Are you experiencing bloating? That swollen, tight feeling in your stomach? If you are, we know how you feel, because we have been there. It is not a nice feeling, especially when it stays with you for days. It is uncomfortable, and can even be painful. Worse, it really gets in the way of you enjoying food and life!
Yeah, not very nice at all.
What causes bloating? There can be different reasons for different people, but the usual culprit is food. That is why in today’s guide we have dug deep and researched the most common reasons, resulting in this list of the 15 foods that cause bloating. These 15 foods are the usual suspects when it comes to bloating, the food items that are the most common causes of bloating. Learning about these can help you find the one (or more) food that is causing your bloating, which in turn can help you to hopefully get rid of the bloating!
So let’s get started on the 15 foods that cause bloating, to help you track down the ones that might be causing your bloating.
Foods that cause bloating
Here’s the list of the 15 foods that cause bloating:
- Milk (and other dairy products high in lactose) – Did you know that about 75% of the population cannot digest milk properly, because they can’t break down lactose? That is the majority of the population. This challenge with processing lactose (usually known as lactose intolerance) is more obvious for some than others, but even for those who are not overtly lactose intolerant dairy can cause digestive problems, including bloating.
- Beans – Beans are well-known as a great source of healthy carbohydrates and protein, especially among people who don’t eat meat. But beans are also well-known for another attribute, their gas-inducing properties! This is mainly the result of their high sugar content which our bodies struggle to digest (some more than others). Beans do not affect everyone in the same way, but in some people, they can cause digestive issues, including bloating. Soaking and sprouting beans help reduce the gas-inducing impact of beans.
- Lentils – Third on the list are lentils, which (like beans) are also legumes. And like beans, the way our body digests their sugar content can cause excess gas, and bloating. That said, they are generally pretty good for your health (good source of protein, fiber, minerals, etc), and does not cause bloating for everyone.
- Wheat – Wheat can be a source of bloating for some people, especially people sensitive to the gluten it contains. Wheat also contains sugars that can cause digestive issues in some people, so cutting out the regular bread you get from the supermarket can be a good way to see if it affects you badly or not.
- Rye – Rye is mainly used as a (healthier) alternative to wheat, and is known for being a great source of fiber, and minerals. However, rye also has gluten, and as such can cause digestive issues for anyone who is sensitive to gluten.
- Cruciferous Vegetables – The cruciferous vegetable group of vegetables includes several vegetables which are high in nutrients, but also contain sugars that some find challenging to digest (which can result in bloating). Cooking them can make them easier on the digestive system, as can fermenting them. Also, not all cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli) might affect you in the same way, so it can be a good idea to trial taking out one a time to see if that helps your bloating. They are some of the healthiest and most nutritious vegetables around, so completely cutting them out, especially if they do more good than harm, won’t be a good idea.
- Onions – Onions can cause you bloating? Turns for some people, it does. But that’s key to understand – it causes bloating in some people, not everyone. Millions of people around the world eat onions every day without any issues. But for some, it can cause digestive problems, like bloating, caused mainly because of the fructans it contains. Cooking it does reduce the impact, but do check if you are not sensitive to them.
- Barley – Barley is a cereal grain, which has become popular thanks to its high nutrient and dietary fiber content. The high fiber content though can disagree with some people, especially if their digestive systems are not used to a lot of fiber, and this can lead to bloating. Also, barley contains gluten, so those sensitive to gluten can find it hard to digest barley.
- Apples – An apple a day keeps the doctor away… You have heard of that, right? Well, that is largely true thanks to the vitamins and minerals apples contain. But the fructose in them has been know to cause bloating in some people. If you are someone who is sensitive to apples, cooking them can help. However, if it doesn’t, then it can be a good idea to opt for other fruits, like bananas, which are also really good for you.
- Garlic – Garlic has been used for hundreds of years as a form of medicine/home remedy, thanks to its immune-boosting and other health properties. But some people are sensitive to garlic, and for them eating garlic can lead to bloating. However, it is not very common, and cooking garlic usually reduces such digestive issues. Lactofermenting garlic can also help, as the nutrients become more bioavailable, easily digestible, and you will benefit from not the usual health benefits of garlic but also get the bonus health benefits of probiotics! Research has found probiotics to have a positive impact on bloating.
