We all know the jingle about beans, but there are plenty of other gassy foods -- foods that have the potential for contributing to intestinal discomfort, bloating and flatulence. If gas has become a problem for you, knowing about these gassy foods can help you make better food choices.
In general, gassy foods are those that contain certain sugars (fructose, lactose, raffinose and sorbitol) and/or soluble fiber. These substances are not digested at the level of the stomach and thus make their way down to your intestines where bacteria break them down. The end result of this breakdown is the release of gas.
As you look at the following list, you will see that many of the foods on the list are those that are quite good for you -- that is, they offer significant nutritional benefit. Thus, it is important to accurately pinpoint which foods are specifically a problem for your body, rather than to unnecessarily put yourself on a restricted diet. The use of a food diary will help you to accomplish this. Once you have identified a problem food, try to see if your body can tolerate smaller amounts of that food, so that you can still benefit from its nutritional components.
It is also important to keep in mind that food is not the only cause of intestinal gas. Certain behaviors, such as smoking and chewing gum, can cause air to be swallowed, which then contributes to belching and bloating. Avoiding food is also not the only way to reduce intestinal gas. There are many effective over-the-counter treatment options that help your body to digest the offending sugars so that you can eat these gassy foods without having a gas problem.
1. Certain Vegetables and Legumes
The following vegetables have made their way onto this list due to the fact that they contain raffinose and/or fructose:
- Brussel sprouts
- green peppers
2. Certain Fruits
These fruits may be a problem for you as they contain fructose, sorbitol and/or soluble fiber:
3. Dairy Products
Even if you have not been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, you may find that eating dairy products results in unwanted gas. As our bodies age, we tend to produce less of the enzyme lactase that is necessary for digesting lactose (the sugar found in milk and other dairy products), and thus gassiness resulting from dairy foods may become a problem.
- Ice cream
- Processed foods containing milk products.
4. Certain Whole Grains
Although whole grains are quite healthy for you, some of them contain soluble fiber and/or raffinose which can contribute to unwanted gassiness:
- Flax seed
- Oat bran
5. Certain Snack Foods
Watch what you reach for when you get the munchies. Read the labels of sugar-free candies and gums to ensure that they don’t contain sorbitol. Nuts and seeds are often a good source of soluble fiber and thus may be problematic in terms of gas.
6. Certain Drinks
As with snack food, watch what you drink. The following beverages may contain fructose, sorbitol or carbonation, all of which can contribute to intestinal gas:
- Diet sodas
- Fruit juices
Essential Reading from Dr. Bolen, Your IBS Guide:
Researchers have identified certain foods as containing substances known as FODMAPs that contribute to excessive gassiness. People who have chronic problems with gas and bloating may find relief from following a low FODMAPs diet:
- What's Behind the FODMAPs Diet Theory
- Effectiveness of a Low FODMAPs Diet for IBS
- Foods on the FODMAPs Diet
- Reader Experiences with the Low FODMAPs Diet
- Low FODMAPs Diet Recipes
- FODMAPs Book Review: IBS-Free at Last
Friedman, G. “Diet and the irritable bowel syndrome.” Gastroenterology Clinics of North America 1991 20:313-324.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) Gas in the Digestive Tract.
Norton, W. Controlling Intestinal Gas International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.