Gas and bloating indicate that the body does not digest correctly. Very often gas leads to bloat. The other common causes include:
- diet, including consumption of certain foods and overeating. Certain foods produce more gas due to the action of intestinal bacteria. The body may not digest and absorb such foods, and if gas is not passed out, cause bloating.
- inadequate intake of water, reducing the ability of the body to digest food
- accumulation of liquids. Abdominal bloating caused by excessive accumulation of liquid inside the cavity is called ascites.
- specific medical conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, bowel obstruction, and constipation, among many other conditions
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Vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, lentils, turnips, carrots, radish, and cauliflower rank among healthy food choices, but also find a place in foods that cause bloating. Such vegetables contain cellulose and or raffinose, a complex sugar that the body does not digest and instead cause fermentation and gas. Other vegetables such as artichokes and onions contain fructose, another complex sugar. Fruits such as apples, apricots, bananas, pears, peaches, and prunes are rich in cellulose and sorbitol, another type of sugar contributing to gas.
Many vegetables and fruits also contain starch and fibre, the digestion of which creates a by-product of bacteria in the colon, which contributes to gas. One solution is the addition of food enzymes such as Beano, to help break down the sugars in vegetables.
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes contain complex sugars such as raffinose that can cause gas to build up in small and large intestines, and contribute to bloat.
Soaking beans before cooking them and discarding the water reduces the bloating and gas caused by beans, as does cooking them thoroughly. These methods reduce the amount of natural sugars in the beans.
People with celiac disease or intolerance to wheat cannot digest it completely. This leads to fermentation and gas build-up upon consumption of wheat products such as bread and cereal, causing bloating. Wheat also contains starch and fiber that contribute to gas and bloating.
The solution is abstinence from wheat products.
Most diary products rank high on the list of foods that cause bloating.
Diary products that cause gas and bloating often indicate lactose intolerance, a condition where the body cannot break down the lactose, the natural sugar found in milk and other diary products owing to lack of the enzyme lactase in the intestines that normally breaks down this sugar.
The options to eliminate the condition include consuming lactase enzyme supplements, such as Dairy Ease and LactAid, to help break down lactose in the food along with the diary products, or avoiding dairy products entirely.
Processed Foods and Carbonated Beverages
Excessive consumption of processed foods, fast foods, frozen foods, cream filled cookies, margarine, potato chips, carbonated drinks, cookies, and candies, rich in fat and carbohydrates cause formation of fat cells that slows down the body’s ability to empty the stomach, contributing to bloat.
Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, maltitol, sorbitol, or erythritol, found in such foods and beverages are not digestible. The gut bacteria instead break them down, leading to flatulence and bloating.
Many carbonated drinks and processed foods contain sorbitol, a type of sugar that impedes digestion of the food by the body and contributes to gas. Moreover, the carbon dioxide bubbles in such drinks promote gas formation. Sipping such drinks with a straw cause more air to enter the digestive tract, again contributing to bloat. Many soft drinks contain fructose, which has the same effect.
General Tips to Reduce Bloating
Most cases of bloating are due to improper dieting. Reducing the intake of all foods that cause gas and bloating might not always be possible. Follow some general dietary interventions to preempt bloating to include:
- eating slowly, chewing the food, and avoiding gulping down foods and beverages. This aids digestion and prevents air inside the stomach.
- eating small meals rather than overeat with heavy meals.
- consumption of peppermint or other herbs after heavy meals soothe the digestive tract, and may permit belching, decreasing bloating after large meals.
- cooking with ginger and garlic may reduce gas.
The tips given in the article are indicative and do not constitute medical advice. Bloating and gas may sometimes be a symptom of some [serious medical condition.](/tools/Bloating as a Symptom of Ovarian Cancer) Consult your doctor or a dietitian about ways to maintain a balanced diet to counter bloating.
- Medicine Plus. Abdominal Bloating. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003123.htm
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Digestive Disorders. https://www.umm.edu/digest/gas1.htm
- University of Michigan Health System. Gas, Bloating, and Hiccups. https://health.med.umich.edu/healthcontent.cfm?xyzpdqabc=0&id=6&action=detail&AEProductID=hw_knowledgebase&AEArticleID=gas
- Causes of Bloating and Gas. https://www.healthhype.com/causes-of-bloating-and-gas-flatulence.html
- Bartlett, Jo. East Carolina Family Practice Center. Do You Suffer From Excess Gas and Bloating?. https://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/fammed/customcf/resources/nutrition/gas_bloating.pdf
- Leong, Kristie, MD. Five Foods tthat cause Gas and Bloating. https://healthmad.com/nutrition/five-foods-that-cause-gas-and-bloating/
- University Of Pennsylvania. Office of Health Education. The Top 10 Foods to Beware. https://www.vpul.upenn.edu/ohe/library/fitness/10foods.htm