After a weekend of indulging, it’s no surprise you feel bloated on Monday. But it’s not always rich, fatty foods that cause ballooning in your midsection. It turns out that the biggest culprits for those prone to tummy troubles are FODMAPs, finds research from The International Journal of Clinical Practice.
The acronym stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. In short: “These carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly fermented by bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract,” says Julia Greer, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. This process creates gas, which leads to symptoms like bloating. (Lose up to 15 pounds WITHOUT dieting with Eat Clean to Get Lean, our 21-day clean-eating meal plan.)
For short-term relief, Greer recommends lying on your stomach, exercising, and drinking water to help gas bubbles move along. But if you frequently have that too-full feeling, Lin Chang, MD, professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, suggests keeping a daily diary that includes meals, bloating symptoms, and bowel habits to help identify triggers. You may find that the 7 foods below are common offenders.
It’s touted for it’s belly-calming probiotics, but certain types of yogurt could actually be doing you more harm than good. That’s because dairy products contain varying levels of the sugar molecule lactose, which gets fermented in your body and creates gas bubbles and bloating, Greer says. But that doesn’t mean all yogurts are off-limits.
Plain Greek yogurt, which often has around 12 grams of sugar and plenty of protein, is a good bet. Nonfat and low fat yogurts, on the other hand, may contain close to 30 grams of sugar, making them a much gassier choice.
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower all contain a type of carbohydrate called raffinose. Because we don’t make the enzyme needed to break down raffinose, it passes through the small intestine undigested. And when food enters the large intestine without being broken down it gets fermented by bacteria.
The result? Gas build-up in the colon, which generates bloating and particularly smelly flatulence, Greer explains. To make these veggies easier on your stomach, try roasting them. While it won’t break down the raffinose, it can make them easier to chew, which in turn increases the surface area for digestion, she says. (Got gas? Here are 7 things your gas it trying to tell you.)
Resistant starch is a type of non-digestible fiber naturally found in the outer shell of beans. To ease bean-induced bloating, Greer recommends soaking the dried legumes overnight. Hydrating them will break down some of the starch, so less of it makes its way to your colon, she says.
Fructan, a carb found in onions, can spell trouble for your belly. “Foods like leeks, shallots, and onions are poorly absorbed and cause increased water content in the intestine,” Chang says. The result? Gas production and bloating.
This naturally sweet fruit has a very high level of fructose. According to Greer, roughly 30 to 40% of people can’t fully absorb fructose, which leads to bloating, gas, and sometimes diarrhea.
6. Artificial Sweeteners
Sorbitol and xylitol, sweeteners often found in chewing gum, absorb very slowly in the small intestine. As a result, these sugar alcohols can cause gas, bloating, cramping, and sometimes diarrhea.
Wheat and rye are on this list due to their non-digestible fructan content. For those with gluten intolerance, eating these grains (and others) causes an immune reaction, destroying the lining of the small intestine, Greer says. This leads to gas, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation. But even if you don’t have a gluten intolerance, the insoluble fiber can still be fermented by bacteria, leading to—you guessed it—abundant gas.