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Anti-Flatulence Diet Plan:
Foods That Cause Less Flatulence, Bloating, Gas, & Indigestion

by Jo Jordan

 

When trying to avoid bloating and flatulence-producing foods, everything out there seems like an anti-grocery list of what not to eat instead of what we really need to know: what we can eat instead.

One of the reasons for this is that most foods cause bloating, gas and flatulence and, unfortunately, many of the worst flatulence-causing culprits are the foods that are the most nutritious and healthy for us!

But there are foods that tend not to incite as much bloating and flatulence production as others. There are also food combinations to avoid, certain diet-related practices that can be incorporated in order to minimize the amount of bloating and flatulence your body produces, and ways to help your digestive system cope with its busy job.



Foods That Are LESS Likely To Cause Bloating, Gas, and Flatulence

Low-carbohydrate vegetables

  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bok choy
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Greens (chard, collards, endive, kale, lettuces, mustard greens, spinach)
  • Herbs (basil, chervil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, thyme)
  • Jicama
  • Lacto-fermented vegetables (i.e. kim chee, pickles, and sauerkraut are low gas producers; they also aid digestion)
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Pumpkin
  • Radicchio
  • Scallions
  • Sea vegetables (i.e. dulse, nori, sea lettuce, seaweed)
  • Sprouts (alfalfa, broccoli, clover, lentil, mung bean, radish; also legumes, when sprouted, are low in carbs)
  • Tomatoes
  • Water chestnuts
  • These veges are a bit higher in carbohydrates, but still present some viable options:
  • Avocado
  • Celeriac
  • Chives
  • Coconut
  • Dandelion greens
  • Peppers (orange, red, and yellow – not green as it’s difficult to digest)
  • Snow peas
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Yellow and/or green summer squash
  • Yellow wax beans
  • Zucchini








 

Low-sugar fruits

Certain sugars – fructose, lactose, raffinose, and sorbitol – are known to cause gas and bloating. Fructose is naturally present in wheat as well as in some vegetables and fruit. To avoid flatulence, focus on eating fruits low in sugar and, therefore, often less gassy:

Fruits low to medium in sugar (raw fruit, i.e. not canned or stewed)

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupes
  • Casaba melons
  • Cranberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Guavas
  • Honeydew melons
  • Huckleberries
  • Kiwis
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Nectarines
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Rhubarb
  • Raspberries
  • Salmonberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelons
In addition to being low in sugar, berries – especially strawberries and raspberries – are rich in antioxidants and vitamins; they’re a wonderful addition to salads, and taste great on grilled meats. Grapefruit is great in salads, especially when teamed with avocado slices. Have fun with fruit, and be creative!

Non-gassy Proteins

In general, foods comprised of fats and proteins cause very little flatulence, especially when compared to those containing carbohydrates. Try these low-flatulence protein foods:

  • Beef (lean)
  • Cheese (hard)
  • Chicken (white meat)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanut butter
  • Turkey (white meat)

Low Flatulence Wheat Alternatives

Wheat is difficult to break down and taxes the digestive system. As we age, we sometimes develop intolerances to certain foods, especially those that aren’t easily digestible. Many people have difficulty digesting wheat, resulting in fermentation and subsequent gas build-up when they eat wheat and wheat products. Replacing wheat with more easily digestible grains means less work for your digestive system…and less flatulence and bloating!

  • Cereal grains (same family as wheat): corn (may cause some flatulence), millet, rice (causes no flatulence whatsoever), teff, and wild rice; flours ground from these foods are good wheat flour substitutes
  • Non-cereal grains: quinoa flour is unsuitable for baking bread, but excellent for cookies and quick breads; rinse it for a few minutes to cleanse off the saponin, an enzyme inhibitor that can cause flatulence
  • Nut meal: ground nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts make a rich flour substitute for cookies and cakes; their short shelf life makes grinding your own with a food processor on an as-needs basis preferable; introduce them slowly, or their high fiber content may cause flatulence
  • Pasta comes in rice, corn, and quinoa varieties; some rice pasta brands are available in numerous varieties including elbow, shells, spaghetti, lasagna, and penne as well as fun shapes for kids.
  • Rice bread is made from rice flour and contains no allergy-inducing ingredients; rice is the only starch that produces no flatulence.
In some areas, rice pasta can only be purchased in specialty food stores; it’s also available from the Food Allergy Store via Amazon.com. Rice bread is available at some chain stores, often in the frozen food or health sections.

