The 9 Foods Making You Bloated (According To Functional Medicine Doctors)
1. FODMAP foods:
This strange-sounding acronym stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, a long-winded way of saying: fermentable sugars. These specific types of sugars are not fully digested and can be excessively fermented by the bacteria of your GI tract. . The fermentation process releases hydrogen gas that distends (aka bloats) the intestines. If you are eating a well-balanced diet, but still experience uncomfortable bloating, look out for high FODMAP foods like onions, garlic, apples, asparagus and beans. FODMAP intolerance is typically caused by an underlying gut problem called SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (apparently we love acronyms in health). SIBO is a microbiome problem that we test for at my functional medicine center to see whether it is contributing to gut problems like bloat. For a full list of FODMAP foods, check out my article on the subject.
The number one thing that causes people to bloat is artificial sugars. Chew a couple of pieces of artificially flavored and sweetened gum and—bam! You'll be bloated. This is a major reason why to opt for foods with naturally-occurring ingredients!
One under-the-radar bloat-food is the food stabilizer carrageenan, which can be found in foods like ice cream, soft-serve, frozen yogurt, and yogurt. Carrageenan is used to create that thick dairy texture, but it can cause gut inflammation, intestinal permeability, and bloating. If you know you react to it, seek out fresh, natural versions of yogurt and ice cream that haven't been chemically stabilized.
Mushrooms contain an indigestible sugar called raffinose that can become fermented in the large intestine, which contributes to gas and bloating.
5. Cruciferous vegetables:
Touted for their important, sulfur-containing compound called sulforaphane, cruciferous vegetables play an important role in phase II detoxification in the liver. They even widely studied for their protective effect against cancer. But, despite their nutrient-density, cruciferous vegetables can be challenging to digest (especially in the raw form). Crucifers (like mushrooms) contain a starch called raffinose that can lead to methane gas production due to fermentation in your colon. Try incorporating a small dose and gradually build up your intake as tolerance allows. Pro tip: add lemon juice to stimulate digestive enzymes.
Living in San Francisco, I see more brands of kombucha than water when I walk into a grocery store! Kombucha is a fermented tea that contains probiotics and sometimes high levels of sugar depending on the brand. Fermented foods are essential to a healthy gut microbiome, but moderation is key. Though kombucha is usually a great dose of probiotics for your diet, it is possible to drink too much. I have worked with patients who have already removed common foods that can cause bloating like gluten, dairy, and processed foods and still can't button their pants. When I eliminate or limit their kombucha intake to one bottle a day split up into two servings (which is usually the serving size on the label) their bloating disappears!
Approximately 65 percent of adults are lactose intolerant. That means they lack enough of the intestinal lactase to break down the lactose sugar in pasteurized milk. This leads to gas, bloating, generalized abdominal pain, and often diarrhea or loose stools. The most affected are Asians and Native Americans.
Dairy products are the No. 1 cause of bloating in my practice. This can be coupled with gas, cramps, and diarrhea. Approximately 70 percent of African Americans, 90 percent of Asian Americans, 50 percent of Mexican Americans, and 75 percent of Native Americans are lactose intolerant. Overall, about 75 percent of the world's population, including 25 percent of those in the United States, lose their lactase enzymes after weaning.
There is no reason for people to push themselves to drink milk, as all of the containing nutrients can be found in alternate food sources. Despite its major selling point, milk is not associated with prevention of osteoporosis.
8. Whole grains:
While we know that many foods cause belly bloat, one of the biggest culprits is whole grains. The fiber can be tough to digest if there are not enough enzymes and hydrochloric acid to break this down effectively. With bacterial overgrowth, there can be a good deal of bloating with whole grains.
Refined sugar feeds harmful bacteria in the gut, which can crowd out the beneficial bacteria creating an imbalance in your system. Ideally, beneficial bacteria colonize the vast majority (around 85%) of the lower intestine. When this ratio starts to flip, symptoms like bloating and gas arise. Many of our patients find that they are able to eliminate bloating when they limit refined sugar. Over time, sugar can continue to negatively reduce beneficial gut flora and cause more severe digestive issues. If not addressed properly, bacteria imbalances can lead to other forms of gut dysbiosis like candida, SIBO, and intestinal permeability.
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