Garlic may confer a host of health benefits and certainly adds some flavor to your favorite dishes, but — and this a big but — garlic makes you burp, and that can be embarrassing. Let's explore how to stop burping garlic and get some strategies.
Why Garlic Causes Burping
It's a pretty common occurrence, and there are many reasons for burping after eating garlic. "Garlic, especially overcooked, tends to irritate the stomach lining for many people, and burping is a stomach-related gas that happens when you swallow too much air, eat something that disrupts the stomach or you have anxiety," explains Tarek Hassanein, MD, director of the Southern California GI & Liver Centers in Coronado, California. It may be embarrassing if it's loud and in public, but "burping is a relief for the stomach as it decreases gastric distention," he says.
In fact, most people pass between a pint and a half-gallon of gas each day, according to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).
That's not the only reason that garlic repeats on you. This herb also has a lot of essential oil activity, says Robin Foroutan, RDN, at the Morrison Center in New York City and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Garlic and its essential oil have such potent antimicrobial activity that it can kick out and kill bacteria in the gut," she says, "And when this happens all at once, the balance of gut bacteria is disrupted and we might get a little bit gassy."
Read more: How to Stop Excessive Burping
Garlic is high in fructan, a type of carbohydrate (belonging to a group of carbs called oligosaccharides) that is not broken down well by your gut. Fructans, which are really just chains of the simple sugar fructose, are a type of FODMAP, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. High-FODMAP foods can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut if your body is not able to properly digest certain carbohydrates, Foroutan says.
It could be a case of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a condition that occurs when there's an excess of bacteria in your small intestine, which leads to bloating and gas, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Garlic is also a common trigger for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms, which occur when stomach acid flows back up after it has been digested, the Mayo Clinic notes. Over time, this acid can damage the lining of your esophagus. If garlic is a GERD trigger for you, avoid it whenever you can.
Garlic and Burping: Strategies
The good news is that burping after eating garlic is typically not a cause for concern, especially since garlic may have anticancer properties and may also lower blood cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
"Everyone burps and farts, so, there is no definition of a problem," says Dr. Hassanein. "If, however, these issues begin to interfere with your overall life, you should go see your gastroenterologist."
There are also ways to still enjoy garlic — minus the gas. Foroutan suggests a little trial and error to see how much garlic is too much for you. She says to "cut back on garlic and then see if you tolerate smaller amounts of garlic better."
Read more: How to Beat Belly Bloat for Good
"Try not to overcook it," Dr. Hassanein advises. "Some reports say chopping the garlic and letting it sit for about a half-hour before cooking can help with digestion. If you are very sensitive to garlic, try infusing it into olive oil, remove the garlic and cook with the oil. You will get all the flavor without the problems."
"If you get a lot of gas and bloating, especially severe bloating and distention about two hours after a meal or get progressively bloated throughout the day, it could be SIBO," Foroutan says. If that's happening, she suggests that you "try a low-FODMAP meal plan to see if it reduces the bloating," noting that this may relieve symptoms. However, you should talk this over with your doctor, in case treatment is needed to correct any bacteria overgrowth.
But, notes Dr. Hassanein, a balanced diet is the key to gut and overall health. "Gastroenterologists strongly believe in moderation," he says. "If you eat too much of anything you may find yourself with these issues."
Is This an Emergency?
- Tarek Hassanein, MD, FACP, FACG, AGAF, FAASLD, director, Southern California GI & Liver Centers, Coronado, California
- American Gastroenterological Association: "Gas"
- Robin Foroutan, MS, RDN, registered dietician, Morrison Center, New York City, and spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Garlic"