Garlic is a gift that keeps on giving. Although the vegetable boasts a wealth of benefits for your health, a garlicky meal can haunt you in the hours and days afterward in the form of smelly burps. If you love garlic but hate the burps, you need to determine what's causing your reaction. If you suffer from garlic intolerance, you may be able to moderate the problem.
A certain amount of belching is normal. It helps release air from the stomach that you swallow when eating and drinking. Certain foods and drinks, such as colas and fruit juices, beans, prunes, potatoes, milk, broccoli, cauliflower and onions, are more likely to cause belching than others. Excessive belching may also occur if you swallow too much air, drink from a straw, chew gum or eat too quickly. Your burping reaction to garlic could be because you ate one of the offending foods at the same time or because you ate your meal too quickly, swallowing excess air.
A common cause of frequent burping is heartburn or acid reflux disease. Most people will occasionally experience heartburn, the burning sensation in the chest when food or stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. If you suffer from heartburn often, you may have acid reflux disease. Some foods, called trigger foods, can bring on heartburn by increasing stomach acid production or by relaxing the band of muscle that prevents stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. These include fatty foods, spicy foods, citrus fruits, onions, milk, chocolate and garlic.
Garlic Allergy or Intolerance
An allergy or intolerance to garlic isn't common, but it can happen. In either case, you may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating and gas -- which can cause burping -- after eating garlic. With an allergy, you may have other symptoms, such as an itchy rash and nasal congestion. If you frequently experience belching after eating garlic and also have other symptoms related to allergy or intolerance, visit your doctor. A food allergy can be life-threatening.
If you have an allergy, the only option is to give up garlic; if an intolerance is to blame, you may be able to continue to eat garlic in small amounts. Eating raw garlic may worsen your reaction in the case of an intolerance or heartburn. In that case, you may be able to prevent garlicky burps by avoiding garlic or cooking your garlic before eating it. When eating a meal with garlic, avoid adding too much to the dish, and be sure to eat slowly to avoid swallowing excess air. Garlic and garlic powder are ingredients in many prepackaged foods, such as soups, sauces and frozen meals, so check labels.
Is This an Emergency?
- MedlinePlus: Belching
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gas in the Digestive Tract
- Go Ask Alice!: Burping a Lot, and I Want to Stop
- MedlinePlus: Heartburn
- HealthBeat: 12 Tips for Taming Heartburn — Naturally
- HemoCode System: Garlic Intolerance
- FARE: About Food Allergies
- MedlinePlus: Garlic