Top Foods That Cause Gas

Pinto beans are a common food that causes gas

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Gas is simply air in your digestive tract. It's normal to experience periodic gas, but having too much can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, especially when it's released by burping or flatulence.

Most of the time, having a little gas doesn't qualify as a medical problem, so you don't need to contemplate changing your diet whenever you experience a little gassiness. In fact, most of the foods that cause gas are good for you, providing essential and nutritious vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce gas without giving up delicious and nutritious foods.

What Foods Cause Gas?

Carbohydrate-rich foods tend to cause gas, whereas foods that contain mostly fats and proteins do not. That doesn't mean carbs are bad for you—in fact, lots of healthy carb-rich foods are high in beneficial nutrients like fiber.

That said, if you suddenly add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, you might notice more gas. The exchange may not seem fair ​since by adding these healthy whole foods, you're actually improving your diet. But take heart: Not all plant foods cause gas in everyone. Often, as your body adjusts to the change, you'll experience less gas.

Importantly, every body is different, and food sensitivities differ from person to person. What causes gas and digestive discomfort for one person may not have the same effect in another. However, with just a little trial and error, you can determine which foods you are most sensitive to. Commonly, these include:

  • Beans such as navy beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, and white beans: These foods are high in fiber and the sugar raffinose, which is difficult for people to digest. 
  • Vegetables including asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, and mushrooms: Many of these cruciferous vegetables, just like beans, are also high in raffinose and fiber, making them more likely to cause gas.
  • Fruits such as apples, peaches, and pears: These fruits—while often touted as health foods—are also high in the sugar fructose. Fructose can be a difficult sugar for some people to process and, as a result, can lead to excess gas.
  • Starches including potatoes, corn, pasta, and wheat, and any foods made with these ingredients: Starches can be high in gluten, and wheat, in particular, can also come loaded with additional fructose, all of which can lead to added gas.
  • Dairy products such as milk, cream, and ice cream all contain lactose, and lactose intolerance often leads to gas and bloating.
  • Carbonated and/or sugar-sweetened drinks such as soda and beer: Since these bubbly drinks contain added air in the form of carbonation, you consume more air as you drink them. This air enters your intestine and causes more burping and gas.
  • Foods with sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol, including sugar-free gums and other foods: These sugar alcohols can cause digestive challenges, including gas, bloating, and even diarrhea.

The common denominator here is carbohydrates that contain fructose, lactose, insoluble fiber, and starch. These components ferment in the large intestine, releasing gas as a byproduct of the process.

Other Causes of Gas

While food is often the main culprit behind gas, it can also be caused by eating too quickly (which can result in swallowing air), chewing gum, or sucking on hard candy.

There are also a number of conditions that can cause additional gastrointestinal issues that can lead to bloating, gas, and cramping. For example, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which occurs when an abundance of gut bacteria is present in your small intestine, can cause inadequate nutrition as well as gas.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), celiac disease, and lactose intolerance can also lead to excess gas, abdominal pain, and gut discomfort.

How to Reduce Gas

Gas is a natural byproduct of digestion, but excess gas can lead to bloating, belching, and flatulence, which can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. 

In addition to knowing which foods are most likely to cause gas, the following are simple ways you can reduce gas-related symptoms:

  • Use a food diary to keep track of the foods you eat to see if you can find any correlations between particular foods and excess gas. This way, you can begin to learn your personal trigger foods.
  • Add high-fiber foods to your diet slowly and gradually to reduce the digestive symptoms fiber can prompt.
  • Eat slowly and avoid carbonated beverages.
  • Consider taking digestive enzymes. There are over-the-counter treatments that contain enzymes to help break down the carbohydrates in the foods you eat, which can lessen gas production. If your gas is due to lactose intolerance, you can take products that contain lactase, the enzyme that digests milk sugar.
  • Switch up your diet. If you have IBS, for example, you may find relief from your digestive symptoms if you consume a low-FODMAP diet. Reducing consumption of high FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di- and mono-saccharides and polyols) foods may help reduce gas production in people with IBS.

When to See a Doctor

While removing certain foods from your diet and slowly introducing fiber can help to naturally reduce gas, if you have a medical condition, consult with a doctor or registered dietitian before significantly changing your diet. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing abdominal pain or discomfort along with gas, especially if you have any other health issues or digestive symptoms. They can rule out any serious health conditions.

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