It’s no secret that what you put into your body each morning has a significant impact on the rest of your day. That’s why eating a nutritious breakfast free from processed ingredients, added sugar, and other harmful additive is essential your overall health—including your gut health. And as it turns out, the beverages you drink with your meal can be just as impactful as the food you eat. In fact, there are a few common morning drinks that health experts say you may want to cut out if you struggle with gas and bloating.
To learn more about some common causes of digestive issues like bloating and discover some of the worst culprits out there when it comes to morning beverages, we spoke to nutritionist Lisa Richards, creator of The Candida Diet, and GI Physiologist Jordan Haworth of The Functional Gut Clinic. They warned us about two drinks: dairy milk and fruit juice.
1. Dairy milk
Whether you drink it plain from a glass, add it to your coffee or tea, or even use it in your cereal, milk is a common breakfast beverage (and ingredient). However, Haworth warns that for many people, starting your day with dairy milk can lead to gas and bloating. That's because, as he explains, "Dairy milk contains a sugar called lactose. In order to digest lactose, we produce an enzyme called lactase in our gut, but as we get older many of us lose this enzyme leading to lactose intolerance. Undigested lactose gets converted into gas by bacteria at the end of our gut leading to bloating and flatulence." Even if you don't know that you have lactose intolerance, the chances are high; Haworth tells us that a whopping 70% of the world's population are "thought to have some degree of lactose intolerance." For this reason, it's best for most of us to avoid dairy milk.
Alternatives to dairy milk
Luckily, there are tons of more gut-friendly alternatives to dairy milk, such as lactose-free and plant-based milks. You may want to opt for oat milk (like our favorite, Planet Oat), soy milk, almond milk, or even some surprisingly tasty sesame milk—we love Hope and Sesame's flavors!
2. Store-bought fruit juice
Many of us enjoy a glass of fruit juice in the morning. Whether you prefer apple, orange, or some other variety, this may be a staple in your daily breakfast. However, Richards warns that it can be detrimental to your overall health—and on a smaller scale, it can cause or worsen issues like gas and bloating. This is especially true when it comes to sugary, processed varieties. "Beware of fruit juice that is made with added sugar, juice concentrate, and added flavor. This combination can irritate the gut and lead to gas and bloating," she warns, explaining that "These alcohols are almost entirely undigested upon reaching the gut where the bacteria begin breaking them down and producing gas." Unfortunately, the majority of fruit juices you'll find in the store will contain these unhealthy, gut-irritating ingredients—including the ones that seem healthy.
Alternatives to store-bought juice
Compared to fruit juice, green juice made with healthy veggies is always a great alternative—especially when you make it at home. And if you insist on drinking fruit juice, investing in a juicer so you can press your beverage from your own kitchen is always your best option. That way, you can make sure you know exactly what's going into your drink and kick any added sugars to the curb. However, eating whole fruits is much healthier, thanks to the fact that you reap the benefits of all that fiber!
The bottom line
While most things are okay in moderation, cutting dairy milk and fruit juice out of your diet is one great way to keep your gut health in check and keep gas and bloating at bay. Of course, the best gut-healthy option is always to start your day with a plain old glass of water, but alternative milks and green juices make for healthy alternatives to these beverages.