If you are always bloated after eating carbs there are likely several reasons why but the first step to reduce bloating is to identify and reduce the carbs that cause bloating. The reason people are bloating from carbs is due to excess fermentation of sugar, fiber and fodmaps found in carbohydrates by bacteria in the gut.
Foods that are likely to cause bloating are high fiber foods, high fodmap foods, and processed carbohydrates. Carbohydrates contain fiber and fodmaps, which is why many people experience stomach pain and bloating after eating carbs.
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Many high fiber foods cannot be digested by the human body and are food for gut bacteria in the colon. Too much bacteria in the wrong place can cause upper abdominal bloating, as in with SIBO. Stomach pain and bloating after eating carbs are symptoms associated with IBS and SIBO,
The higher a food is in fiber or fodmaps; the more likely someone will experience bloating if they have bacterial overgrowth in the gut and carbohydrate malabsorption.
If you consistently experience bloating after eating carbs, then SIBO and carbohydrate malabsorption are likely causing the uncomfortable bloated stomach.
If you notice severe bloating after eating carbs such as wheat, beans, legumes, high fodmap foods, whole grains, and resistant starches found in potatoes and bananas, then you may need to implement the low fodmap diet for IBS.
The best way to stop bloating after eating carbs is by reducing high fermentable foods that cause bloating, by chewing your food thoroughly, and by utilizing a digestive enzyme to help with the breakdown of carbohydrates, fiber, and starches.
Bloating after eating carbs is a symptom of carbohydrate malabsorption due to a lack of digestive enzymes or beneficial probiotic bacteria in the colon.
Carbohydrates are broken down by:
- the enzyme amylase in the saliva
- by the enzymes secreted by the pancreas
- by brush border enzymes that line the villi of the small intestine
- fiber which is in carbohydrates, is broken down by beneficial bacteria in the colon
Do carbs make you bloated? This is why you get bloated after eating carbs
If someone does not chew their food, secrete enough digestive enzymes, has a damaged intestinal lining, bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, and a lack of beneficial bacteria in the colon, carbohydrate malabsorption can occur.
When carbohydrates are not broken down and absorbed, the undigested carbohydrates and fiber are fermented by bacteria found in the small and large intestine.
As a by-product of fermenting upon undigested carbohydrates and fiber, the bacteria produce gas. The gas produced by bacteria fermenting upon undigested carbohydrates leads to feeling bloated after eating carbs.
Fiber and high fermentable foods are not necessarily “bad foods” as these foods act as a prebiotic for the healthy gut flora in the colon. But when there is an excess of too much-undigested fiber and carbohydrates, our gut bacteria can get out balance, and bacterial overgrowth can occur in the small intestine, as in the case with SIBO.
When an overgrowth of bacteria occurs in the small intestine, feeling bloated after eating becomes a daily occurrence.
How to reduce bloating after eating carbs
To reduce bloating associated with SIBO, fermentable foods that cause bloating are removed from the diet for some time to allow for a reduction of gut bacterial overgrowth. By limiting their food source, bacteria that have overgrown in the small intestine reduces. Bloating after eating carbs is one of the most common symptoms of SIBO.
The first step to reduce bloating after eating carbs is to implement phase 1 of the SIBO diet. You can also try the low fodmap diet. Both of these diets reduce the amount of highly fermentable carbohydrates that cause bloating.
Keep in mind that these are therapeutic diets used to reduce bloating and bacterial overgrowth. These diets are not for the long term. It is crucial to address the root cause of bloating, such as SIBO or not enough beneficial bacteria in the colon to break down the fibers in carbohydrates.
Getting to the root cause as to why SIBO developed by supporting the acidity of the stomach, promoting bile flow, and supporting with digestive enzymes is crucial to prevent bloating and optimize digestive function.
After addressing the root cause of SIBO and implementing the low fodmap diet, you will be able to reintroduce and enjoy some of these high fermentable foods in moderation without having to experience bloating after eating carbs.
When reintroducing fermentable carbohydrates back into the diet, the key is to go low and slow. But initially, removing foods that are highly fermentable by our gut bacteria will be necessary to stop excessive bloating.
Beneficial bacteria that live in the large intestine contain enzymes that the human body cannot produce. These enzymes produced by gut bacteria break down carbohydrates. If someone lacks a diverse plant-based diet and has a history of taking antibiotics, many of the beneficial bacteria in the colon may be extinct.
Slowly introducing various plant-based foods is crucial for rebuilding a healthy microbiome in the colon. There are many benefits of fiber for gut health. The key is to add fiber back into your diet slowly to prevent excessive bloating after carbs.
Foods that cause bloating and gas are high fodmap foods and high fiber foods that cannot be digested by the human body and are food for gut bacteria.
High fodmap foods cause bloating as they are rapidly fermented upon by gut bacteria. This rapid fermentation can lead to severe bloating after eating high fodmap foods.
The higher a food is in fiber, the more likely someone will experience bloating if they have bacterial overgrowth or dysbiosis in the gut.
Some high fermentable foods and carbs that cause bloating include:
- dried apricots
- dried dates
- dried prunes
- sweet potato
- brown rice
- Thai rice noodles
- mung bean noodles
- gluten-free pasta
- udon noodles
- bran flakes
If you notice that some of these carbs cause you to bloat, you can try implementing the low fodmap diet or SIBO diet. These diets specifically reduce the fermentable carbohydrates that cause bloating when fermented upon by bacteria.
Foods that do not cause bloating are animal protein and fats. These foods are devoid of fiber. When there is no fiber for bacteria to ferment upon, gas is not produced. A decrease in the production of gas leads to decreased bloating.
Eating plant-based carbohydrates is still crucial for a healthy gut, but it is best to lower the amount of high fermentable foods consumed when bloating after carbs are present.
Some low fermentable foods to reduce bloating include:
- non-starchy vegetables
- leafy greens
- Jasmine rice
- red meat
- healthy fats such as cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and avocado
Animal protein and fats do not contain fermentable carbohydrates that cause bloating after eating. It is also important to include vegetables and fruit in the diet. Eating low fodmap fruits and low fodmap vegetables are the best carbs to eat to initially reduce bloating and gas.
I encourage you to use these lists to create a safe food list with foods that do not cause you to feel bloated. Also, make a list of foods that you notice cause bloating for you. Instead of strictly adhering to very restrictive diets, use them to help you identify the carbs that cause you to bloat.
What are your trigger foods, and what carbs cause you the most bloating? What foods can you eat without experiencing bloating?
One of the questions I always ask in my initial consults is:
How do you tolerate fiber, high fodmap foods, or fermentable foods such as beans, legumes, onion, garlic, dried fruits, or resistant starches such as potato and bananas?
Supplements to reduce bloating
Chewing your food very well and supplementing with digestive enzymes when eating difficult-to-digest carbohydrates can be very beneficial and help to relieve bloating and gas after eating.
Pro-digestion Intensive contains enzymes that help break down various sugars, starches, and fibers that can cause bloating after eating carbs.
Taking a probiotic such as Probiota HistaminX can be helpful with antibiotic use or insufficient beneficial bacteria in the colon to break down plant fibers.
If upper abdominal bloating and SIBO is present, look into the probiotic L Reuteri for SIBO.