As a Dietitian, I teach my clients which foods are more likely to make them gassy so they can feel less bloated and more comfortable throughout the day.
Common gas-producing foods are legumes, garlic, wheat, and certain vegetables, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and onions.
Calorie-free sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol can also be problematic since those ingredients are making their way into more drinks and snacks these days as a “sugar replacement”.
Foods containing dairy can also make you gassy if you’re lactose intolerant.
- Gas can be caused by swallowing too much air while eating or drinking, poor gut health, food choices, and lifestyle factors.
- If symptoms impact your day-to-day life, it is important to address this by reducing or avoiding certain foods or drinks. If you think you have an underlying health issue, speak to a clinician.
- Some diet and lifestyle changes that might alleviate symptoms are exercise, probiotic-rich foods, soaking or boiling legumes in water, herbal tea, peppermint capsules, oats, and linseeds.
What Causes Gas?
Gas is a bi-product produced by the digestive system (the colon) after breaking food down into small molecules as it passes through the gut.
This process (production of gas) is influenced by many things, such as swallowing air, one’s lifestyle, the foods one eats, one’s overall health, and the speed at which the gut processes food (motility).
If you unintentionally swallow air when you eat or drink, it can accumulate in the digestive system.
This can happen if you’re eating quickly and barely chewing your food. It’s also more common in those who chew with their mouth open rather than closed.
Gas is linked with gut health since an excess of it can be related to an underlying health issue, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance, chronic constipation, and coeliac disease (inability to digest gluten) to name a few.
Excess gas can also be caused by some medicines (i.e. laxatives).
Certain types of food are harder to digest and are known to produce more gas during digestion.
These include foods containing a high volume of non-digestible (unable to absorb) carbs and fiber (more on this later).
Stress, anxiety, and low physical activity levels are all factors that can impact digestion by affecting how quickly food passes through the gut.
These lifestyle factors can compress the gas that is produced from unabsorbed nutrients in the gut, causing you to bloat.
Symptoms of Gas
Not everyone will experience the same symptoms of gas in the digestive system because of individual nuances in biology, genetics, bacteria diversity in the gut, lifestyle, and dietary habits.
However, some common symptoms are:
- Passing gas/flatulence through the rectum.
- Abdominal distension (bloating) due to the accumulation of gas.
- Tummy/cramp-like pain associated with passing gas.
- Belching/burping, related to air coming up through the mouth.
While these symptoms aren’t uncommon, if you’re experiencing them on a daily basis, then you may need to make some dietary changes to help reduce the production of gas.
11 Foods That Can Cause Gas
Foods that are more likely to cause gas are those containing complex carbs (i.e. starch), fiber, and simple carbs (i.e. fructose, lactose).
These foods include high FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) foods that those with IBS should eliminate or limit (one at a time) to narrow down gas-producing foods.
These foods include:
1. Dairy Products
Lactose can trigger gas-related symptoms in some people, which is likely due to lactose intolerance (very common) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Milk, cheese, and yogurt are the most common examples of lactose-containing foods.
If you have a food sensitivity to egg whites and/or egg yolk, then eggs might cause gas-related symptoms.
However, eggs do not contain FODMAPs, making them easier to digest for the majority of people. Even those with IBS can consume them without having digestive issues.
3. Cereals and Breads
Wholegrain cereals (i.e. all bran) and bread (i.e. rye or white regular bread) made from wheat bran contain complex carbs that are harder to digest.
If you have celiac disease or IBS, wheat-based foods might exacerbate gut symptoms (both conditions have overlapping gut symptoms).
Cereals and bread can also make you gassy if you’re consuming a higher amount of fiber throughout the day, so it may not be these carbs in particular that you’re sensitive to; it could just be the overconsumption of fiber in general.
Cashew and pistachio nuts in particular may be hard to digest for people with IBS since they contain galactooligosaccharides (a type of prebiotic).
Legumes also contain galactooligosaccharides, which are a form of prebiotic carbs that remain undigested and can create gas.
Some individuals may experience gas-induced symptoms whenever they eat legumes, while others may only have gas with larger portion sizes of legumes.
Examples of these foods are beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
For this reason, a salad meal is more likely to leave you gassy because vegetables are often added as toppings in larger quantities.
