A key factor in reducing intestinal gas and bloating is keeping food moving through the digestive process as quickly and efficiently as possible. Food that sits in the stomach or intestines for too long can create a feeling of constant fullness and bloating; it can also lead to food that has not been fully digested entering the colon where it will ferment and produce excess gas and cause bloating. This is so important that we have included information on which enzymes are critical to fast and efficient digestion of bloat causing foods.
Our goal is to help people enjoy all foods; both for the enjoyment delicious foods give to life and for the nutritional benefits that a varied diet brings. We do this by offering products that can help return the digestive system to a state of good health. However, many people have asked us which foods can help them, and which can hinder them, in their battle with abdominal bloat. So we put our experts to work making this list (see the bottom of this page for ideas on reducing embarrassing flatulence). As you will see from the two lists it is very difficult to avoid foods that can cause bloating. We encourage people to find ways to tolerate and even enjoy all foods without bloat and gas, rather than avoid so many wonderful and healthy foods.
Before we get to the lists here are a few tips to reduce bloating and gas:
Firstly….CHEW your food well. You have probably heard this before (maybe from Mom) but it is important and can help with stomach bloating. Digestion actually starts in the mouth as saliva contains enzymes that start to breakdown foods. Also the better food is chewed the smaller the particles will be that enter the stomach which means less work for the digestive system. No-Bloat™ comes in vegetarian capsules that are very easily separated and can be opened and poured directly onto your food if you prefer. This allows the enzymes in No-Bloat™ to start breaking down food in the mouth as well. Plant based enzymes have basically no taste.
Secondly, practice relaxing. Especially relaxing your stomach and the muscles around your abdomen. Stress is basically “sand in the machinery of life”; it can cause all sorts of maladies to manifest themselves and it makes efficient digestion difficult.
Thirdly, eating the heaviest part of your meal first can ensure that the highest concentration of digestive acid is available for the hardest to breakdown foods. Americans are used to starting off a big meal with light foods such a salads or appetizers. The stomach starts secreting digestive acid as soon as you start to eat. If all you have in your stomach is salad while you wait for the waiter to bring your steak, then you are going to have a large amount of acid working on small, easy to digest foods. In other countries including France and Italy, this is recognized and they start off their meals with the heavy foods and eat their salads after.
Many sources list salt as a bloat causing food/spice. Excessive salt can cause water retention but the bulk of this “retention” is in the skin, causing puffiness. All of us who experience true bloating know it is a far different matter. So while these sources focus on salt and reducing salt rich foods and increasing potassium to offset the excess salt, we do not include this in our bloating foods list because water retention, though bothersome, is different than stomach bloating.
Foods and drinks to avoid:
1) Chlorinated water. Chlorine is currently used by over 95 percent of all U.S. water utilities that disinfect their drinking water. It has proved very effective in eliminating the germs and bacteria from tap water that can potentially make you ill. That’s a good thing, but Chlorine kills pathogens such as bacteria and viruses by attacking and killing enzymes which in turn, kills the cell or bacterium. Drinking chlorinated water can kill enzymes in your digestive tract and also kill good bacteria or probiotics, having a doubly bad effect on digestion. So if you sip on a glass of chlorinated water while eating your enzyme and Probiotic rich Greek yogurt you may just be killing much of the enzymes and good bacteria like acidophilus, and fail to obtain the healthy benefits.
2) Coffee, tea, sodas and energy drinks high in caffeine can give us an energy boost but they also can cause the stomach (and the rest of the body) to tense up, which leads to inefficient digestion and gas and bloating. Try and stay as stress free as possible and concentrate on relaxing your stomach and the muscles in your abdomen.
3) High acid drinks like coffee, sodas, orange juice and tomato juice can increase the acid level in the stomach and lead to increased symptoms of acid reflux, stomach pain and bloating.
