It’s safe to say that most people grew up hearing this song on the playground: “Beans, beans: They’re good for your heart! The more you eat, the more you,” well, you know the rest! And be honest—you’ve always thought twice before digging into a bean-heavy meal because of that song, no? Well, here’s the thing: if you still can’t control your tooting but aren’t sure of the culprit, beans are just one of many foods that cause gas most likely in your diet.
Read on to find out which items to avoid, as well as how to alleviate this rather annoying symptom so that you can continue to enjoy those foods you just can’t quit. Plus, don’t miss Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age, Say Dietitians.
Sugar alcohols, like sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt, and xylitol are found in some sugar-free candies and gums and cause gas. “Check the label on sugar-free foods,” says Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD. “Instead, go with stevia, maple syrup, or raw sugar as sweeteners.”
About 25% of the US population and 75% of the world population eventually lose some or all of their ability to break down lactose, a sugar found in dairy products.
“Lactose intolerance is when the body is unable to breakdown lactose, and the side effects include diarrhea, congestion, gas and bloating,” says Sarah Greenfield, registered dietitian, and expert in digestive health and sports nutrition. “If you’re worried about calcium, fear not; foods like barley, butternut squash, chickpeas, and collard greens are all high in it. And some people can also tolerate dairy foods with lower levels of lactose like yogurts, ricotta, cottage cheese, Parmesan, Swiss, and cheddar cheese.”
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale are all delicious (and easy to prepare!), so they make great sides or bases in recipes. And with their high fiber and high nutrient content, they’re a great source of nutrition. But since they are high in fiber, this can naturally lead to gas and bloat, if you have a hearty amount of the food.
“Cruciferous vegetables take a longer amount of time to move through the digestive tract, giving them longer exposure to our gut bacteria,” says Greenfield. “The bacteria begin to ferment the fiber and produces gas. A great way to decrease the effects of this is to drink a lot of water and to take a digestive enzyme prior to eating.”
Highly processed foods with large amounts of sugar can increase the production of flatulence. “Sugar feeds the bacteria in our intestines, which causes fermentation, a process where sugar is turned into gas,” explains Greenfield. “Decreasing the amount of processed sugar can help decrease gas and bloating.”
Sometimes, that discomfort that feels like gas is actually the feeling of being too “full.” And high-fat foods tend to take longer to digest, resulting in a decrease in the stomach’s ability to empty.
“Just like a balloon full of water, this distension sends a message to the brain that translates into ‘fullness,'” says Dr. Rupa Sharma, gastroenterologist with a special focus on nutrition. “Just like every part of the body, the GI tract has nerves and these send messages to the brain and are involved with many symptoms including hunger, pain, and—of course—gas.”
If an ice-cold beer is your way of relaxing after a long day, you might want to find a new vice. Beer releases carbon dioxide gas and that builds up in your gut—and is then released in the form of some foul-smelling flatulence. And it’s not just beer; other alcohols and fermented and pickled foods can cause bloating, cramps, and excess gas because of yeast overgrowth. Simply put: Too much yeast in our intestines equals too much gas.
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Protein sits in your stomach for a longer period of time, which causes sugars and bacteria to build up. This leads to bloating and gas, but you don’t have to give up your BBQ fix just yet. Some ways to lessen the farting effect is to chew your food very well and consume red meat in smaller portions.
For some, the carbonation in drinks like soda goes right to their intestines, blowing ’em up like a balloon. The acid and fructose found in these drinks are the culprit—so if you have this problem, switch to natural, non-fizzy drinks like plain iced tea.
“Many people have gluten sensitivities that they’re unaware of because so many foods have wheat as filler,” explains Dr. Natasha Sandy, celebrity dermatologist, and wellness expert. If you find that you’re gassy and bloated after eating foods made with wheat, you may want to try cutting down on how much gluten you consume.