Popcorn is high in insoluble fiber (hemicellulose and cellulose mostly), which might cause gas and bloating in some people.
It is also a type of food that is often prepared by using excessive amounts of fat or utilizing toppings, which might induce symptoms.
8. Sugar-Free Items
Some sugar-free products like sweets, mints, gum, and drinks contain artificial sweeteners (sorbitol and mannitol) that can cause gas.
Artificial sweeteners have been found to alter your gut bacteria, so frequent consumption of artificial ingredients could cause gas-induced symptoms to become more severe over time.
9. Fatty/Fried Meals
Dietary fat slows down the digestion of all meals, including gas-producing foods, which in turn might make you feel uncomfortable for longer.
Foods that are high in saturated fat or trans fats are more likely to induce gas-related symptoms because these types of fat are inflammatory.
10. Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated drinks create extra gas because the air bubbles in them can pass through your gut or come back up through the mouth as air.
Examples are soda, sparkling water, beer, and fizzy wine.
Caffeine in coffee and energy drinks might also affect the gut by stimulating bowel motility, increasing the urgency to go.
Those with a low caffeine tolerance are more likely to experience gas-related symptoms than those who have a higher caffeine tolerance.
How Quickly After Eating Will You Experience Gas?
You won’t experience gas instantly after eating because it takes a while for the food to digest and move through the gut.
Also, the time it takes for gas to form will depend on your digestive system and how quickly it processes food, your gut health, and the type and quantity of food consumed.
Think of it this way: it takes around 4 hours for food to reach the small intestine, so gas-related symptoms will take longer than 4 hours to present themselves.
Food has to go through the mouth, the stomach, the small intestine (which is around 6 meters long), the large intestine, and then the rectum. This process is referred to as bowel transit (or substance transit) and has been well-researched.
Evidence in healthy subjects suggests that it can take somewhere between 12-48 hours for complete transit to occur, so if you’re experiencing gas directly after eating a meal, it’s more likely that the gas is caused by foods you ate earlier rather than the meal you’ve just consumed.
4 Foods That Can Reduce Gas
Although there are foods that are more likely to cause gas, there are also foods that you can eat to reduce gas production.
Cooked oats are high in beta-glucan which is a soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has been related to low gas production.
That said, some people can experience gas when consuming oatmeal if they have a sensitivity to avenin (a protein found in oatmeal).
If you struggle with excess gas, try swapping your regular cereal for a bowl of oatmeal to see if your symptoms improve.
Flaxseeds/linseeds (up to 1 tablespoon per day) might ease discomfort caused by gas by allowing stools to pass more easily and thus alleviate gut discomfort.
However, larger serving sizes could trigger gas symptoms, especially if you are someone who has IBS.
Try adding 1 teaspoon of flaxseeds to a smoothie, oatmeal, or some protein balls.
3. Herbal Teas
Herbal teas such as peppermint, ginger, chamomile, or fennel tea might improve digestion and consequently lead to making you less gassy.
Try having tea after your meals to see if it helps reduce your symptoms.
4. Probiotic-Rich Foods
Research shows that probiotics (as a dietary supplement or food) can improve the balance of bacteria in the gut in people who suffer from gut issues.
“Probiotics may improve whole gut transit time, stool frequency, and stool consistency”– Eirini Dimidi – American Journal of clinical nutrition
My favorite probiotic-rich foods are yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha.
My advice when choosing between brands of probiotic-rich foods is to verify that the product says “contains live or active cultures”.
Other Tips for Reducing Gas
Tip #1: Boil/Soak Legumes
Boiling or soaking legumes, like red lentils, peas, and chickpeas, may make them easier to digest.
The complex carbs in beans and legumes are water-soluble (they dissolve in water) so by boiling or soaking them, the complex carbs (oligosaccharides) leach out into the water and make legumes easier to digest.
This suggests that straining legumes after cooking could potentially lower their FODMAP content.
Tip #2: Food & Symptom diary
Keeping a food and symptom diary can help you identify patterns and pinpoint which foods are contributing to increased gas production.
It may be necessary to eliminate or reduce the intake of specific foods (like those listed above) to alleviate your symptoms.
