7 foods that cause bloating and stomach pain

Feeling bloated after eating can be a digestive challenge or food intolerance. Sometimes bloating is due to hormones. Here are some foods that can contribute to to gas, bloating and stomach pain.
Feeling bloated after eating can be a digestive challenge or food intolerance. Sometimes bloating is due to hormones. Here are some foods that can contribute to to gas, bloating and stomach pain. | Adobe Stock

Cutting back on certain foods can help reduce bloating and stomach pain.

If you feel bloated after eating, it could be due to a digestive challenge or food intolerance, according to the Cleveland Health Clinic. Sometimes bloating is due to hormones. If your bloating becomes severe, contact a medical professional.

Let’s take a look at seven foods that can cause and contribute to bloating, stomach pain and gas.

1. Beans and other legumes

Beans are a type of legume with a reputation for causing bloating. Most beans and lentils contain carbs known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) — these are sugars which can be tricky for the body to break down, per Healthline . This process can result in bloating and gas.

Soaking beans and legumes before cooking them can help reduce FODMAPS and bloating after consumption, according to Medical News Today.

Eating beans and legumes more frequently could minimize bloating and digestive discomfort. A study published in the Nutrition Journal found that individuals who consumed beans daily for two to three months noticed a reduction in bloating and digestive symptoms.

2. Gluten — wheat, barley and rye

Wheat, barley, rye and some oats contain a protein called gluten, which can cause bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea and gas in people with a gluten sensitivity.

Roughly 1% of the U.S. population suffers from celiac disease, an autoimmune disease which results in severe gluten sensitivity, per the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity affects an estimated 6% of the U.S. population.

Even for those without a gluten intolerance, digesting these foods can be difficult due to their high insoluble fiber content.

“These out-of-the-field grains are packed with fiber. But it’s worth noting that they’re high in insoluble fiber — which doesn’t break down well during the digestive process,” reports the Cleveland Clinic. “As noted, foods that don’t digest well often end up logging more time in your gut.”


3. Dairy products

Dairy products boast several health benefits, but roughly 65% of the world’s population cannot break down lactose, the sugar in dairy products. This condition is called lactose intolerance, per the Cleveland Clinic.

Lactose intolerance becomes more common with age and is uncommon in babies and children. A 2013 study reports that 3 out of 4 people worldwide eventually suffer from a lactose intolerance.

“People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest the sugar (lactose) in milk. As a result, they have diarrhea, gas and bloating after eating or drinking dairy products. The condition, which is also called lactose malabsorption, is usually harmless, but its symptoms can be uncomfortable,” reports the Mayo Clinic.

There is a growing selection of plant-based, nondairy products with similar health benefits to substitute dairy products that cause bloating or stomach pain.


4. Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables contain sugars that can be difficult for the body to break down, especially if they are consumed infrequently. Some of the vegetables most likely to cause bloating include broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, leeks and shallots, per CNBC.

“These are healthful foods that contain many essential nutrients, including vitamins C and K, fiber, and potassium. However, they can cause some undesirable digestive symptoms, including bloating,” reports Medical News Today.

Raw vegetables are tougher for the body to digest, so cooking cruciferous vegetables before consuming them can reduce bloating and other digestive symptoms.

5. Carbonated beverages

Carbonated beverages, such as sodas and energy drinks, are made with carbon dioxide gas which can lead to bloating.

“Think about what happens if you shake a can of soda,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, per Cleveland Clinic. “That’s what is happening inside of you after you drink it. The bubbles have no place to go — and it will make you feel bloated.”

Frequently drinking carbonated sodas could increase the risk of diabetes and obesity, according to a study from the American Journal of Public Health. The healthiest beverage option is always flat water.

6. Apples

Apples are an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants, but they are also known to cause bloating, especially if you do not eat them often.

“The sugars, or fructose, that make these readily available fruits so tasty can complicate digestion and lead to bloating. Apples and pears can also be high in hard-to-process fiber if you eat the skin,” reports the Cleveland Clinic.

Fruits such as bananas, grapes, oranges and berries are easier for the body to digest and offer many of the same health benefits.

7. Artificial sweeteners

Foods sweetened artificially can cause digestive challenges such as bloating and gas, reports Medical News Today. Also known as sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, NutraSweet, Truvia and aspartame offer no nutritional benefit and are linked to cancer, per the Deseret News.

“Your body responds best to food that is natural,” says Czerwony, per Cleveland Clinic. “If something is artificially made, your body has more trouble processing it.”