Non-flatulence Producing Dairy Substitutes

Some sugars cause gas, bloating, and flatulence. Lactose is a sugar. If you are lactose intolerant, try incorporating these dairy alternatives. They can be used in place of traditional comfort foods such as cheese and the dairy milk that goes with cereal, as well as eaten as desserts or used in baked goods.

  • Soya and tofu cheese comes in hard and soft forms, including cream cheese and cheese slices
  • Desserts: soya cream, Soyasun desserts, soya ice cream, and soya vanilla dessert (a custard substitute)
  • Almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, and soya milk
  • Soya yogurts (no refrigeration necessary)
  • Live soya yoghurts containing beneficial cultures (refrigerate)
  • Yeast flakes: sprinkle onto dishes for a cheesy flavor (contains lots of vitamin B)
  • Avocado, guacamole, humus, and tahini for sandwich spreads and salad dressings

Soy milk is the richest non-dairy milk alternative, making it excellent for baking, cooking, drinking, or over cereal. Some people say it makes them bloated and gassy. If so, they may be allergic to soy.

Creamy, often a bit sweet, and high in vitamin E and other essential nutrients, some people prefer to make their own almond milk (Homemade Almond Milk Recipe), and flavor it with carob powder, maple syrup, and other favorite flavors. While almonds make some people gassy, most report that almond milk does not.

Note that many who are lactose intolerant can eat aged dairy cheeses and/or yogurt without experiencing any bloating or flatulence.


Avoid Bloating and Flatulence Producing Combinations

Sometimes people say certain foods give them more flatulence or cause more bloating, when in reality it may not be the food specifically but, rather, the eating and/or preparation habits or problematic food combinations. For example…

Cook raw vegetables

Not all vegetables are created equal. People rave about the wonders of vegetables, but they can only be beneficial if your body digests them…and many vegetables are not very digestible. Broccoli, for example, as well as other members of the cruciferous family (Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, and kale), are extremely hard to digest, which is why they’re not recommended for those who wish to reduce bloating, gas, and flatulence.

In general, many vegetables are easier to digest if they are baked, sautéed, simmered, or steamed and some (such as members of the cruciferous) ALWAYS need to be cooked in order to be digestible. In their raw state they can suppress thyroid gland functioning (this gland makes and stores hormones that help regulate blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and the rate at which food is converted into energy). The human digestive system is simply not equipped to properly digest the fiber in certain vegetables.

This article lists vegetables that tend to be less gas producing. But you may want to try cooking some of the vegetables not included in the list above to determine whether or not they’re less gassy for your unique digestive system when cooked.

Make fruit and vegetable smoothies

Blending your fruits and vegetables in a smoothie is a great way to get a lot of your daily nutrition requirements in one go. And when you blend vegetables for smoothies, you’re breaking down the cellulose fiber in the vegetables, making them easier to digest.

Blend the following ingredients in a juicer until smooth…


Smoothie #1, Very Berry

  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 2 cups ice
Smoothie #2, Healthy Mix
  • 3 fresh carrots, peeled
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Golden Delicious apple, quartered and core removed
  • 2 handfuls of cashew nuts
  • 1/2 handful of sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of yoghurt
  • 1 small cup pear or apple juice
Smoothie #3, Tantalizing Tomato
  • 2 cups (chopped) tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Tabasco or hot sauce to taste
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 basil leaves
  • 2 cups ice


Avoid gassy food combinations

Schnitzel may be yummy, but its preparation involves the combination of two of the deadliest gas-producing no-no’s; schnitzel is breaded and deep fried. The wheat in bread contains the complex sugar raffinose, and highly refined white flour is one of the worst flatulence-producing culprits. And fried foods – such as anything pan- or deep-fried – top the list for being gassy.

