Have you noticed that sometimes you tend to feel more bloated? Feeling bloated can certainly be quite uncomfortable, especially if it is accompanied with flatulence or gas, pain, cramps, and even diarrhea. It is understandable why you would want to free yourself from these feelings.
But the truth is – the reason for your bloating might as well be the food that you are eating. Yes, unfortunately, there is a long list of foods that cause these uncomfortable digestive issues. In the following article, we will discuss the 13 most common foods that have been linked as the cause for bloating. Not to worry – we are also sharing great alternatives and ways in which you could avoid these digestive issues altogether.
13 Foods that cause bloating and discomfort and what to eat instead
1. Cruciferous Vegetables
In the family of cruciferous vegetables, you will find our beloved broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, garden cress, and many, many others. These are all highly nutritious foods rich in several different vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber, potassium, iron, etc.
But one thing that you should know about cruciferous vegetables is that they also contain FODMAPs – short for fermentable sugars. Fermentable sugars are a specific type of sugars that our gut is, unfortunately, unable to fully digest, leaving them to be excessively fermented by our gut microbiome (1).
The process of fermentation releases hydrogen gas which leads to the forever uncomfortable symptoms of bloating, gas, and other digestive issues as well (2). Cooking your cruciferous vegetables rather than eating them raw may help reduce the bloating. And if you want to replace them, then do rely on alternatives such as zucchini, spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, and sweet potatoes.
2. Dairy Products
Dairy products are an excellent source of animal-based protein and calcium, among other healthy nutrients that we need in our daily diet. Unfortunately, many people are faced with a health issue called lactose-intolerance (3).
Lactose intolerance means that your gut is unable to break down a specific sugar called lactose found in dairy products and milk. If you too are lactose-intolerant, then upon consummation of any dairy product whatsoever, you will experience abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas, cramps, and even diarrhea.
While some people can bear eating small quantities of some dairy products, they cannot eat others without struggling with the previously mentioned issues. Luckily, today we have a large variety of lactose-free dairy products including alternatives for milk, cheese, yogurt, and even ice cream.
Kombucha is a special fermented tea that is enriched with much-needed probiotics. Usually, kombucha is a great addition to our diet and a friend to our digestive health (4).
However, since kombucha is also a carbonated drink, delivering carbon dioxide (CO2) into the digestive system when consumed in large quantities can lead to some digestive issues, including bloating (5). Also, some kombucha brands contain a higher level of the previously mentioned FODMAPs, which we explained that can lead to digestive distress in many people, especially in those struggling with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Because of its beneficial effects, we do not recommend replacing your daily kombucha with another drink, except when a doctor has instructed you otherwise. But we do recommend respecting the daily recommended serving dose printed on the label. For most brands, the daily recommended serving dose is no more than one kombucha bottle a day, usually split into two servings to avoid bloating and other digestive issues.
Beans belong to the family of legumes. A naturally rich source of protein, fiber, healthy carbs, vitamins, and minerals it seems as if beans have it all within them (6). And yet, beans too can easily cause digestive issues, including bloating.
The reason for that, you ask? Once again, we have the famous FODMAPs to point our finger at. FODMAPs are found in the healthy and nutritious beans as well, thus easily causing bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, pain, and flatulence.
But before you write off beans from your diet, know that there is a way to take advantage of all of their nutrients without having to deal with bloating and other digestive discomforts. To do that, do soak and sprout the beans and change the soaking water a few times before cooking. Also, some bean types are easier to digest than others including pinto and black beans. You can replace beans by using quinoa, meat, and grains as high-protein and high-fiber sources in your diet.
5. Garlic and Onion
We can hardly imagine a salad or dish without garlic and/or onion. Apart from having many health benefits, the most common reason as to why we use so much garlic and onion is because of their incredible flavor.
But, they too, can easily cause bloating. For example, onion carries a special type of soluble fiber within it called fructan. And so, if you are fructan-intolerant, then you are very likely going to experience bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps upon consuming large quantities of onions (7).
Fructan is also present in garlic, so the same rule applies here as well. Besides, fructan is a type of FODMAPs, so even if you do not have fructan-intolerance, you are likely going to experience abdominal discomfort and bloating (8).
Cooking both garlic and onion can reduce these unwanted effects. And if you are fructan-intolerant, then you might want to think about replacing garlic and onion in your usual dishes by adding other herbs and spices instead.
Rye is a cereal grain, related to wheat. It is rich in several different vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But rye is also rich in gluten which in addition to its high fiber content may lead to bloating and other digestive issues.
Rye causes digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and flatulence in individuals struggling with gluten-intolerance (9). Gluten-intolerance is described as a high sensitivity to a specific protein called gluten, which is found in many foods, including rye.
If rye is the cause of your bloating, then you might want to try avoiding it and replacing it with other high-fiber alternatives instead. We would recommend trying quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, and oats as an addition to your meals.