4) Alcohol and beer. Alcohol contains sugars that can feed bacteria and yeast in your gut causing a release of gasses. Excessive alcohol can also kill beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract causing an overgrowth of bad bacteria and even Candida yeast. Beer is a complex drink which is actually classified as a “food of plant origin”. It contains protein, carbohydrates, gluten, minerals, carbon dioxide and some beers actually contain live yeast cells. The protein and gluten enzymes Proteases, Aspergillopepsin, Peptidase DPPIV, Bromelain and Papain work hand in hand with carbohydrate digesting enzymes Amylase, Glucoamylase, Pectinase and Xylanse to break down the food like components of beer. The enzyme Phytase breaks down the gas causing phytate that beer gets from grains used in its making. Insuffcient levels of these enzymes can lead to gas and bloating from beer.
5) Carbonated beverages are a no-brainer for those who are trying to reduce the level of gas in their abdomen. Carbonated beverages of any kind get their bubbles from carbon dioxide. The un-dissolved carbon dioxide in the drink will slowly release in your gut and supply gas directly to your digestive system.
6) Dairy products. Estimates vary but between 60%-75% of adults in the USA are at least somewhat lactose intolerant. Lactose is the hard to digest, and main bloat causing component of dairy. With processed foods containing dairy and so many prepared meals containing dairy, it is hard to avoid the lactose that can cause bloating. Raw, unpasteurized milk and dairy products contain the enzyme Lactase and a host of other good for you enzymes. Lactase is the specific enzyme that breaks down the lactose (milk sugars) in dairy. Raw dairy also contains the important enzymes Amylase, Catalase, and Lipase. It is very difficult to find raw dairy products in the USA and it could possibly be unsafe for people who have not been raised on it and whom are not accustomed to the bacteria that may be present. In addition to Lactase the enzymes which break down dairy foods are Lipase which breaks down the fats, and Proteases (1, 2 and acid stable), Peptidase DPPIV plus Bromelain and Papain which break down the proteins.
7) All Starches. Potatoes, rice, cereals, and grains are high in carbs and contain sugars, both of which are a favorite food of the bad bacteria and yeast in your digestive tract. Poor soils, chemical fertilizers, insecticides and food processing contribute to this problem because they reduce or eliminate the enzymes that should naturally be present in these foods. Breads, tortillas, pasta, popcorn, crackers, oats, pancakes and waffles, beans and pizza are all high carbohydrate foods which can also contain sugars. Amylase, Cellulase Glucoamylase AGS a-Galactosidase (Alpha-galactosidase), Beta-Glucanase, Pectinase, Xylanse and Phytase work together acting on various stages of the breakdown of these foods.
8) BEANS or legumes, including peanuts. No respectable anti-bloating food list would be complete without beans which often create excessive gas. Beans contain sugar compounds of the raffinose family of oligosaccharides that is not digested by the human body without the enzyme AGS a-Galctosidase (Alpha-Galactosidase). This is the only enzyme in the product Beano®. But beans are not the only source of these gas creating sugars, it is also found in soy products, wheat, asparagus, onions, leeks and garlic, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. But the source that most will be surprised to learn of is the food additives Inulin and Oligofructose which can be found in the ingredients list of many processed foods such as cereals, granola bars and cookies. Depending on the variety of beans the digestive enzymes Amylase, Cellulase Glucoamylase, Beta-Glucanase, Pectinase, and Xylanse can be needed to act on various stages of the breakdown of these foods or gas and bloating will result. Legumes are also high in another gas producing compound called phytic acid (also called phytate), an enzyme blocking compound that actually inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food. Phytase is the enzyme that breaks down phytic acid (see nuts (16) below for more on phytic acid and the Phytase enzyme).
The gassy effect beans have can be reduced by soaking beans in water for at least 8 hours prior to cooking. Drain the soak water and rinse the beans prior to cooking. Adding baking soda at a rate of 1/16 teaspoon per quart to the soak water can also help to reduce the gas producing compounds.