Spices such as chili, coriander, and ginger are known to aid digestion. Yet some people claim spicy food gives them flatulence. Consider the fact that these spices are often in dishes prepared with coconut milk, the fat of which interferes with digestion. So it’s not necessarily the spices that are causing the problem.1

Chew, chew, chew

Pasta is easy to eat and requires very little chewing, leading some health care providers to suggest that if pasta were chewed sufficiently, it might not cause as much gas, bloating, and flatulence.

Check the labels

Many products, such as dietetic candies and sugar-free gums, contain sugars and artificial sweeteners. Manufactured from cornstarch, erythritol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol are examples of common sugar alcohols/artificial sweeteners. Products with these ingredients ought to be avoided.

In addition, the specific sugars that cause gas are fructose (fruit and fruit drinks, vegetables, wheat), lactose (milk, milk products such as cheese and ice cream, processed foods such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing), and raffinose (beans and cruciferous vegetables). Check the label and try to avoid products containing these three gas-producing sugars.


Strengthen Your Digestive System

Flatulence is associated with a lack of enzymes. Zinc is a precursor to enzyme production, so enzyme deficiency can be linked to zinc deficiency (zinc is found primarily in beef and shellfish). Without zinc, your system can’t produce the enzymes required to break down food.2



A comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement during or after each meal can also be helpful to people who are plagued with flatulence. They aid digestion by easing the effects of enzyme insufficiency. Look for digestive enzymes that include,

  • Amylase
  • Bromelain
  • Lactase
  • Lipase
  • Papain
  • Peptidase
  • Protease

Yogurt is an enzyme-rich food that is easy to digest for many people (unless they’re lactose intolerant). The acidophilus and bifida in yogurt are vital to the digestive process. Both yogurt and buttermilk help to decrease the amount of flatulence your body produces.

A powder supplement that some health care providers are touting the virtues of, FOS (fructooligosaccharides) helps gut bacteria to re-colonize. Becoming increasingly popular for its prebiotic effects, FOS is also said to aid in calcium absorption.


Eating Habits That Lessen Gas, Bloating, and Flatulence

  • Eat in a relaxed atmosphere
  • Eat and drink slowly
  • Chew your food well
  • Avoid over-eating, and eat smaller meals and snacks more often rather than fewer larger meals
  • Exercise regularly; a walk after meals is ideal
  • Drink plenty of fluids, but not with main meals as fluids can interfere with digestion
  • Avoid talking while eating, drinking through a straw, and/or chewing gum and/or eating hard candy (part of what you are swallowing is air)
  • Avoid carbonated drinks and beer, and sip rather than gulp beverages to lessen amount of air swallowed
  • Avoid smoking (air is inhaled and swallowed when you smoke)
  • Don’t chew gum or tobacco
  • Ensure dentures fit properly (poor-fitting dentures can cause excess air-swallowing when eating and drinking)


In Closing

Most food causes flatulence, so the list of low-flatulence producing foods isn’t as long as flatulence sufferers might wish it to be. However, there are many good, healthy ways to avoid being overly bloated and gassy.

First, remember fat- and protein-foods cause very little flatulence vs. most carbohydrate- and soluble fiber-containing foods; the sugars fructose, lactose, raffinose, and sorbitol; and starches such as corn, noodles, potatoes, and wheat. Rice is the only starch that doesn’t cause flatulence.

Second, rather than limit your diet to completely avoid bloating, gas, and flautlence, it may be healthier – and more interesting meal-wise – to first determine exactly which foods your unique digestive system is able to cope with. Everyone is different so you may be able to handle some of the fruits and vegetables not listed here because they tend to be gas producing for some.

Third, stick to less gassy foods when it’s especially important to be gas-free (social occasions, a job interview, a first date), and the rest of the time incorporate small amounts of foods that may produce more bloating and flatulence , but that you enjoy and that are healthy.

Lastly, be sure you are helping your system along as much as possible with daily digestive enzymes and enzyme-rich foods such as yogurt. Eat foods that help decrease the amount of bloating you suffer with and flatulence your body produces. There is much to consider when attempting to reduce bloating, gas, and flatulence woes, but with a little focus and a few minor changes you can do it!


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Notes:
1. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/10/09/1065601953367.html?from=storyrhs
2. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/10/09/1065601953367.html?from=storyrhs

 
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