No one likes feeling bloated… the root cause is that something isn’t digesting fully, which causes gas. Here are 5 foods that cause bloating for lots of people. Try cutting them out for a few weeks to see if it helps.
- Dairy is one of the most common allergens, and many people are lactose intolerant even if they don’t realize it. When someone is intolerant, they don’t have the enzymes to properly break down the sugars in milk – which can cause bloating or gas as a mild reaction, or more violent reactions. A large proportion of people in the world stop producing the enzymes to process lactose after they stop breastfeeding. One of the many reasons it makes much more sense for humans to drink non-dairy milks!
- Artificial sweeteners – diet sodas, gum, etc
- Carrageenan is a thickener often used in non-dairy milks, and it’s fairly natural (derived from seaweed) – but for some people it’s been shown to cause bloating and intestinal issues. If you can’t narrow it down to anything else, try making your own homemade non-dairy milk for a few weeks and see if it helps.
- Soy Protein Isolate: This is found as protein powder, or in protein bars, and is better than whey (which is dairy) but is difficult to digest with a tendency to create gas. There are lots of plant-based protein powder mixes that are made with other forms of protein (rice, pea, quinoa, etc) – and some even include digestive enzymes in the powder to make them easier to utilize.
- Raw cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage): They’re fantastically healthy, and fine in normal serving amounts. But too much can be dangeous, and if your gut flora is out of balance you may get more than usual gas and bloating from them. The sulphur compounds in them can create a lot of gas, and it doesn’t smell very good at all. There’s also a starch called raffinose that can be tough to digest, and ferment in the large intestine, giving you gas and bloating.
The key strategy, for any food, is to cook it properly and chew it properly. Those are the first steps in proper digestion.
Then, if your gut needs a bit of assistance to get back in balance and functioning properly, you can try a digestive enzyme or probiotic temporarily.
If the bloating is severe, you want to eliminate any suspect foods from your diet for at least 4 weeks. It should hopefully subside, and then you can add foods back one at a time, with a couple of days between, to see what the culprit is for you. Keeping a food journal to track what you eat and how your digestion is should start to show you some patterns.
If you want some help getting started, try my May daily vegan cooking calendar – the third week is all very cleansing meals which should be great for minimizing bloating and digestion issues.