Cooking and spicing beans with the herb epazote has long been used as a de-gassing trick by Mexican cooks. Epazote is a carminative herb; the word carminative is defined as “relieving flatulence”. In India Ajwain (carom seeds), also a carminative herb, is used in the cooking and spicing of beans to reduce gassiness.
9) ALL modern farmed, store bought fruits and vegetables have the potential and components to cause bloating and gassiness (the few that are not so much bloat inducing are listed in the next section). Modern farming, food production and processing can drastically reduce the natural enzymes that should be present in these wonderful foods, which makes them much harder to digest. This is a sad truth that leaves people who suffer bloating with a choice of either eating healthy and suffering painful gas and bloat, or avoiding the healthiest foods in the human diet. Fibers are present in all fruits and veggies (apples and pears are especially high in fiber on the fruit side and cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli on the vegetable side). Sugars as well, are also present in both fruits and vegetables. These fibers and sugars feed bad bacteria and yeast in an unbalanced digestive system which give off large amounts of gasses as a byproduct. Having a gas factory located directly in your digestive system is not a good thing for bloat sufferers. Amylase, Cellulase Glucoamylase AGS a-Galactosidase (Alpha-galactosidase), Beta-Glucanase, Pectinase, Xylanse and Phytase are needed to work together, acting on various stages of the breakdown of the carbs and fibers in these foods, while Invertase breaks down the sucrose found in many sweet fruits and vegetables.
10) Artificial sweeteners. As an ironic twist to those seeking to deprive yeast of its favorite food (sugar) by substituting sweeteners like Xylitol, Erythritol, Maltitol and Sorbitol is that they can actually be increasing bloating and gas. With the exception of Xylitol, these sweeteners can end up being consumed by bacteria and yeast in the large intestine causing painful gas and bloating. Some artificial sweeteners are oddly recognized as proteins by the body and thus broken down by Proteases, Bromelain and Papain, others are not recognized as food by the body and pass through undigested (except by bacteria and yeast). Xylitol is not broken down by bacteria but a well documented side effect of Xylitol is gas and bloating.
11) Gluten. Most people are not allergic to gluten but many can experience sensitivities to large amounts of it because of a lack of enzymes capable of breaking it down. Wheat is the chief culprit in providing gluten to a variety of foods. Like most food components that are not broken down by enzymes in the digestive process, gluten can end up feeding bad bacteria which produce gasses and bloating. Studies have shown that the digestive enzyme Aspergillopepsin when combined with Peptidase DPPIV and other protein enzymes can break down Gluten protein which may help those with mild sensitivity to Gluten. 1-5 *
12) Avoid spicy foods and hot spices. Spices can be the spice of life, bringing a flavor boost to our favorite meals and they also contain valuable vitamins and minerals. However spicy foods can trigger the secretion of more digestive acid, adding to symptoms of acid reflux and bloating.
13) Avoid foods with a high fat or oil content such as fatty meats and fried foods as these increase the production of stomach acid leading to symptoms of acid reflux. Fats can also be difficult and slow to digest. As mentioned previously, a key factor in reducing bloat and gas pain is keeping food moving through the digestive process as quickly and efficiently as possible. Lipase is responsible for breaking down fats in the body. Insufficient levels of this important digestive enzyme can lead to food sitting in the stomach for too long and possibly reaching the colon not fully broken down, where it will ferment causing intestinal gas and bloating.
14) Avoid high acid foods such as tomatoes and citrus such as orange, lemon and lime which are highly acidic.
15) Table sugar (sucrose). Perhaps the worst of the sugars because it is so easily consumed by bacteria and yeast which pump out bloating gasses. Invertase is responsible for breaking down the sucrose that is naturally present in foods and also that which is added in food processing.
16) Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds cause bloating chiefly because they contain high levels of the enzyme inhibitor phytic acid (or phytate). This is a compound that reduces the effectiveness of other digestive enzymes which clearly is not a good thing for those who suffer from bloating. Have you even noticed how long legumes, nuts and seeds can be stored without rotting? That’s the phytic acid in action preventing enzymes from breaking them down. Legumes and grains also contain significant levels of phytic acid. The enzyme Pytase which is not produced by the human body, is needed to break down this compound which is often referred to as a toxin. Soaking, sprouting or dehydrating nuts and seeds can reduce the phytic acid levels in them and make them less bloating.
No-Bloat™ was formulated to provide ALL of the digestive enzymes listed above which are responsible for breaking down bloat causing foods and drinks. ALL of the enzymes in No-Bloat™ are 100% natural, plant based and proudly made in the USA.
Foods and drinks that do NOT meaningfully contribute to bloating (or the short list):
1) Un-chlorinated water and herbal teas. Peppermint and ginger provide a calming and soothing effect on the digestive system, herbal teas containing these are great.
2) Low fat, unprocessed meats like chicken breast without the skin, and fish.
3) Lettuce, spinach, kale and chard are healthy foods that can decrease acid indigestion.
4) Vegetables: zucchini and other squashes.
5) Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, Cantaloupe and sour cherries (not sweet cherries) are low in sugars and fiber
Honorable mentions: Green (or string) beans are listed as a food that does not cause bloating in many no bloat diet lists, but they are beans and contain oligosaccharide (but not as much as other beans).
Bananas are low in sugar but are reported by many as causing gas and bloat, because they contain a small level of Inulin. Apricots are listed on some lists as good for bloat and other as bad, Apricots and casaba melons are low in sugar and fiber but both contain an addition sugar called maltose which may be harder for some to digest than other sugars.
If you are looking for a way to reduce foul smelling flatulence then you need to avoid foods that are high in sulfur. Intestinal gasses are 99% hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide which are odorless gasses. Some people produce noticeable levels of hydrogen sulfide which smells like rotten eggs, and/or methane gas which smells like rotting vegetables.
The chief culprit in smelly gas is high sulfur foods such as cauliflower, asparagus, eggs and meat. Although beans are famous for making people pass gas, they are less likely to produce smelly gas. Sulfur is an important nutrient for the body and a diet eliminating sulfurous foods (or any other nutritional food) is not a wise long term approach. It is better to supplement the diet with enzymes so these foods can be tolerated and to take steps to help heal the digestive system so that these foods do not present problems.
Beano® is a registered trademark of Prestige Brands.
Information provided on this site is for educational use only, and is not intended as medical advice. If you have health concerns you should always check with your health care professional before self-administering remedies. This information has not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any medical condition.
* This is not an indication that Celiac patients can eat Gluten or even people with moderate to strong sensitivities to Gluten.
References: (1) A Food-Grade Enzyme Preparation with Modest Gluten Detoxification Properties, Plos One research publications available at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0006313 (2) Digestive Enzyme Supplementation in Gastrointestinal Diseases available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4923703/ (3) The Role of Enzyme Supplementation in Digestive Disorders Dr. Roxas, ND available at: http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/13/4/307.pdf (4) Bromelain is an accelerator of phagocytosis, respiratory burst and Killing of Candida albicans by human granulocytes and monocytes available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11410400 (5) Effect of Amylase, Papain and Pepsin enzyme solutions on Candida biofilm formed on acrylic resin plates available at: http://jrds.ir/article-1-355-en.html Other references: (1) Cichoke, Anthony J. (1999). The Complete Book of Enzyme Therapy. Avery Publishing Group: New York. (2) Santillo, Humbart. Food Enzymes: Missing Link to Radiant Health. (3) The Probiotics Revolution, The definitive guide to safe, natural health solutions using Probiotic and prebiotic foods and supplements, By Gary B. Huffnagle and Sarah Wernick (4) The Probiotic Cure: Harnessing the Power of Good Bacteria for Better Health, Martie Whittekin, CCN