According to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, most of us pass gas anywhere from 12-25 times a day. Recent surveys suggest that abdominal bloating affects up to 30 percent of Americans. It’s not something we like to talk about. But gas and bloating are somewhat inevitable – when you eat (and drink), the space inside your stomach is filled and that causes some expansion. There are, however, foods that make things worse. Here are five you should avoid:
- Cruciferous Vegetables – kale, broccoli, and cabbage are in this category. They contain raffinose — a sugar that remains undigested until bacteria in your gut ferment it, which produces gas and, in turn, makes you bloat. You don’t need to skip the greens entirely, but keep portions minimal. You can also steam these veggies since cooking them will soften the fiber.
- Legumes – you probably know the old saying – “Beans, beans, the wonderful fruit…” – Beans, lentils, soybeans and peas are definitely going to cause gas. While they’re full of protein, they also contain sugars and fibers that our bodies can’t absorb. By the time they reach the large intestine, your body revolts leading to gas and bloating. The kicker is legumes are good for you. So, combine them with easily digestible whole grains such as rice or quinoa.
- Dairy – if you’re one who feels gassy after a glass of milk or a couple slices of cheese, you might be lactose intolerant. Your body lacks the necessary enzymes to break down lactose (the sugar found in dairy products). That can lead to uncomfortable stomach pains, gas and bloating. Try to avoid dairy as much as possible. The American Gastroenterological Association suggests that lactase tablets might also be helpful in the digestion of foods that contain lactose.
- Salty Foods – foods that are high in sodium can cause water retention, which leads to bloating. It’s a lot harder than you think to avoid excess sodium. It lurks in almost everything. In fact, the CDC reports that about 90 percent of Americans consume more sodium than recommended (2300 mg per day unless you’re 50 or older, have diabetes or high blood pressure and then it drops down to 1500 mg per day.) You have to read labels – most processed foods have extremely high sodium levels. If you do eat a particularly salty meal, be sure to accompany it with lots of water!
- Sorbitol – sorbitol is a sugar that, in excess, can cause gas. It occurs naturally in fruits like peaches, apples, prunes and pears. But it can also be found in anything that uses sorbitol as a sweetener – sugar free gum and candy are the two biggest offenders. If you ever wondered why you were gassy after gum chewing, now you know.