in the body.
Bread is a staple food around the world, and most people can eat it regularly with very little problem at all. However, some might find that bread causes excessive gas and painful bloating. If you find that this happens to you after eating just a small amount, it could be the case that you have a wheat intolerance or gluten intolerance, which causes stress on the gut and digestive system.
Onions contain high levels of fructose, a natural sugar present in many fruits and vegetables. Some people have an inability to properly break down and absorb the sugar. If fructose isn’t absorbed into the bloodstream like it should be, it travels down into the lower bowel, providing a feast for the bacteria that live there. As the bacteria “eat” away on the fructose, methane is produced; this can cause bloating, gas, and cramps, and also bad breath. Not a great combination!
Whilst delicious and high in antioxidants, these innocent looking little hedgerow fruits are packed full of polyols. Polyols – also known as “sugar alcohols” – are carbohydrates commonly used in the synthesis of artificial sweeteners. Whilst less calorific than sugar, polyols take longer to break down, and stay in the digestion system for longer. This means they’re not always fully absorbed by the body, resulting in gas and bloating.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic with many health benefits but unfortunately it can result in gas for some individuals. Cooked garlic whether roasted or stir fried is much less likely to cause bloating and gas.
Alongside calcium and vitamin D milk contains many proteins including casein and whey. The proteins can be difficult to break down if the digestive system if not working to full capacity. If a cheese sandwich followed by a latte leaves you feeling bloated and windy this could be why.
The high fat and fibre content in nuts means that it takes a while for them to be properly digested. As they spend a lot of time working through the digestive system, the risk for gas and bloating is markedly increased. Nuts also contain tannins which can present problems like nausea for some.
Whilst not a food in itself, artificial sweeteners are a common addition to many food and drink items on the market today. The body can find artificial sweeteners difficult to digest, which increases the likelihood of gas, bloating, and bowel problems. Many products containing sweeteners even carry a warning that excessive consumption may lead to “laxative effects”. We’ve written a bit more about artificial sweeteners in this article here.
The tomato fruit is high in naturally occurring acids. Because of their high acidic content, for some, tomatoes can stimulate the production of stomach acids which can result in bloating and gas. Try doing as the Italians do – remove the skins after boiling the tomatoes in a pan of water. This will enable the body to digest the tomatoes more easily.
Like nuts, avocados are packed full of good fats and essential fibre and is a high polyol food, meaning the rate of digestion and risk of gas being produced is even higher. Often it’s a case of amount – eating ¼ – ½ an avocado is fine but a whole one may cause a problem.
It’s important to mention that, as always, everyone will have different reactions to the foods we’ve listed, and that all the items in our list are healthy and beneficial to a diet in moderation. Some of you out there might even be able to feast on a meal of blackberry, avocado and onion sandwiches, washed down with a milkshake, and feel absolutely fine.
However, if you’re not that lucky, and you think that a certain food could be triggering stomach discomfort and excessive gas, it could be worthwhile investigating further with our IBS Programme. Rather than simply guessing which foods present you with problems, you’ll receive a list of potential triggers, and even have access to advice that can help you to optimise your diet in a way that works best for you. This way, you can eat the healthy foods that make you happy, whilst trying to reduce any embarrassment or discomfort.
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