You know the feeling of waking up after fasting from the night before where your stomach feels fresh. You feel light as a feather as you cook your morning breakfast. But then sometimes after your first bite, it’s like a balloon just inflated in your stomach, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and bloated.
No one is immune from gas, unfortunately. But when your bloating leaves you in pain because of abdominal distention it could be a problem.
What’s Adding to Your Gas Issues?
Bloating refers to the excess gas in your stomach waiting to be released. The gas could be released by burping, belching, and flatulence. All of these can make you uncomfortable with abdominal pain and even a distended abdomen.
Did you know: About half of gas in the digestive system is swallowed air? Eating food more slowly can help reduce this excess gas.
Fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols – or to keep it simple FODMAPs – are chains of carbohydrates found in certain foods that many people can’t digest. FODMAPs escape digestion and are fermented by gut bacteria in the colon, and the byproduct is gas.
If you aren’t struggling with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, you probably are also suffering from excessive bloating and gas. In addition to FODMAP sensitivity, gluten and lactose intolerance can also cause stomach bloating symptoms.
Carbonated beverages can also contribute to gas and bloating, so try to limit intake of these drinks.
TIP: Exercise has yet another health benefit; it’s great for your digestion – by enhancing gas clearance and helping to reduce symptoms of bloating.
When to See a Gastroenterologist for Bloating
- When your symptoms persist more than a few weeks despite dietary and lifestyle changes
- If your symptoms worsen over time
- If your symptoms cause significant discomfort or pain
- If your symptoms interfere with your daily life activities
Then an evaluation by a gastroenterologist in Plano, TX is recommended to make sure that the symptoms are not caused by a more serious medical condition.
However, further testing can be necessary in some instances to determine the underlying cause. These tests may include:
Tip: Keeping a food diary can help both you and your doctor evaluate your condition.
Top 10 Foods to Avoid that Cause Gas and Bloating
You get to be your own investigator in finding out what foods cause bloating and gas in your body. Since most digestive issues are usually related to the foods you eat, I’ve provided the top foods that cause stomach bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort in most people. While this list is not inclusive of all foods potentially causing stomach bloating, my hope is that they give you a good basic understanding of how certain foods can affect our health.
- Raw cruciferous vegetable – One of the worst foods that cause bloating and gas are raw cruciferous vegetables.
But before you “X” cruciferous vegetables of your list, like kale, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage off your diet – please, DON’T. It’s important to eat your vegetables, as they are densely packed with good nutrients and essential vitamins for your body.
The little word before cruciferous vegetables – “raw” is crucial. For many people, all they need to do is cook their veggies to break down these plant’s cell walls to help your stomach digest them easier.
Cooking these vegetables also helps to break down the fiber and a sugar molecule called raffinose, which bacteria in the large intestine feed on and can release gas that causes your bloating feeling.
2. Onions – Onions by far are the best flavor enhancer vegetables to a meal. There isn’t one time I leave the grocery store without a bag full of them.
But, onions are a high FODMAP food containing fructan which is soluble fibers that can cause your bloating.
These yummy underground bulb vegetables have so many benefits to fight heart disease with their hypocholesterolemic, hypolipidemic, anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetic, antithrombotic and anti-hyperhomocysteinemia effects that it’s hard to give them up for good.
Fortunately, to limit bloating and gas caused by onions just eat smaller portions and make sure to not eat them raw.
3. Garlic – Similar to onions, garlic adds wonderful flavor to meals and also has great health benefits for your body.
But, garlic contains fructan like onions making them another high FODMAP food. Cooking these kinds of food is always beneficial to help the digestion.
4. Apples – Remember, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, not so much when it comes to bloating since apples are higher in fructose and fiber than most fruits.
Fructose is a monosaccharide, so apples are considered a high FODMAP food as well, making it hard to break down in the digestive tract.
Although apples are a great source of fiber, Vitamin C, and antioxidants, which have a wide range of benefits, they can cause stomach bloating in some people. If you have stomach sensitives to apples try to eat smaller portions of the apple throughout the day.
5. Legumes and beans – By earning the name the “musical fruit” it’s not a surprise why beans and legumes such as chickpeas, soybeans, and lentils are a cause of your gas and bloating.
They are considered a high fiber food and are part of the high FODMAP food group since they contain the oligosaccharide sugar molecule raffinose and galactan. Remember raffinose is not fully digested in the small intestine so it ferments in the large intestine which produces gas.
Soaking your beans before cooking them can decrease bloating and help with digestion.
6. Mushrooms – Like the “musical fruit,” mushrooms contain the oligosaccharide sugar raffinose which can contribute to digestive issues.
Like most things, portion control is the main goal. So try small amounts of cooked mushrooms and see if your stomach is less sensitive.
7. Dairy – Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter are great sources of protein and calcium.
But surprisingly, 65% of Americans are lactose intolerant and dairy products cause bloating, gas, and abdominal cramps. We need the digestive enzyme lactase to break down lactose in our body. This production of lactase normally decreases after our breastfeeding days.
Our stores now have an abundance of lactose-free options like almond milk, soy milk, and cashew milk so there are options if you experience issues with diary.
8. Sweeteners – You know the labels “sugar-free.” They aren’t TECHNICALLY sugar-free. Companies are able to put sugar alcohols like xylitol, mannitol, and sorbitol in them to make them a low-calorie option.
These substitute sweeteners contain polyols which is a FODMAPs and again add to your abdominal discomfort
9. Carbonated drinks and beer – I hate to say it, but some of your favorite drinks could be causing your bloating and abdominal discomfort.
Drinks such as beer, sodas, seltzer waters and kombucha can all attribute to bloating and gas since they contain a high amount of gas called carbon dioxide.
10. Wheat – As gluten sensitivity is becoming more widely known, people are understanding the effects of wheat on the stomach.
Wheat is found in so many of our foods like bread, pasta, pizza, and cake. It contains a protein called gluten, and this is what gives people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity so many of their digestive issues like gas, bloating, and stomach cramps.
Your Bloat Free Diet
A low-FODMAP diet is often recommended for patients whose digestive issues are debilitating. It’s a very strict diet, and some people don’t view it has a long-term option. I suggest trying this diet for some of my patients to get their symptoms under control and then slowly start introducing foods back into your diet to see if they are the cause of your symptoms.
Here is a list of anti-bloating foods that you can eat when bloated and gassy:
- Lemon water
- Fennel seeds
- Leafy greens
- Peppermint, green and chamomile tea
- Dark chocolates
Basically, certain foods for certain people can cause excess gas to be trapped in the gut and cause pain. For those experiencing these bloating symptoms, foods to specifically try avoiding are those that contain FODMAP carbohydrates.
Gastroenterologist in Plano, TX
Contact your doctor if you think you may have a food sensitivity issue or need help in diagnosing the cause of your bloated belly.
If you are in the Plano, Frisco, Allen or Dallas TX areas call Dr. Brian Cooley, a board-certified gastroenterologist with 30+ years of experience diagnosing bloating symptoms to schedule a consult, at (972) 758-5484 or click to request an appointment today.