Foods to avoid that make you bloated

Updated February 21, 2017

There's no rhyme and little reason to foods that can make you feel bloated. The culprits aren't just greasy fast foods like burgers and fries. Some of the healthiest foods around, like broccoli, can fill your stomach with gas. It all boils down to glitches in the digestive process, or the inability to process certain foods.

Greasy Foods

Greasy fast foods like burgers, French fries, fried chicken, or anything else cooked in oil can cause bloating because it takes the stomach much longer to break down the fats and properly digest them. This extra time allows gas to build up, causing bloating.

High-Sodium Foods

Salt is a big culprit when it comes to bloating. Foods with high amounts of sodium--from tinned soup to soda--cause the body to retain water, which leads to a bloated feeling.

Artificial Sweeteners

Diet soft drinks, sugarless gum, and anything else that relies on artificial sweeteners can lead to bloating or, worse, to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Problem sweeteners include aspartame, saccharin, sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, mannitol, cyclamates and sucralose. These artificial sweeteners linger in the stomach because they cannot be digested, and after enough build-up they act as a platform for the fermentation of bacteria, leading to production of hydrogen gas.

Sugars and Starches

Sugars and starches also can cause gas, and there's a certain sugar called raffinose that really tends to inflate the belly and make you feel bloated. Raffinose is found in otherwise healthy vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, as well as in beans and peas.

Dairy Products

Dairy products, from a glass of milk to a scoop of ice cream, can make your stomach swell if you happen to be lactose-intolerant. Lactose intolerance is a condition in which your stomach is unable to digest the lactose, or milk sugar, in dairy products. Many adults have this problem, particularly as they get older, because as people age they produce less lactase, the enzyme our bodies use to digest lactose. Without enough lactase, the lactose ferments, creating gasses that make you feel bloated.

Carbonated Drinks

Any carbonated drinks--tonic water, club soda and soft drinks--can cause bloating because the carbon dioxide trapped in the bubbles creates gas in the stomach. Burping can relieve some, but not all, of the gas.

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About the Author

Thomas K. Arnold is publisher and editorial director of "Home Media Magazine" and a regular contributor to "Variety." He is a former editorial writer for U-T San Diego. He also has written for "San Diego Magazine," "USA Today" and the Copley News Service. Arnold attended San Diego State University.