The Culprits: Fiber, Starch, and Sugars
When looking for foods that cause gas, carbohydrates are nearly always the culprit. Proteins and fats are not known to cause much gas, while common compounds present in carbohydrates have been proven to create gas when digested. Soluble fiber, starches like potatoes, and four different complex sugars (raffinose, fructose, lactose, and sorbitol) cause gas. Soluble fiber and starches create gas when they’re broken down in the intestines, while raffinose, lactose, and sorbitol cannot be broken down by many people.
Legumes are the best known causes of gas and bloating. Dry beans, green beans, and peas contain raffinose, one of the four sugars that cause gas. Beans contain quite a bit of raffinose, actually, as well as good amounts of soluble fiber, which is why they’re the stereotypical gas culprit. To reduce beans’ gas-causing ability, discard the water they were soaked in and cook in fresh water. Also consider trying Beano®, which breaks down the undigestible, complex sugar raffinose into highly digestible glucose and galactose.
To help prevent getting gas from vegetables, try Beano here as well. It will help to neutralize the gas-causing effects of raffinose-containing vegetables.
- Artichokes – Contain fructose, one of the four sugars known to cause gas.
- Asparagus – Contains raffinose.
- Broccoli – Contains raffinose. Also a high-fiber vegetable.
- Brussels sprouts – Contain raffinose. Also a high-fiber vegetable.
- Cabbage – Contains raffinose. High in fiber.
- Carrots – Contain raffinose. High in fiber.
- Cauliflower – Contains raffinose.
- Cucumbers – Contains raffinose.
- Green peppers – Contains raffinose. High in fiber.
- Onions – High in fructose.
- Radishes – Contains raffinose.
Fruits contain sorbitol, a gas-causing complex sugar. They also contain good amounts of soluble fiber, which causes gas when it’s broken down in the large intestine. The best way to reduce gas from eating fruit is to eat slowly to avoid swallowing air, and to build up a tolerance over time by beginning with smaller amounts of fruit and increasing it.
- Apples – Contains sorbitol. High in soluble fiber.
- Apricots – Contains sorbitol. High in soluble fiber.
- Bananas – Contains sorbitol.
- Peaches – Contains sorbitol. High in soluble fiber.
- Pears – Contains sorbitol. Also contain fructose. High in soluble fiber.
- Prune juice – Contains sorbitol. High in soluble fiber.
Whole Grains and Starches
Starchy foods like potatoes and corn cause gas when they are broken down in the gastrointestinal tract. Of all the starches, rice is the only one that won’t cause gas. Whole grains also include raffinose.
- Wheat – Contains fructose. Contains gas-causing starches.
- Corn – Contains gas-causing starches.
- Pasta – Contains gas-causing starches.
- Oats – Oat brain contains high amounts of insoluble fiber.
- Potatoes – Contains gas-causing starches.
Dairy products contain lactose. Much of the world’s population lacks the enzyme lactase in quantities sufficient to digest the lactose in dairy products, and as a result suffer gas after eating dairy. Additionally, as people grow older, the amount of lactase in their system falls, meaning as you age dairy products are more likely to give you gas. If you want to eat dairy anyway, try taking an over-the-counter lactase supplement to help you digest the lactose present, or look for reduced-lactose dairy products.
- Milk – Contains lactose.
- Cheese – Contains lactose.
- Ice cream – Contains lactose.
Other Gas-Causing Foods
- Processed foods – Includes packaged bread, salad dressing and cereal. Contains lactose.
- Carbonated beverages and beer – The bubbles are gas, and the air must go somewhere.
In order to cut down on gas, you can do one or more of several things: chew slowly and reduce the amount of air you swallow; take an enzyme preparation like Beano or lactase in anticipation of eating beans, gassy vegetables, or lactose; and reduce the amount of foods that cause gas that you eat. With planning and awareness, you can keep gas under control.
Gas in the Digestive Tract: https://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gas/
Controlling Intestinal Gas: https://www.aboutincontinence.org/site/about-incontinence/treatment/gas