Gas and bloating are facts of life. No one is exempt from them, so if you stumbled upon this post after googling your digestive symptoms, you're not alone. In fact, our search insights tell us that a lot of people want to know why sometimes their stomach feels like a big gas bubble.
We've talked about the food culprits as well as how certain foods can help promote a flatter belly. But did you know some of our favorite drinks can cause an influx of gas and water bloat, too? Since many of them can be found in other drinks or seem like unlikely aggressors entirely, we thought we'd bring these sneaky sips to light.
We turned to three health experts—Lexi Aiassa, Linda Antinoro, and Kylene Bogden—to find out why some of our favorite drinks have a bad rep with our gut. Keep scrolling to learn more about the 9 drinks experts say are responsible for bloat.
Meet the Expert
- Lexi Aiassa is a certified nutritionist and founder of The Confidence Co, a digestive wellness brand.
- Linda Antinoro is a registered dietitian with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
- Kylene Bogden, RDN, is the Wellness Advisor for Love Wellness, a women's wellness and personal care brand.
We apologize, as this news isn't going to be received well by many: Coffee can be a major cause of bloat. It encourages colon movement, and it stimulates gastric acid secretion, potentially leading to indigestion and reflux. Additionally, the famous cup of joe is known for causing stress hormones to go into overdrive.
"Our body already produces cortisol naturally when you wake up in the morning, so if you are an avid coffee drinker, have a glass of water first thing (bonus points if you add lemon) and wait an hour prior to your morning caffeine fix. Allowing your body to wake up naturally will help you balance your hormones," Aiassa says.
Coffee may also intensify symptoms of bowel conditions like gastritis, irritable bowel disorder, colitis, and Crohn's disease. If you've been feeling stomach pain after your morning cup of java, Aiassa recommends trying herbal tea, matcha, or lemon water, which she says tastes best at room temperature.
Bogden recommends decaffeinated tea with cinnamon, caramel, or orange clove flavors as great alternatives to coffee—minus the bloat!
Lactose intolerance happens when people are deficient in lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the sugar in milk. So when lactose (the sugar in milk) travels through your digestive system without being broken down, it pulls water from your gut, which causes gas, bloating, and painful discomfort.
"The more lactose there is in certain types of milk, the harder it can be for those who are lactose intolerant to digest. If you are sensitive to lactose, supplementing with a digestive enzyme is essential to avoid indigestion and upset stomach. It gives you the sufficient lactase enzymes you need to digest the lactose," explains Aiassa.
If you aren't lactose intolerant, the issue might be casein, a protein found in milk that has also been linked to an intolerance causing gas and bloating.
As someone who's lactose intolerant, I've come to depend on dairy alternatives. I haven't missed milk, especially since a lot of milk alternatives are rich and creamy and taste better to me than regular cow's milk. The reason so many of them are creamy, though, is because of an additive called carrageenan, a seaweed extract. "Carrageenan is FDA-approved, but there's a suggestion that it can aggravate intestinal problems, so you may want to avoid this if it upsets your stomach," says Antinoro.
3. Apple Juice
Apples contain a naturally occurring but widely undigestible sugar called sorbitol, which has been linked to diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Some apple juices may also be artificially sweetened with chemical sorbitol, which the intestine still has trouble absorbing.
Additionally, apples are high in fiber, which when pressed or concentrated, may cause problems. "[It] can cause a loose stool for some individuals whereas others may not notice a difference whatsoever in bowel habits," notes Bogden.
4. Savory Drinks
Salt in general is a big culprit of bloating. It causes your body to retain water as a way to try and dilute the excess salt in your body, so sipping on a salty drink (like a Bloody Mary) will lead to unnecessary water retention. To always play it safe, Aiassa advises to stay away from drinks that are saturated with salt, such as soda. "Too much sodium may result in high blood pressure, which can turn into a host of other issues, such as poor heart health, kidney disease, and strokes," she says.
5. Carbonated Drinks
According to Go With Your Gut author and nutritional eating coach Robyn Youkilis, any carbonated drink (yes, even sparkling water) can cause bloating. The fizzing bubbles in carbonated drinks are actually gas, which can get trapped in your stomach and make you feel like you've been pumped with helium. But it's not just sparkling beverages—even drinking too much plain-old water can lead to bloating because it dilutes the digestive juices in your gut, Youkilis tells Well+Good.
6. Diet Drinks
Aiassa says the word "diet" that is attributed to diet drinks is a misnomer and may cause more harm than good. "Diet sodas may not have 'calories' but they do contain artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners can cause water retention (also known as bloating) and upset stomach," she explains. Artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, and cyclamate have been linked to digestive issues, and they may even increase appetite, which could lead to more stomach issues.
Excessive alcohol consumption causes a breakdown in the natural protective lining of the stomach and leads to gastritis, an inflammation of this lining. "Drinking alcohol signals to your body to create more stomach acid. Too much stomach acid is inflammatory to your gut lining, meaning it causes swelling of the body," Aiassa says. Plus, if you're combining liquor with carbonated soda (especially diet soda), you've got a lot of factors counting against your stomach.
8. Sugary Drinks
Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in our gut, so when we consume overtly sweet drinks, we risk increased inflammation, decreased immune function, and other metabolic disorders. If you're in need of a sweet fix, Aiassa advises not to drink anything that knowingly has added sugar. "Choose natural/raw [sugar] every time," she says. Sneaky "healthy" drinks like juices can sometimes be loaded with sugar, so be sure to check your nutrition labels.
9. Anything With a Straw
Any drink can turn into a cause of bloat if you use a straw. Doing so means you're sucking air into your stomach that you wouldn't if you just sipped from the top of the cup. Plus, straws are a huge pollutant ruining our ecosystems, so if nothing else, you're helping the environment by skipping the straw.
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