11 Foods That Cause Gas & Bloating

Clinical review: Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
March 2022

Foods that cause gas, like beans and broccoli for example are rich in fiber and carbohydrates, which are fermented by intestinal flora during digestion. Foods that are rich in fats and proteins, such as meats and nuts, will ferment for less time in the intestines and produce less gas overall. The fermentation process causes flatulence and bloating, which can vary from person to person. 

For this reason, you should be assessed by a registered dietitian to identify which foods tend to produce more gas in you, so that a customized nutritional plan can be created that suits your needs. Intestinal intolerance to these foods depends on the person, so not all people will develop flatulence if they eat the same meal.

Avoiding a specific food altogether is not always necessary, as simply reducing quantities and frequencies can be enough to achieve tolerance and reduce gas formation. 

List of foods that can cause flatulence

The main foods that can cause gas include:

1. Beans

Beans and other legumes in general are known to cause intestinal gas. They are rich in fiber and starch like rafinose, that are harder to digest, leading to longer fermentation time in the colon and increased gas production. 

There are many ways you can reduce gas produced by beans, like allowing them to soak for 12 hours before cooking and ensuring they are thoroughly cooked before serving.

2. Vegetables

Some vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, garlic and asparagus can cause excessive gas. Like beans, these foods are rich in fiber and contain rafinose, which is harder to digest and ferments for longer in the intestines. 

3. Fruits

Fruits and some fruit juices contain a type of sugar called fructose. This sugar varies in concentration depending on the fruit. It is not totally absorbed in the intestine, which can lead to increased gas production. 

Fruits that are higher in fructose and are associated with flatulence and bloating include apples, peaches, pears and plums. They also contain soluble fiber, which contributes to gas. 

4. Milk and dairy products 

Lactose is a sugar that is present in milk and dairy products. When a person is intolerant to lactose, it means that the body does not contain enough lactase to digest it. Lactase is an enzyme that is naturally produced by the body to digest this lactose in the intestines. When lactose remains intact, it is consumed by intestinal bacteria, which release hydrogen and short-chain fatty acids, contributing to gas. 

People with a lactose intolerance or who notice increased gas can substitute dairy with lactose-free milk or vegetable-based milks. You should also review nutritional labels to verify whether lactose is present in food products. 

5. Gum

Chewing gum can lead to increased swallowed air, also known as aerophagia, which can lead to increased gas and intestinal discomfort. Some gum also contains sorbitol, manitol or xylitol, which are sugars that can also cause more flatulence and bloating.

6. Sodas

It is important to avoid soda, mineral water, beer or other gassy drinks, as they lead to increased air in the intestines. Drinking with a straw can also lead to more gas.

7. Oatmeal

Oatmeal or oatmeal flour are rich in fiber, rafinose and starch, which contribute to gas production in the intestines. 

8. Peas

Peas contain fructose, fiber that ferments in the intestines and lectins, which are associated with bloating and increased gas. 

9. Hard candy 

Hard candy typically involves prolonged sucking in the mouth, which can lead to swallowed air. Similar to chewing gum, this swallowed air can lead to increased gas in the intestines, causing discomfort and cramping. 

10. Starchy food 

Foods that are high in starch, like potatoes, pasta and rice, remain in the intestine for longer as they are harder to digest. Due to prolonged time in the gut, this food is fermented by intestinal bacteria, which produces more gas.

11. Onions

Like peas and other fruits, onions also contain high amounts of fructose. This sugar is not easily digested in the gut, leading to longer digestion times and greater fermentation. 

When you eat these foods, you may experience symptoms such as a swollen belly, abdominal pain and flatulence. Babies and children can also develop flatulence due to the consumption of the foods mentioned above. Infants who exclusively breastfeed can still be affected and experience gas and colic. if the mother’s diet is rich in these foods. Therefore the mother is advised reduce intake of gas-promoting food when breastfeeding. 

Worst food combinations that cause gas

Some of the worst combinations that can stimulate the formation of gases further are:

  1. Beans + cabbage;
  2. Brown rice + egg + broccoli salad;
  3. Milk + fruit + sweetener like sorbitol or xylitol;
  4. Eggs + meat + sweet potatoes.

These combinations slow down the process of digestion, leaving food to ferment and produce more gas for longer periods in the intestine, which will generate more gas. In addition, people who already suffer from constipation should also avoid these combinations because, in general, the slower the intestinal transit, the greater the production of flatulence.

How to treat gas naturally

There are many ways you can get rid of gas. Some easy tips that can be used to help fight gas naturally are to avoid drinking liquids during meals - have your drinks after you are done eating. You can also try to speed up digestion by eating 1 natural yogurt a day to improve intestinal flora and eating pineapple or papaya as dessert because these fruits promote digestion.

In addition, teas like fennel, gentian and cardamom also help to reduce the production of gases, relieving the sensation of intestinal swelling. Check out other home remedies to reduce gas.

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Atualizado por Tua Saude editing team, em March de 2022. Clinical review por Tatiana Zanin - Registered Dietitian, em March de 2022.

References

  • JELLEMA Petra; SCHELLEVIS F et al. Lactose malabsorption and intolerance: A systematic review on the diagnostic value of gastrointestinal symptoms and self-reported milk intolerance. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine. 103. 8; 555-572, 2010
  • HASLER William. Gas and Bloating. Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2. 9; 654–662, 2006
Show more references
  • WINHAN Donna; HUTCHINS Andrea. Perceptions of flatulence from bean consumption among adults in 3 feeding studies. Nutrition Journal. 10. 1-9, 2011
Clinical review:
Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal