Excessive abdominal or intestinal gas manifests as either excessive belching, excessive flatulence, or both.
Just to be sure we are clear about what the term “bloating” means: Bloating is an uncomfortable feeling of fullness and tightness of the abdomen. In a person with bloating of the abdomen, the abdomen doesn’t need to be observably distended.
Our patients may have excessive abdominal gas or bloating due to many reasons and providing them simple dietary advice in just a few minutes can be very helpful.
I recommend giving patients a handout titled Helpful hints for controlling gas (flatus) provided by the University of Michigan Health System. Among other tips, this handout lists the foods that are most important to avoid (see below)
Avoid these major culprits
The list of foods and beverages that can cause excessive abdominal gas or bloating is VERY long! But, some of them are major gas producers, and avoiding those items may be enough to produce relief. The list below is modified from the handout from the University of Michigan Health System (2007).
1. Most cruciferous vegetables (alphabetically): brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes
2. Green salads
3. Other vegetables: onions, leeks (see image below), celery, cucumber, carrots, parsnips (a root vegetable related to carrots), peas
Tip: To reduce abdominal gas that results from consuming beans, the beans should be presoaked, the soaking water discarded, and the beans then cooked with fresh water (source).
Raisins, bananas, apricots, prunes, dried fruit
Brown rice, bagels, wheat germ, pretzels
Bran cereal or foods high in bran
Bran is the edible outer layer of grains of various cereals. When the cereal grain is milled, the bran is separated from the flour.
In the photo below, the 3 scoops show wheat grains, wheat bran, and wheat flour.
Full-list of foods and beverages that can cause excessive abdominal gas or bloating
These foods and beverages may include (in no particular order):
All milk-containing products, including ice cream and cheese
Many people, especially those of African, Asian, or Native American origin, have lower levels of lactase and, so, may have more difficulty tolerating lactose-containing products (source).
Also, with age, people’s levels of lactase decrease, and they may have more abdominal gas after consuming lactose-containing foods (source).
Taking lactase supplements may help people tolerate lactose-containing foods.
Both fructose and sorbitol, found in many fruits, can be problematic in terms of increasing abdominal gas production.
Alphabetically, the problematic fruits may include apricots, apples, bananas, cherries, mangoes, melons, pears, peaches, prunes, raisins.
– Lima beans
– Cruciferous vegetables like (alphabetically) broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, rutabaga.
– Other vegetables like (alphabetically) artichokes, asparagus, celery, cucumbers, green peppers, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes (raw), radishes, turnips.
– Whole grain cereals like wheat, wheat bran, oats. pretzels,
– Bagels, pretzels
– Wheat germ
– Carbonated beverages. Tip: If a person really wants to have one of these drinks, leaving the drink out for a while—so that the bubbles are reduced—may allow the person to enjoy the beverage with less trouble with gas and bloating.
– Beer, especially dark beer.
– Red wine
– Fruit drinks
– Other sources of fructose like high-fructose corn syrup, honey
– Fatty and fried foods in general
– Sugar and sugar substitutes (artificial sweeteners) including sorbitol
– Chewing gum
International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Foods that May Cause Gas. Last accessed on January 22, 2022.
International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Tips on Controlling Gas. Last accessed on January 22, 2022.
University of Michigan Health. (2007). Helpful hints for controlling gas (flatus). Last accessed on January 22, 2022.
University of Michigan Health. Gas (Flatus). Last accessed on January 22, 2022.
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