A Harvard Gut Doctor Shares 8 Foods That Cause Bloating—and What She Eats Instead

Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, a gut doctor and Harvard Medical School professor, shares the foods she avoids that cause bloating.

A Harvard Gut Doctor Shares 8 Foods That Cause Bloating—and What She Eats Instead

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One in 10 people

After eating, you may feel bloated or gassy.

As a


Associate Professor of Medicine at

Harvard Medical School

I am often asked what causes bloating and how to stop it.

There are many factors that can cause bloating.

many potential factors

One common cause is what we eat.

Poorly absorbed by the stomach


Avoid these foods if you experience frequent bloating after meals:

Sweetened foods

About a third of people have fructose malabsorption.

Half of the population

Cells in the intestine can have difficulty absorbing fructose.

Avoid foods that are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, such as:


Bread and baked goods packaged

Fruits packaged in packaging

Sweetened dairy products such as yogurt

Sauces like ketchup

Soft drinks and juice

Choose whole foods instead of sugary drinks.

Bloating can be caused by carbonation

Choose flat water or vegetable juices.

  1. Fructose-rich fruits

Avoid (or only consume in moderation) fruits that are high in fructose.








Ripe bananas



For my fruit fix I like to eat bananas that are firm and slightly unripe, blackberries, blueberries or strawberries.

Onions and other vegetables with fructans or galactans

Even vegetables, especially those with lots of fiber can cause bloating.


Gassiness can be caused by carbohydrate breakdown in the gut.

Bloating is most likely caused by these vegetables:









Brussels sprouts

Savoy cabbage


Snow peas

Choose less sweet options such as carrots, beans, avocados and celery.

Milk and other dairy products

Lactose intolerance affects

68% of the population

As we age, this becomes more prevalent.

To reduce bloating and stomach discomfort, dairy products such as milk or ice-cream can be replaced with lactose free alternatives. However, not all your favorite foods are off limits.

Most people tolerate unsweetened yogurt, since most of the lactose has been broken down. Hard or aged cheeses, such as parmesan, brie and mozzarella, Swiss, goat cheese, and Swiss, are generally more tolerated.


Many beans, lentils and peas are included in


A type of sugar the body cannot break down. Beans contain a lot of fiber and can cause gassiness.

You are more likely to get gas if you eat black beans, navy beans kidney beans pinto beans soy beans. Green beans, black-eyed beans and mung bean are better alternatives.

  1. Sugar substitutes

Avoid sugar alcohols that end in "-ol" such as sorbitol. They are a good alternative to sugar alcohols.

Gas and bloating are common symptoms

We cannot decompose them.

Stevia and monkfruit extracts are healthier, and less likely cause gas and bloating.


Gluten-containing foods can cause bloating for people who are gluten intolerant. Avoid wheat, rye, and barley if you are intolerant.

Choose foods that are easier on your stomach, like rice, quinoa and oats.

Fermented foods

Fermented foods are a great way to get your fermented food fix.

Strengthen your gut microbiome

Some may cause temporary gas and bloating. For a more comfortable stomach, I suggest limiting the intake of kimchi and kombucha.

Reduce bloating in more ways

In addition to diet, I recommend that patients do four other things to prevent bloating.

Avoid swallowing air.

Slowly and gently chew each bite of food. Avoid talking or chewing while you are eating.

Flat water is a good choice.

Avoid sodas and carbonated beverages.

After eating, take a 10- to 15-minute walk.

Researchers have found

This helps to speed up the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestines.

Massage your abdomen to remove gas and stool.

Massage your entire abdomen if it is bloated. Start at your right hip, move up and across to your upper abdomen. Then massage your left side down, until you reach your pelvis. Massage your lower abdomen from your right to left side.

These tips are based upon my research and medical experience. If you suffer from chronic or severe bloating problems, it is best to consult your physician.

Dr. Jacqueline Wolf

Associate Professor of Medicine at

Harvard Medical School

A gastroenterologist is available at

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston

She is also the author of "

Take Control of Your Digestive System: A Woman's Guide

", co-founder

Foodicine Health

The non-profit organization is dedicated to food education.

Dr. Judy Nee

This article was written by Dr., assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School.

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