When you're trying to get rid of gas and bloating, there are several foods that can cause gas (beans and broccoli, we're looking at you). But some of your favorite drinks can upset your stomach, too.
That's right, what you sip can stir up a storm of discomfort and lead to gas and bloating.
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Here, registered dietitians share eight beverages that could be behind that swollen feeling.
“If you find that a drink makes you feel bloated, this doesn’t mean you have to always avoid it — try drinking smaller amounts to help manage it,” says registered dietitian Amanda Sauceda, RDN, CLT.
"No matter what type of soda you drink, the tiny bubbles of carbonation can make you gassy," Sauceda says. And diet sodas are double trouble for your tummy since they typically contain non-gut-friendly artificial sweeteners.
Sugar alcohols, which you find in artificial sweeteners, aren't digested well in the gut, which can cause diarrhea and other digestive symptoms, like bloating, gas, and diarrhea, Sauceda says.
Once again, the fun, fizzy bubbles in seltzer may be to blame for your bloating.
The same goes for spiked seltzer, which can cause even more stress on your stomach. On top of the bloat-inducing bubbles, alcohol can trigger inflammation in your gut, which can lead to bloating or gas, Sauceda says.
What's more, alcohol can alter the composition and function of intestinal microbiota, per a 2017 study in Alcohol Research: Current Reviews. This is especially problematic since the bacteria in your belly play an important role in your overall gut health.
Sauceda also points out that some people are sensitive to the other ingredients in alcoholic drinks (for example, the corn in vodka), which can create an even more tumultuous situation for your tummy.
Milk does a body good, but for some, it can wreak gastrointestinal havoc. Dairy products cause gas and bloating in people with lactose intolerance, Sauceda says. That's because these people can't properly digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy foods.
In fact, it's estimated that as much as 65 percent of people are lactose intolerant after infancy, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
And even if milk never messed up your stomach before, you might notice a change as you get older because we can lose our ability to digest lactose with age, Sauceda says.
4. Protein Shakes
If protein shakes turn your tummy into a pufferfish, you might be reacting to the whey, a byproduct of milk commonly used to make protein powder, Sauceda says. So, if you're lactose intolerant, pick plant-based, dairy-free protein products instead.
Another culprit of gas, cramps, and bloat could be the sugar substitutes in your shake. Indeed, sugar alcohols — which are often used to sweeten protein powders — are tied to diarrhea, excessive gas and bloating, according to an October 2016 review in the Journal of International Dentistry.
While coffee isn't a gastrointestinal irritant for everyone, "some people are sensitive to caffeine, and as a result, they might notice some digestive issues like gas or even running to the bathroom (aka coffee poops)," Sauceda says.
Turns out, your degree of caffeine sensitivity is linked to your genetic makeup, according to a June 2018 report in the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee. So, if your cup of joe bloats your belly, you can blame your DNA.
6. Bubble Tea
Bubble tea, also known as boba milk tea, is fun to drink thanks to the versatile flavors, bright colors and addition of tapioca pearls. But, the "boba" that makes it such an enjoyable beverage may be what's upsetting your stomach.
"Boba pearls usually contain starch made from tapioca with water and sugar creating a gummy consistency," explains Pittsburgh-based registered dietitian Jess DeGore, RD, LDN. "High-fructose corn syrup can be used as a sweetener in some boba teas, and this can lead to diarrhea and flatulence in those with a low absorption capacity for fructose."
Tapioca pearls also have a lot of starch without the fiber that regular tapioca has. Gas gets produced in your large intestine when starches are broken down, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).
7. Fruit Juice
Commercial fruit juice isn't usually made from real fruit. It's usually a cocktail of water, fruit concentrate, sugar and added flavors. While you may think you're getting a serving or two of fruit, you may actually be getting a serving of gas and bloating.
"Much fruit juice sold in stores is flavored with sugar additives, like sorbitol," DeGore says. "Sugar alcohols remain mostly undigested before reaching the large intestine. When they arrive there, the bacteria will start to break them down, causing excess gas."
Sorbitol is another ingredient on the list of foods likely to cause gas, according to the IFFGD. It's naturally found in some fruits, such as apples and pears, but it's also used as a sweetener in various foods and sugar-free candies.
There's scientific reasoning behind the phrase "beer belly."
"Alcohol is an inflammatory and will cause swelling and irritation in the stomach, producing more stomach acid, which can lead to bloating," DeGore says.
DeGore says beer is an especially big offender because of the fermentation and carbonation processes involved in it. The grains often used to make beer — wheat and barley — are also hard to digest, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Drinking With a Straw
To really avoid gas and swelling, you may want to veer away from drinking any beverage through a straw.
“When you suck from a straw, you are taking in some air, which can settle in your gut, making you feel gassy or bloated,” Sauceda says. And sucking down your drink too fast — and gulping in more air — will make your belly swell even more.
- Alcohol Research: Current Reviews: “Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation.”
- Coffee & Health: "Genetics, Metabolism and Individual Responses to Caffeine."
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Lactose intolerance.”
- International Journal of Dentistry: "Gastrointestinal Disturbances Associated with the Consumption of Sugar Alcohols with Special Consideration of Xylitol: Scientific Review and Instructions for Dentists and Other Health-Care Professionals."
- American Academy of Pediatrics: "Beware the Bubble Tea: Examining the Dangers of Bubble Tea Consumption for Kids"
- Cleveland Clinic: “15 Foods That Can Cause Bloating”
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: Foods That Are Likely to Cause Gas