Top Foods That Cause Gas

How to Avoid the Types of Foods That Make You Gassy

Pinto beans are a common food that causes gas

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Gas is simply air in your digestive tract. It's totally normal, but having too much can uncomfortable and embarrassing, especially when it's released by burping or flatulence (better known as farting).

Gas can be caused by eating too fast and swallowing air, chewing gum, or sucking on hard candy. But gas can also be produced when the friendly bacteria that live in your large intestine break down sugars and starches that come from some of the foods you eat. The bacteria create the gas as a byproduct. 

When Gas Is an Issue

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 important and nutritious vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.

So don't avoid these gassy foods all the time. Do so on occasions where you hope to be flatulence-free. Adding fiber to your diet slowly and gradually can also help to reduce the digestive symptoms fiber can prompt.

If you have a medical condition such as celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or irritable bowel syndrome, or if your symptoms are severe, however, then you will likely need to avoid foods that cause problems. Consult with a doctor or registered dietitian for advice.

Foods That Can 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 notice less gas.

With a little trial and error, you can also determine which foods you are most sensitive to. Commonly, these include:

  • Beans such as navy beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, and white beans 
  • Vegetables including asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, and mushrooms 
  • Fruits such as apples, peaches, and pears
  • Starches including potatoes, corn, pasta, and wheat, and any foods made with these ingredients
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks and apple juice
  • Carbonated beverages such as soda and beer
  • Dairy products such as milk, cream, and ice cream
  • Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol

The common denominator here is carbohydrates that contain fructose, lactose, insoluble fiber, and starch. These ferment in the large intestine, releasing gas as they do.

How to Prevent Excess Gas

Everybody produces some gas every day, but excess production can lead to bloating, belching, and flatulence, which can be uncomfortable as well as embarrassing. 

Use a food diary to keep track of the foods you eat to see if you can find any correlations between particular foods and gas production. You should also speak to your healthcare provider, especially if you have any other health issues or digestive symptoms. They can rule out any serious health conditions.

Eating slowly and avoiding carbonated beverages can help. Over-the-counter treatments that contain digestive enzymes may also help. The enzymes help break down the carbohydrates, 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.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may find relief from 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 if you have IBS.

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Article Sources
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  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diagnosis of gas in the digestive tract. Updated July 2016.

  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment for gas in the digestive tract. Updated July 2016.

  3. Muir JG, Gibson PR. The low FODMAP diet for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal disordersGastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2013;9(7):450-452.