Top 10 Vegetables that cause Gas and Bloating

gas-bloating

It really does suck when vegetables are an important part of your diet and provide many nutritional benefits, that some of us really can’t stomach them. No pun intended. Certain vegetables will cause more gas and other digestive upsets like bloating and cramping.

If you are having excessive cramps or gas you may want to know what the most common culprits are and how to combat them if you still wish to enjoy them.

Beans

beansBeans of all types may affect you later during the day you eat them but most likely will always upset you the day after. Beans contain a lot of fibre and are generally very healthy for you. The bigger issue in beans though is something called Raffinose.

Raffinose is the most prevalent of the indigestible carbs known as oligosaccharides and are found in all forms of beans. Raffinose can not be broken down in the small intestines as humans lack the enzyme needed to do this. Therefore beans pass through your intestinal tract completely undigested.

Once they reach your large intestine bacteria thrive on it and begin to ferment the Raffinose into large volumes of gases including hydrogen and methane. This causes both the bloating and cramping.

Three ways to continue enjoying beans are as follows.

  1. Take an OTC medication called Bean-zyme. When taken at the same time as beans, peas and other veggies will provide the necessary enzyme to help break down oligosaccharides before they can cause bloating and gas.
  2. Soaking dried beans overnight in water with a tablespoon of vinegar will reduce the amount of Raffinose. Drain them before use and cook in fresh water.
  3. Adding fennel seeds to any dish you cook with beans may also help. As fennel is a natural anti-gas herb. It smells very pleasant and in cooking gives an anise-flavored spice. Drinking fennel tea both before and after meals may also help.

Peas

peas and chickpeasThese too contain  indigestible oligosaccharides and are in the same family of legumes. Chickpeas often used in Indian and Mid-Eastern recipes should also be avoided. One thing to note is that although beans and peas will cause excessive gas they do not generally give off an offensive smell. So if you are passing gas with an offensive smell then likely your culprit is a sulfur vegetable, discussed next.

Broccoli

Broccoli is so good for you and recently has even been identified as being full of anti-cancer compounds. Great! Except, that it also contains sulfur compounds which is the problem if you are experiencing high gas. Sulfur gives off that classic smell of rotten eggs.

One way to combat the digestion issue with broccoli is to chew your food thoroughly and slowly eat it which will help to reduce the amount of gas. Another is to improve your gut/intestinal environment by taking a quality probiotic as directed.

Broccoli also contains fibre and Raffinose but generally small amounts isn’t a problem for healthy digestive system. Many people can build slowly the amount of broccoli they eat to a point where it no longer causes gas problems.

Cabbage

sauerkraut

Cabbage is another high sulfur food causing gas problems. One way though to enjoy this vegetable is by eating fermented cabbage in the form of sauerkraut. Eating it this way it is actually more nutritious for you and since it is predigested with bacteria it has much less of a chance of causing gas issues than regular cabbage.

Cauliflower

While cauliflower is usually not as bad as broccoli or cabbage it can still cause issues the next day. Since usually the gas and bloating aren’t as severe, you can combat this by having a cup of warm peppermint tea. The tea will help to greatly reduce the gas and also give you fresh smelling breath.

Brussel Sprouts

Like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, small amounts of brussel sprouts should not cause problems for a well functioning digestive system. However many people will eat these only few times a year usually when they are already having a huge meal to begin with like at Christmas and Thanks Giving.

They still contain Raffinose and sulfur and eating them quickly not chewing them properly will then cause them to end up in the lower intestine undigested and ready for fermentation by bacteria causing gases.

If you’d like to eat brussel sprouts, start by eating them in smaller quantities with other vegetables that are low gas causing like carrots, zucchini, bell pepper and spinach.

Onions

While onions are a prebiotic and very good for you, it’s the fructans that can cause gastrointestinal upset in many people. If you have had a particularly large amounts of onion in a meal try following it up with a cup of ginger tea. Ginger tea will not only help to relieve the pain but also reduce any onion breath.

Asparagus

asparagusAsparagus is probably not eaten as often as some of the other vegetables mentioned here, yet they still contain both fructans and raffinose causing stomach gas and bloating. However like the other healthy vegetables they shouldn’t be avoided either. Chewing your food slowly and pre-digesting it by chewing it thoroughly will help. Again a cup of ginger afterwards may help to alleviate any gas pains.

Mushrooms

Usually small servings do not cause issues but having a larger meal of mushrooms as in a mushroom soup just might. Mushrooms are not normally thought of as a gas forming food because they contain only moderate amounts of fructans and raffinose.

Artichokes

artichokeThough not eaten often by many people, artichokes do contain a very high amount of fructans. If you are consuming these only once in a while chances are you will be ok. However if you choose to eat them regularly note that they are to be avoided by anyone who does not have a good intestinal system.

Cooking artichokes with a teaspoon of fennel seeds can greatly help to reduce pain from gas and bloating. Fennel tea both pre and post a meal of artichokes may also help.

Note that although this article is geared towards gas causing vegetables, they are still very important to eat because they contain many essential vitamins and minerals for your body.

There are far worse offenders, that are also much more commonly consumed by people. The two worst ones are “lactose” found in milk and “malabsorbed fructose” found in many pre-packaged supermarket foods and drinks.

food combination

Click to open full size image

Tips and Tricks

If you really must avoid some of these vegetables, try to substitute them with low gas vegetables as these rarely cause gas and bloating. Some examples of low gas vegetables are carrots, celery, zucchini, butternut squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplant, spinach, Swiss Chard, alfalfa, parsley and even small servings of steamed potatoes.

Remember to take smaller bites, eat slowly and thoroughly chew your food to predigest them, giving them less of a chance to ferment in your bowels. Drinking a lot of liquids with a meal can also can problems as the liquids dilute the stomach acids necessary for the breakdown of foods. You are much better off having water or herbal tea just before having a meal rather than with your meal.

If you think vegetables are causing your problems, start off slowly and add one vegetable at a time. This will help to pinpoint which vegetable is causing any issues. A mixture of high gas vegetables is also worse than eating one high gas vegetable with other low gas vegetables. A broad spectrum digestive enzyme may also do the trick.

Improve your gut health. Bloating and gas pains are often the sign of unbalanced gut flora. The bacteria found in your digestive tract can either be highly beneficial or highly destructive. Using probiotics regularly will help repopulate the “good bacteria” found in your gut.

Any time you take antibiotics be aware that they also kill off “good bacteria” as well as the bad ones and it is necessary to take probiotics to restore balance. Taking probiotics at double dose for two weeks following a course of antibiotics should get you back on course.