Bloating is, above all, an uncomfortable experience. It can be harmless and transient, but it can also indicate a bigger problem within the body. In any case, you don’t want to deal with it because bloating is always accompanied by gas and unpleasant sensations. It is normal to have gas issues from time to time, but more and more people are suffering from bloating or other problems caused by the increased formation and accumulation of gases in the digestive system.
Many rely on medications, but this is only temporary relief as it does not solve the cause but the symptom and consequences. Namely, bloating is primarily caused by improper diet, lack of physical activity and stress, as well as by eating or talking too quickly whereby a person swallows more air than usual. In this case, you should learn how to breathe properly and chew your food thoroughly and slowly.
However, most bloating cases originate from certain foods. Therefore, if you eliminate or reduce the intake of certain foods that cause bloating, you will most likely solve this problem (1). Stay with us and read which foods cause this state so that you can reduce or eliminate them from your diet.
Contrary to the belief that only unhealthy foods cause bloating, healthy foods such as fibrous vegetables, including beans, can also cause this phenomenon in your stomach. Before we proceed, let’s learn how to recognize bloating and differentiate it from other digestive system problems.
How is bloating manifested?
Bloating is a feeling of heaviness and fullness of the stomach. The abdomen is hard to touch, and in more serious situations there is a pain in the abdomen, especially when we press the critical spot(s).
Bloating is generally a harmless condition that can be regulated by changing your unhealthy lifestyle and paying attention to the diet itself. However, if you are not being able to get rid of the gas from your digestive tract and feel abdominal pain, you should consult your doctor as there is a possibility that you may have a more serious problem than bloating (1). Also, if this problem persists even when you do not consume foods that cause bloating, you must ask for professional help.
Causes of bloating
Although there are many different causes of bloating, the most common culprits are different types of foods. Therefore, if you are often bothered by this unpleasant occurrence, check our list of the foods that might be present on your menu.
It is important to note that everybody is different so foods from this list should not be systematically eliminated from the diet. We recommend keeping a diary that will help you detect the exact foods that cause bloating in your case. It is a rather simple process. Take a notebook or start a new note on your smartphone. Write down everything you eat for at least a month (this is especially important for women, due to their menstrual period and hormonal changes that can cause bloating). Also, input the cases of bloating next to the corresponding dates. Then, you will be able to detect the food that is not suitable for your digestive system.
Foods that Cause Bloating
The foods listed below can potentially cause bloating, depending on how your body processes and digests food.
For some people, bloating may be triggered by just one food item, and others may not be bothered by any of the below.
1. Dairy Products
You don’t even have to be allergic to dairy products, a minimum increase in lactose sensitivity is enough to cause bloating from dairy products (2). Try to avoid milk, yogurt, cheese, and other similar foods for a couple of weeks and see how your body responds. However, don’t underestimate the benefits of dairy products. Talk to your doctor if you notice that milk is the culprit as you should find a substitution regarding vitamins and minerals found in these products.
As with dairy products, you don’t have to be allergic to gluten to experience bloating problems (2). However, if you are sensitive to it or have celiac disease, the inflammation caused by pasta, donuts or cereals can be a lot worse than the bloating itself. However, even bloating may be a good indication that something is wrong and that it is time to see your doctor.
Soy products can ferment in the human stomach and release gas that causes bloating. If you experience bloating often after consuming tofu, soy sauce or smoothies with soy milk, try temporarily removing them from your diet.
4. Too high fiber intake
Yes, we know you are surprised! Even fibers can be a double-edged sword. Although fiber can usually help alleviate bloating, exaggerating in consumption of these types of food can actually cause bloating (2). Pectin is a water-soluble fiber that is slowly digested, and fruits like apples and pears are rich in it. Although it leads to a feeling of long-term satiety due to slower digestion, it can also cause bloating. If you eat lots of fiber-rich foods, make sure you drink plenty of water to help your body break it down without unpleasant problems such as bloating.
You may have noticed that the beans cause bloating, but you may not have known what caused it. Beans are foods very rich in fiber. If you had missed our fiber consumption-related section, go back and read why it sometimes causes problems. Also, we must note that not only kidney beans are the culprit. Unfortunately, all foods from this very rich family can cause bloating. That includes all kinds of beans, peas, lentil, chickpeas, and soy (2).
6. Sugar-rich foods
Here’s another reason for reducing your sugar intake. You probably won’t like this information and suggestion, but sugar nourishes the bacteria in your intestines (2). Next, the bacteria release gases. This causes bloating. More sugar means more gas and more gas means more bloating. In the end, you might end up with every-day bloating experience and even some severe cases that require medical help. Are you still sure you don’t want to reduce your sugar intake?
7. Certain kinds of veggies
Even though vegetables are usually an excellent choice in your diet, certain veggies such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and sprouts, which are rich in complex trisaccharide (glucose, galactose, and fructose), can cause bloating (2). Their decomposition releases a lot of gas, which can cause problems with your stomach.
8. Greasy food
Cause No. 8 is very similar to the increased intake of fiber. Namely, fried or greasy foods are also guilty of slowing down the process of digestion and can cause bloating. The slower the digestion of some food, the more time it has to ferment in the digestive tract, thus creating more gas. Therefore, you should definitely avoid fried and greasy food!
9. Too much salt
Here’s an interesting thing about this type of food. Don’t get confused here. Salt itself will not cause bloating. Instead, it will help retain water in your body, which can create a feeling of bloating. That’s why doctors usually recommend decreasing the amount of salt you use on a daily basis. This is especially important for pregnant women.