- Carbonated Drinks – So far the foods discussed have been ones that do not affect everyone badly, and more often than not does more good for you than bad (like beans, garlic, or the cruciferous vegetables). As such, it is a good idea to really check if they cause bloating for you before you completely stop eating them. However, the same does not apply to the remaining five on this list of foods that cause bloating. These you can take completely out of your regular diet because they do harm than good overall. Let’s start with carbonated drinks. The high sugar content and the carbon dioxide in them are often the cause of bloating in many. So drinking them in moderation (or avoiding them completely) can help with your bloating.
- Alcohol – Some people’s digestive systems are sensitive to the fermentable carbohydrates in alcohol, which can cause excess gas, and bloating. The high sugar content can also trigger bloating in some, as can the inflammatory properties of alcohol. There are other reasons why alcohol is not very good for you, learn about them here – 20 reasons not to drink alcohol. If you need some ideas for alternatives, check out these 10 non-alcoholic drink ideas.
- Beer – The same rule for alcohol applies to beer (it is a type of alcohol after all). On top of that, the carbonation in beer contributes even more to gas buildup in the stomach, which then can lead to bloating.
- Fatty food – This one does not need much explaining, because everyone knows that fatty food is bad for you. Now when it comes to bloating, greasy and fatty food makes your digestive system work harder trying to process the excess fat, which can cause issues like stomach aches, and heartburn and bloating.
- Artificial sweeteners – Earlier we mentioned how carbonated drinks can be a cause of bloating, largely because of their high sugar content. So you might be wondering if the “zero” or diet versions are ok. After all, they don’t have much, if any sugar. Unfortunately, they are not. They are still not good for you, despite the fact that they don’t contain sugar, and this is because the sugar gets replaced by artificial sweeteners which have been found to contribute to digestive issues, including bloating.
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Should you see a doctor?
Thankfully, bloating rarely is a sign of anything serious. Usually, it will go away on its own over time. But it can be an issue if it persists, and that is when you might need to consider seeing a doctor.
According to the National Health Service, you should consult your GP if your bloating persists. Basically, if you stopped eating the food items in the list above and experienced no difference, and your bloating continues to be uncomfortable for several days, it is time to make that call.
Bloating is a very common problem that a lot of us experience. In fact, generally, it affects more than 1 in 10 people! So very likely, of every 10 people you know, at least 1 might experience bloating to some degree. Thankfully, for most, it is not a common occurrence. But for many, it is pretty regular. If you are someone who is experiencing bloating right now, trying to stop eating the food on this list can really help.
However, if you happen to be someone who experiences bloating regularly, then identifying and eliminating any of the culprits that cause your bloating can have a big impact on the quality of your life. So try this out – eliminate these foods and see how that affects your bloating.
That said, it is not necessary to completely give up all of these food items, especially when it comes to ones that bring a lot of health benefits (like garlic, or the cruciferous vegetables) – you can try them out. Go without them for a week to see if that makes a difference. If you don’t see any difference, then clearly they are not to blame, and as such, stopping eating them won’t really help you. There is no point in cutting out something that can actually help you, after all.
If you tried cutting out the 15 foods that cause bloating and experienced no difference, then it can be a good idea to consult with your doctor. Especially if the bloating persists.
The food we eat has a huge impact on our health and life. And when it comes to something like bloating, it is better to figure out your trigger food(s) sooner rather than later. That way, you can reduce (if not completely avoid) any future issues with bloating.
By the way, if you are interested in learning more about the researches we went through for this guide, there is a full list in the reference section at the end of this guide.
What food items did you try cutting, and what helped? On that note, if you have not started yet, which of the 15 foods that cause bloating will you find the most difficult to stop eating, and why?
Share your thoughts and ideas, including any tips on bloating you might have, in the comments section below.
And if you are bloated right now, we hope you feel better soon. It is uncomfortable, but it will get better. Identifying and eliminating the food item that might be triggering your bloating can help, so start on this list.
All the best!
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