A little gas is healthy, says Massachusetts-based Kate Scarlata, a registered and licensed nutritionist who’s an expert on irritable bowel syndrome. But when gas becomes bothersome or painful, identifying the foods that cause it can relieve unnecessary GI distress.
Check out these unexpected foods because they might be the culprit!
Wheat bread contains fructan, a water-soluble fiber for which humans lack the digestive enzymes to break down. When our bodies can’t break something down, we get gassy. Scarlata says substituting slow-leavened sourdough wheat bread for traditionally leavened wheat bread can reduce the fructan content and make for easier digestion.
Starches such as pasta (corn and potatoes, too!) produce gas as they break down in the large intestine. Did you know that rice is the only starch that does not cause gas?
Garlic is also a source of fructan. To avoid getting gassy, Scarlata recommends cooking chunks of garlic in olive oil in a skillet over low heat, then discarding the garlic. The oil becomes infused with great garlicky flavor, perfect for cooking savory dishes.
Like garlic, onions contain gas-causing fructans. Onion powder is hidden in many spice blends, sauces and broths. “The fructans are in the bulb on onions,” says Scarlata. “For onion flavor without the gassy consequences, try the green part of scallions or chives.”
One of Scarlata’s patients says her gas and painful bloating disappeared completely when she stopped her daily soy latte habit. Most soy milk in the U.S. is made with whole soybeans that contain galacto-oligosaccharide, a fiber that our gut microbes consume rapidly to create gas. “Switch to almond milk,” Scarlata says. “It is low in fermentable carbs and is a lower gas-making option.
Many commercial granola bars contain chicory root to boost fiber content. Chicory root is a rapidly fermented fiber that can result in copious gas for some people. Seek out bars without chicory root, or make your own.