10. Carbonated drinks
Together with mineral water, your favorite carbonated juice and even champagne, you also intake carbon dioxide into your body. As a result, it makes your stomach inflated and your digestive system full of gas. If you suffer from this problem, you should consider decreasing the number of carbonated drinks you consume.
Tips for solving the bloating problem
Now that we’ve learned which foods cause bloating, it’s time to share some tips on how to avoid it. Make sure to follow these rules and you should quickly feel an improvement in this segment of your digestive health.
Avoid sitting and eating before going to bed
Some foods can cause an increased gas production – for example, beans, peas, cabbage, raw onions – but the biggest “culprits” are flatbread and pasta made from white flour, industrially processed foods full of sugar, fat, and salt, fried and spicy foods. carbonated and alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, etc. Also, digestion is often disturbed due to the consumption of excessive, irregular and (or) too late meals. That is, if you eat before bedtime, you are very likely to be bloated that night or the following morning.
Also, a sedentary lifestyle literally causes a digestion problem, so keep moving for at least an hour every day – moderate and persistent activities such as walking, cycling, yoga, Pilates are the most desirable.
Consume natural food
Eat as many natural, whole foods as you can and drink clean water and unsweetened herbal teas. Be very moderate with coffee (2).
Drink fermented products
It is advisable to consume fermented dairy products (e.g. kefir and acidophilus) as they contain probiotics, that is, good bacteria that balance your digestion (3).
Drink enough water
Consume water 20 to 25 minutes before a meal or one hour after a meal. Don’t consume water with meals (2).
Be careful when combining foods
The problem with bloating can be easily solved by conveniently combining foods. Specifically, food is classified into several groups, depending on what ingredients it contains and how it is digested.
The first group is protein – meat, milk and dairy products, fish, eggs, nuts.
The second group consists of carbohydrates, i.e. cereals and cereal products (bread, pasta, flakes, flour, etc.) and starchy vegetables (potatoes, yams, sweet corn).
The third group includes salads, non-starchy vegetables, root vegetables, seeds, spices, and herbs, as well as nuts.
The fourth group – fruits – is a separate category because it is digested the fastest of all foods.
You should not combine the first and second food groups because it interferes with digestion causing bloating and other problems. The third group can be combined with the first or the second group. The fourth group (fruit) should always be eaten separately, at least 30 minutes before or after the other groups. Legumes contain significant amounts of starch and protein, so they are apparently difficult to classify, but starch is the dominant component of most legumes (except soy and white beans). This means that you can generally combine legumes with cereals and salads or vegetables. Combinations of cereals with vegetables, pasta with vegetables, and meat or fish with vegetables are preferred.
Foods you SHOULD eat to avoid bloating
We bring a list of foods that will help you solve your bloating problem. Write them down or take a screenshot and start implementing these tips in your daily routine.
Not only are they full of Vitamin E and protein, but they also contain lots of fiber, making them an ideal snack. Although they are high in calories, they do not cause bloating.
Cut the cucumbers into cubes and enjoy delicious and healthy snacks. They contain quercetin, an antioxidant that soothes your stomach and helps get rid of bloating.
Whenever your body gets bloated, drink more water. Although this advice seems contradictory, it will remove the excess fluid from your body. If you do not drink enough water, the body retains it to keep it hydrated for as long as possible, causing bloating.
Cinnamon & Ginger
Spices like cinnamon and ginger purify the body, so you can drink tea with these spices before going to bed. This recipe is good for relieving morning sickness and diarrhea, as well as bloating.
Parsley is also extremely healthy for the entire digestive system, including bloating and gas prevention. You can use it either fresh or dried as a spice.
Pineapple and papaya contain enzymes that help with bloating by breaking down the proteins and facilitating digestion. Prepare papaya, pineapple and coconut water smoothies as a meal. Papaya contains a natural digestive enzyme that helps break down foods and improve your digestion.
Apple cider vinegar
Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink before eating your meal. This will help digestion while preventing bloating. If you have stomach acid, you will already be relieved with the first sip. However, don’t practice this for more than 10 days in a row.
Green tea is a natural antioxidant that is great for the health of the whole organism and for achieving a flat stomach. It affects the level of blood sugar and is a mild diuretic. It will help you get rid of bloating.
You have probably noticed that eliminating the above-listed 10 types of foods that cause bloating will not leave you much to eat. There’s no need for such strict measures. Instead, you should think about the foods you eat, about the proper ways of combining them, and simply record what you eat in order to detect the culprit. This list will help you discover the cause or causes of your bloating problem. Then, eliminate only that ingredient of type of food. Also, don’t forget to consult your doctor in order to get a supplement or a recommendation on another type of food that will provide specific vitamins and minerals.
- Foley A, Burgell R, Barrett JS, Gibson PR. Management Strategies for Abdominal Bloating and Distension. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2014 Sep;10(9):561-71. PMID: 27551250; PMCID: PMC4991532. Found online on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991532/
- Hasler WL. Gas and Bloating. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2006 Sep;2(9):654-662. PMID: 28316536; PMCID: PMC5350578. Found online on: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5350578/
- Seo AY, Kim N, Oh DH. Abdominal bloating: pathophysiology and treatment. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013 Oct;19(4):433-53. doi: 10.5056/jnm.2013.19.4.433. Epub 2013 Oct 7. PMID: 24199004; PMCID: PMC3816178. Found online on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3816178/