Although you might not associate cherries with an upset stomach, it's possible that this tasty fruit is causing more harm than good. For some people, cherries cause gas, bloating and other digestive problems — possibly due to an underlying digestive condition.
Along with many other types of fruits and vegetables, cherries can be a nutritious addition to your diet. However, if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or another digestive concern, your condition may be worsened by eating cherries, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
If you find that cherries cause gas, bloating, stomach pain or other stomach problems, you may need to avoid cherries. An upset stomach and regular bloating can also be caused by other foods or conditions, however, so be sure to check with your doctor to find the root cause.
Cherries and the Digestive System
In some individuals, digestion may be negatively affected by cherries. Upset stomach, bloating and gas can result from eating not only cherries, but other types of foods included on the list of foods that are fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols — aka FODMAPs.
FODMAP foods are fermentable, short-chain carbohydrates, explains Harvard Health Publishing. The FODMAPs you might find in your daily diet include:
- Oligosaccharides: Fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides, including chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, soy products, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, beetroot, garlic, onions and grains such as wheat and rye.
- Disaccharides: Lactose-containing foods like cow's milk, yogurt, pudding, custard, ice cream, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese and mascarpone.
- Monosaccharides: Fructose-containing foods like cherries, apples, pears, peaches and watermelon.
- Polyols: Sorbitol- and mannitol-containing foods like cherries, apples, apricots, blackberries and nectarines, as well as vegetables like cauliflower, mushrooms and snow peas.
Harvard Health Publishing suggests eating less of these foods if you have IBS, a gastrointestinal disorder affecting one out of 10 people in the United States annually. Symptoms of IBS include cramping, diarrhea, gas and bloating.
A September 2017 meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients examined the effects of restricting FODMAPs, which are poorly absorbed and rapidly fermented by gut bacteria. A low-FODMAP diet can have a favorable impact on IBS symptoms, especially bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea, according to Nutrients.
FODMAP Pros and Cons
At the same time, the Nutrients research acknowledges that it's unclear whether a low-FODMAP diet is superior to traditional IBS diet recommendations. Typical dietary advice for IBS patients includes eating regularly scheduled meals, reducing fiber intake and avoiding certain trigger foods.
Common IBS triggers are dairy products, wheat, fructose, fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine and gas-producing foods like beans, cabbage and onions, says Nutrients.
In addition, long-term FODMAP restriction means avoiding many nutrient-foods that can have beneficial effects on overall health.
For example, cherries are a rich source of polyphenols and vitamin C, offering antioxidant benefits and protecting against inflammation, according to another Nutrients study published in March 2018.
According to the study, muscle-induced soreness, blood pressure, cholesterol, sleep and arthritis are all potentially aided by cherries. Digestive system issues aside, there are generally numerous benefits to eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
USDA ChooseMyPlate says eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and certain cancers. It can also help with weight management or weight loss.
Read more: 5 Health Benefits of Eating Cherries
Other Causes of Bloating
Note, too, that it's possible your bloating is caused by something other than IBS. Celiac disease, ovarian cancer and other, more serious conditions may be to blame, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Bloating is commonly caused not only by IBS, but also by gastrointestinal reflux disease, lactose intolerance, overeating, constipation, weight gain and small bowel bacterial overgrowth, says the National Library of Medicine.
While a low-FODMAP diet may help treat any gastrointestinal concerns, you may also wish to avoid other types of triggers, like chewing gum and carbonated drinks. In addition, chew slowly and avoid smoking, adds the National Library of Medicine.
If you suspect that cherries cause gas, bloating or other gastrointestinal problems, you may be sensitive to cherries and might do well to avoid them. Work with your health provider to choose the foods that best serve your health needs — whether that means eliminating cherries as part of a low-FODMAP diet or taking a more traditional approach to IBS symptoms.
Read more: The 10 Worst Foods for Bloating
Is This an Emergency?
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Try a FODMAPs Diet to Manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome"
- Nutrients: "Low-FODMAP Diet Improves Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms: A Meta-Analysis"
- Nutrients: "A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Abdominal Bloating"
- USDA ChooseMyPlate: "Why Is It Important to Eat Vegetables?"