Most people have experienced at least one debilitating stomach ache at some point in their life — but some people happen to experience stomach aches more often than others. It sucks, but thankfully, there are some ways people prone to getting frequent stomach aches can help lessen their frequency. One of those ways: Avoiding certain foods that can cause stomach problems.
It might seem a little drastic, but if you're one of these people who constantly experiences tummy troubles and aren't sure why, this could be a good step to consider. At the very least, you could just try to eat them in moderation, only once in a while. After all, the most common causes of abdominal pain include indigestion, food allergies, and food intolerance, so the link between what we consume and how your stomach feels is pretty clear.
"A constant stomach ache can be caused by a number of different factors, including stress and an unhealthy lifestyle," nutritionist Ashvini Mashru, MA, RD, LDN explains to Bustle. "It can also be a sign of medical condition, and in that case it is necessary to visit with a medical doctor. Identifying the cause of regular stomach pain can be achieved by eliminating various possibilities."
As is the case with most health issues, a diet high in processed foods can definitely exacerbate stomach problems, but there are a variety of other, unsuspecting foods that can cause your stomach to turn. If you're someone who frequently experiences stomach aches, consider avoiding these foods from your diet — or at least consuming them less frequently — to see if they make an impact on how you feel.
"Most beans contain sugars called alpha-galactosidase, which belong to a group of carbs called FODMAPs," Mashru tells Bustle. "For healthy people, FODMAPs simply provide fuel for the beneficial digestive bacteria and should not cause any problems. However, for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, another type of gas is formed during the fermentation process. This may cause major discomfort, with symptoms like bloating, flatulence, cramping and diarrhea."
Stanford Health Care echoed this sentiment on its site. "The low FODMAP diet restricts high FODMAP foods to reduce uncomfortable symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and cramping that may occur if you are sensitive to FODMAPs."
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
Although vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are filled with essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, they commonly cause gas and bloating due to their high-fiber content and presence of FODMAPs. According to nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin in an interview with HuffPost Australia, cooking the veggies might help counteract any stomach ache issues: "Avoid excessive raw vegetables and opt for lightly steamed. Or cook vegetables well or make into a soup for better digestion."
"Spices have the tendency to lead to acidity, and they could also lead to stomach inflammation if consumed in excessive amounts," Mashru tells Bustle. "Moreover, spices can worsen the presence of ulcers, even if they are not the direct cause of ulcers."
However, not all spices are bad for the body: Cinnamon, for instance, can help control several body conditions, including digestion. Avoid spicy foods such as hot sauce or peppers, which can cause irritation to the stomach lining.
You may be surprised to know that at least 65 percent of the population is lactose intolerant, which means they have a reduced ability to digest lactose, aka the sugar found in milk. "If you’re lactose intolerant, dairy can cause major digestive problems," Mashru says. "Symptoms include bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhea."
5. Sugar Alcohols
"Sugar alcohols are used to replace sugar in sugar-free foods and chewing gums," says Mashru. "Common types include xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol. They tend to cause digestive problems, since they reach the large intestine unchanged where the gut bacteria feed on them."
"Garlic contains fructans, which are FODMAPs that can cause bloating," says Mashru. "Allergy or intolerance to other compounds found in garlic is also fairly common, with symptoms such as bloating, belching and gas." However, similar to the cruciferous vegetables mentioned above, cooking the garlic may reduce these effects.
Coffee is highly acidic, which can irritate the lining of the stomach and cause abdominal pain. The caffeine in coffee can also cause your stomach to produce excess stomach acid, which can cause cramping of the abdominal muscles.
Having stomach aches is one of the most uncomfortable ailments there is, so if you suffer consistently, consider changing your diet to tackle the problem.
This article was originally published on December 18, 2015 and was updated on July 2, 2019.
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