Anyone who is a long-time drinker of beer is faced with an issue called beer belly later in life. But do you know what a beer belly represents? A beer belly is created by the increased belly fat due to the continuous consummation of beer, but also, it occurs as a result of the effect of bloating.
Beer is a carbonated drink. This is the first clue as to why beer leads to bloating. But that is not all – beer is also filled with FODMAPs, which only adds to the effect of bloating. Besides, beer often contains gluten as well, which will lead to digestive issues within those who are struggling with gluten-intolerance (10).
Having a beer or two a week might not do you much harm. But if you want to eliminate beer from your diet, then we highly recommend drinking more water throughout the day. And On occasions when you do need to consume an alcoholic beverage, we recommend drinking a glass of red or white wine which is less likely to cause any bloating.
8. Sugar alcohols
Have you ever experienced bloating after chewing a piece of gum or eating a supposedly sugar-free food of any kind? If the answer to that question is yes, do not be surprised. The reason for that is that although there is no sugar found in these foods, there is something called sugar alcohol that is used to replace them.
Xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol are examples of sugar alcohols that you need to watch out for. Sugar alcohol belongs to the group of FODMAPs. Understandably, from what we know so far, that is the reason why they are leading to bloating and abdominal discomfort, especially in those of you with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (11).
We would recommend choosing natural sweeteners such as honey and stevia as the perfect replacement for sugar alcohols. If that is not an option in your case, you might want to look for erythritol, which is also a sugar alcohol, but one that does not do so much harm to your digestive system.
There is hardly a dish in which mushrooms would not be a great addition to it. That is, however, bad news to those who tend to bloat easily. Yes, mushrooms too can cause you to bloat, unfortunately.
Mushrooms contain polyols, which are a type of sugar alcohol that we mentioned being linked as a cause for bloating. But mushrooms also contain an indigestible sugar called raffinose that can be fermented in the large intestine, thus resulting in the release of hydrogen gas which then leads to bloating and even diarrhea.
If you find mushrooms to be the cause of your bloating, we recommend limiting your mushroom consummation to eating only a small amount. You can replace mushrooms by adding zucchini, tofu, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. to your dishes (12).
Over the last couple of years, wheat has been the subject of much controversy. The main reason – the high levels of gluten that it contains, which is not good news for anyone struggling with gluten-intolerance. Despite that, many people continue to use wheat in their daily diet.
For anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, wheat is linked as the cause of bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, pain, flatulence, and many other uncomfortable digestive issues (13). And as if that is not enough, wheat is also filled with FODMAPs, only adding to it causing digestive issues, even in those who are not sensitive to gluten (14).
Luckily, there are many alternatives for wheat that we can use in our diet. From pure oats, quinoa, and buckwheat, to almond and coconut flour. Do explore the many alternatives to wheat bread as well.
Yet another commonly consumed cereal grain, apart from ray, is barley. Barley, too, is very nutritious since, like ray, it also contains high levels of fiber, selenium, manganese, and other needed nutrients.
But it is because of its high fiber levels that barley is listed as the cause for bloating in many people. Barley is also a source of gluten, which is the reason why it is causing bloating in those with gluten sensitivity (15).
You may find it easier to tolerate refined barley better. Quinoa, oats, buckwheat, and brown rice can also serve as great alternatives to barley as well.
12. Carbonated Beverages
Many of us are true fans of carbonated beverages such as beer, sodas, and energy drinks, among others. But because of their high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), it should not come as a surprise why you are feeling so bloated after drinking a glass of any carbonated beverage of your choosing (16).
Bloating should not be the only reason to consider replacing carbonated beverages with other alternatives, thinking of how many artificial sweeteners and added sugars they contain – ingredients that can do you a lot of harm. Instead, rely on plain water to keep you hydrated throughout the day. Drink fruit-infused water, unsweetened tea and coffee to soothe your thirst as well.
Apples – perhaps the most popular snack in the world and one of the most nutritious also. Being a great source of multiple vitamins including Vitamin C, several antioxidants, and fiber, eating an apple a day has been linked to multiple health benefits. Besides, apples have a great satiety index, with it being 200, which means that an apple can keep you full for a long time without introducing too many calories in your system (17).
Unfortunately, because apples contain fructose, which is a type of FODMAPs, and their high fiber levels, they are known to cause bloating and flatulence in some people. If that is the case, you may want to try eating cooked apples for a change.
Replacing your daily apple with banana, clementine, blueberries, strawberries, or orange might be a good idea as well.
Feeling bloated and uncomfortable is not something new. Many people deal with these kinds of feelings daily without being aware that most of these very same digestive issues have been caused by the food that they have been eating. We hope that today’s article will change that for you and help you identify which food or drink has been causing you to feel bloated all day long.