Which foods make us prone to bloating?
What you eat may affect bloating symptoms, and some people have increased sensitivity to common foods. For example, we know specific carbohydrates, certain types of fiber, and dairy products are common triggers. This is due to poor digestion of these sugars in the small intestine, which leads to increased production of gas in the colon by bacteria, a process known as fermentation.
High-fiber vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and legumes (beans and lentils) are common triggers too, as the body has more difficulty breaking down the sugars in these vegetables, also known as oligosaccharides. Artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols such as wine, and dairy products also can contribute to bloating symptoms. If someone is sensitive to dairy products, known as lactose intolerance, their symptoms may improve with the addition of the lactase enzyme, which is available as a supplement at your local drugstore.
Can food intolerance be a cause?
Absolutely. Food intolerances and food allergies can cause bloating, because when you are intolerant of a specific food, your body can’t break it down properly. This leads to bloating, excessive gas, changes in bowel habits, and a host of other symptoms. The most common culprits for food intolerances or allergies are lactose (a sugar in dairy products), fructose (a sugar in many fruits and veggies), eggs, soy, nuts, wheat, and other gluten-containing foods like barley and rye. If you think you may have a food allergy or an intolerance to certain foods, it’s important to see a doctor to identify which foods you are sensitive to and how best to avoid them.
What are some medical causes and how do you treat them?
Bloating is often caused by increased gas production or difficulty transporting gas within the GI tract, but it can also be a symptom of medical conditions, including delayed emptying of the stomach or small intestine, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), dysbiosis (also called microbial imbalance), constipation, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), pancreatic insufficiency (when the pancreas does not make enough of a specific enzyme to digest food), celiac disease, or intestinal obstruction, which is what happens when stool is prevented from passing normally through the bowel. In most cases, bloating can be treated by changing one’s diet. However, if you are diagnosed with any of the medical conditions listed above, your treatment will depend on the cause of the bloating.