This is referred to as an elimination diet and should be done with the help of a dietitian to ensure that you’re testing and adding foods back in properly.
Tip #3: Get Moving
Engaging in regular exercise can lower the likelihood of gut-related symptoms (i.e. constipation) because it promotes muscle contractions that aid in the expulsion of gas.
Try going for a 20-minute walk after your meals to encourage better digestion and to help manage blood sugar levels.
Tip #4: Eat Slowly & Chew Thoroughly
Eating slowly and chewing food properly makes food digest more easily because it’s easier for the body to break down when it’s been chewed to applesauce consistency.
Taking it slow and chewing thoroughly will also reduce the amount of air that you’re swallowing while eating and therefore reduce the likelihood of gas buildup in your digestive system.
Tip #5: Reduce Caffeine
Moderating your caffeine intake might help with gas-related symptoms if your gas is related to caffeine sensitivity. Try reducing your caffeine intake or eliminating caffeine altogether to see if your symptoms improve.
If you’re looking for an alternative to your regular coffee, try switching to decaf coffee or try herbal tea.
If your symptoms don’t improve after reducing or eliminating caffeine, then caffeine likely wasn’t the cause of your gas and you should keep investigating the root cause.
Tip #6: Supplement
Taking peppermint oil capsules may help relax the muscles of the digestive tract, potentially aiding in reducing gas as well as other pain and cramp-like symptoms associated with gas formation.
My advice would be to consult a health professional before beginning enzyme supplementation to discuss whether these products are right for you.
Tip #7: Switch To Non-Dairy Alternatives
Switching to non-dairy alternatives like almond milk, oat milk, or soy-based products can help to reduce gas if you’re sensitive or intolerant to lactose or dairy in general.
That said, some people are sensitive to carrageenan which is a thickening agent used in some dairy-free alternatives, which could also cause gas. To avoid this, look for non-dairy alternatives without carrageenan, or try making your own nut or oat milk at home.
Try switching to dairy-free or lactose-free alternatives to see if your symptoms improve.
Tip #8: Reduce Fat Intake
If you’re overconsuming high-fat foods, then it could be contributing to your gas because fat slows down the digestion of meals and consequently the transit of foods in the gut.
If you’re noticing that your meals are high in fat and you’re consistently gassy, then try cutting back on your fat intake.
Should You Worry If You Get Gassy When Eating Certain Foods?
You don’t need to worry about getting gassy after eating certain foods because it’s quite common and generally not a cause for significant concern. However, if you consistently experience excessive gas and this affects your daily life, it may be worth investigating further.
If you notice that specific foods cause excessive gas or other gut-related symptoms, it could indicate an intolerance or sensitivity to those foods (or some of the particular ingredients in those foods) or an underlying health problem.
If you suspect you have a food intolerance and/or your digestive issues are affecting your quality of life, then I highly recommend speaking with a dietitian.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Foods Help Relieve Gas?
Certain foods are known to help relieve gas and ease digestive discomfort, such as warm/cooked oats, herbal teas like peppermint or fennel tea, flaxseeds or linseeds (up to 1 spoon per day), and probiotic-rich foods like yogurts containing live or active cultures.
How Do I Get Rid of Excess Gas?
There are many strategies that you can try to alleviate excess gas, including keeping a food and symptom diary to pinpoint and reduce gas-producing foods, exercising regularly, reducing fat and caffeine intake, and boiling and soaking legumes to release the complex carbs.
What Foods Should You Avoid If You Have Gas?
If you’re experiencing gas, avoid or limit foods containing high amounts of complex carbs, fiber, and simple sugars. Some of these items include dairy products, some crustacean vegetables, legumes, fizzy and caffeinated drinks, wheat bran cereals/breads, sugar-free sweets, and fatty foods.
About The Author
Giulia Rossetto is a qualified Dietitian and Nutritionist. She holds a Masters in Human Nutrition (University of Sheffield, UK) and more recently graduated as a Dietitian (University of Malta). Giulia aims to translate evidence-based science to the public through teaching and writing content. She has worked 4+ years in clinical settings and has also published articles in academic journals. She is into running, swimming and weight lifting, and enjoys spending time in the mountains (she has a soft spot for hiking and skiing in the Italian Dolomites).
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