8 Foods That Can Give You Gas

If you're looking to avoid gas, keep these foods off your plate

Some people are surprised to learn that everybody has gas. The creation of intestinal gas is part of the normal digestive process. The amount may vary from person to person, but no one is immune!

Many people feel that gas is embarrassing and is something to hide. What's more, it can be uncomfortable. For people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gas and bloating during flare-ups are a common problem. While there's no way to get rid of intestinal gas completely, avoiding or cutting back on foods that cause gas may help relieve some discomfort. As always, be sure to check with a physician before cutting a food group out of your diet entirely.

1
Beans

Barbecue baked beans
Beans are a wonderful addition to your diet, but they could cause gas. Jacob Snavely/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Most people know that beans tend to cause more gas than other foods. This is because beans contain oligosaccharides, including raffinose. These are large sugar molecules that cannot be broken down or digested in the small intestine. The sugar then passes undigested into the colon, where it is fermented by your "good" bacteria, and gas is produced as a byproduct. You can avoid gas from beans by taking an enzyme supplement such as Beano that breaks down the oligosaccharides in beans.

2
Mushrooms

Fresh Mushrooms
Mix of Mushrooms. James Tse/Getty Images

Mushrooms, like beans, contain the oligosaccharide sugar raffinose. Eating mushrooms can cause gas because raffinose is not fully digested in the small intestine, but instead undergoes fermentation in the large intestine. The gas produced by fermentation will then exit as intestinal gas.

3
Milk and Milk Products

Milk
Try milk for getting things clean. Sasta Fotu/EyeEm/Getty Images

If you're one of the many adults who are lactose intolerant, dairy products can cause a significant amount of gas and bloating. People who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme lactase, which is necessary to break down lactose (milk sugar). This results in gas and bloating, among other symptoms. Besides milk itself, dairy products such as ice cream, cheese, and yogurt contain lactose and there may be dairy ingredients in other products.

If you avoid dairy completely, you will want to find other food sources for your daily calcium intake. Note that lactose intolerance is different than a true milk allergy. People with a milk allergy should avoid milk in any form, at all times.

4
Wheat

Whole Wheat Version of Harvest Bread
Whole Wheat Version of Harvest Bread. J.McGavin

Wheat is not often thought of as a food that causes gas. However, the starch in wheat creates gas when it is broken down in the large intestine by your good bacteria. Whole wheat and bran, in particular, may be the culprits. Wheat also contains fructose, a natural sugar that is can be found in fruit. Any undigested fructose from wheat may ferment in the large intestine and lead to gas.

5
Fruit and Fruit Juice

Fruit bowl
Fruit bowl. Photo © Serif

Apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, plums, and prunes are especially well-known for causing excess gas. Apple juice, pear juice, and fruit drinks are also culprits. The reason is that fruit (like wheat) contains fructose. If you ingest more than your body can digest, the remaining fructose is broken down by fermentation. A byproduct of fermentation in the large intestine is gas.

6
Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli Heart
Broccoli Heart. Getty

These healthy vegetables are also notorious for causing gas. The fiber in them is not completely digested in the small intestine. When the good bacteria in the large intestine go to work digesting it, gas is created as a result.

Eating large amounts of these vegetables will cause more gas. Some people find that eating small amounts and increasing the amount slowly over time may help reduce the amount of gas.

Other vegetables that often cause gas include asparagus, artichokes, and onions.

7
Sugar-Free Sweeteners (Xylitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Erythritol)

Sweetener
Some sweeteners can really cause gastric upset. Photo © Sanja Gjenero

Many foods labeled as "sugar-free" or "diet" often contain sweeteners such as xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol, or erythritol. These are naturally-occurring sugars that are added to foods and drinks to make them sweeter. When these sugars are broken down by bacteria in the large intestine, gas results. If you're trying to avoid these sugars, it's important to read food labels closely.

8
Drinks with High-Fructose Corn Syrup (Especially If Carbonated)

soda cans
courtesy Pixabay

High-fructose corn syrup can produce gas as the fructose is acted on in the gut. Many sweetened drinks and sodas are made with high-fructose corn syrup instead of sugar. The effects can be even worse if it's in a carbonated drink, as that causes you to introduce additional gas into your intestinal tract. If you don't burp it out, it will come out the other end.

Sources:

Gas and Bloating. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. http://aboutibs.org/ibs-diet/foods-that-cause-gas-and-bloating.html.

Gibson P, Shepherd S. Evidence-based dietary management of functional gastrointestinal symptoms: The FODMAP approach Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2010 25:252-258.

Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract/symptoms-causes.

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