Last Updated 04/08/2023

Want to identify Nigerian foods that cause bloating?

Luckily, I have compiled the complete list of the top offenders that can lead to bloating and gas for some people.

Let's get to the list right away...

Nigerian Foods That Can Cause Bloating

Nigerian Foods That Can Cause Bloating

Here are 13 of the most common foods that can easily cause bloating you can find in Nigeria:

1. Beans

Beans are a dietary staple in Nigeria. However, their high fiber content makes them notorious gas-producers.

  • Beans contain lots of oligosaccharides, a carbohydrate that can cause bloating and gas (1).
  • Soaking, sprouting, and cooking beans well can help reduce these effects (2).
  • Limiting portion sizes of beans may also help.

"Beans are a type of legume high in protein, carbs, and fiber. But they also contain sugars called oligosaccharides that can cause gas and bloating."

2. Carbonated Drinks

Fizzy drinks like soda, tonic water, and certain juices contain dissolved carbon dioxide gas.

  • This CO2 gas gets released in the stomach and can lead to belching, bloating, and discomfort (3).
  • Try limiting carbonated beverage intake to 8 oz per day.

3. Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic give many Nigerian dishes their iconic flavor. However, they contain fructans (4), a compound that can be hard to digest.

  • Cooking onions and garlic can reduce digestibility issues.
  • Limiting intake may also help those sensitive to fructans.

For people with irritable bowel syndrome, excess gas is formed during the fermentation process of fructans. This may cause major discomfort, with symptoms like bloating, flatulence, cramping, and diarrhea.

4. Dairy Products

Milk, local cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are common ingredients in Nigerian cuisine.

  • However, up to 65% of adults worldwide are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack sufficient lactase enzymes to properly digest dairy (5).
  • Bloating, cramps, and diarrhea are common symptoms of lactose intolerance.
  • Opt for lactose-free dairy or non-dairy alternatives like almond milk.

5. Fatty Meats

Traditional dishes like suya, asun, nkwobi, and pepper soup often feature fatty cuts of meat.

  • Fatty foods take longer to digest, allowing more time for gas production.
  • Cooking meats in lots of palm oil or other fats can also delay digestion.
  • Limiting portion sizes of fatty meats can help.

By understanding which ingredients affect you and moderating intake, you can still enjoy delicious Nigerian cuisine without unwanted bloating. Pay attention to how different foods make you feel.

6. Cruciferous Vegetables

Vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, contain FODMAPs.

  • FODMAPs can trigger bloating, gas, and discomfort when fermented in the gut (6). 
  • Try cooking cruciferous veggies instead of eating them raw - this makes them easier to digest.
  • Alternatives like spinach, and cucumbers are less likely to cause bloating.

7. Wheat

Wheat contains gluten  (7), which causes issues for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity(8).

  • It also contains FODMAPs that can lead to bloating (9).
  • Try swapping wheat for gluten-free grains like oats, brown rice, and so on

"For people with gluten sensitivity, wheat causes serious digestive problems, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain," 

8. Barley

Like wheat, barley contains gluten and is high in fiber (10).

  • The fiber content can be hard to digest, producing excess gas.
  • Look for refined barley products, or replace barley with lower-fiber grains.

9. Apples

Apples are high in fructose and fiber.

  • These compounds ferment in the gut, potentially causing bloating and gas (11).
  • Try cooking apples to make them easier to digest. Limit portion sizes as well.

"Apples have also been known to cause bloating and other digestive issues for some people," says nutritionist Laura Czerwony.

10. Beer

Carbonated alcoholic drinks like beer are double trouble when it comes to bloating.

  • The carbonation leads to gas buildup.
  • The grains used in brewing contain fermentable carbs(1213).
  • Limiting intake is best to avoid bloating.

Paying attention to ingredients that affect you personally and moderating your intake can allow you to enjoy these foods without discomfort. Cooking, portion control, and substitution can go a long way towards preventing a bloated belly.

11. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose are added to many food products and drinks to provide sweetness without calories or carbohydrates.

  • However, the body struggles to properly digest these synthetic chemical sweeteners.
  • This can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some people.

Your body responds best to food that is natural. If something is artificially made, your body has more trouble processing it.

  • Try using natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar instead.
  • For people with diabetes, stevia is a good natural, plant-based alternative to artificial sweeteners.

12. Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol are often used as sugar substitutes in sugar-free foods.

  • They are considered FODMAPs, which means they can ferment in the gut and cause gas and bloating(14).
  • Erythritol is one sugar alcohol that is easier on digestion than the others.

13. Unfamiliar Fruits

When trying fruits you don't normally eat, it's best to introduce them slowly.

  • Your digestion isn't accustomed to breaking down the sugars and fibers in new fruits.
  • Eating lots of unfamiliar fruit at once can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
  • Try small portions of new fruits at first, and avoid sudden large amounts.

Paying attention to ingredients and how your body reacts can help identify sweeteners, fruits, and other foods that may contribute to uncomfortable bloating.

What Causes Bloating?

Bloating is caused by undigested food that sits in your stomach or intestines for too long. As the undigested food starts to ferment, it produces gas that can build up and cause a stretched, uncomfortable feeling in your belly.

Some common causes of undigested food and gas buildup include:

  • Eating too fast - When you eat quickly, you swallow larger pieces of food that are harder to break down. Taking your time to chew thoroughly allows your stomach acids and enzymes to work more efficiently.
  • Eating too much - Overloading your stomach can overwhelm your digestive system.
  • Eating fatty foods - High-fat foods like fried food, butter, and fatty meats take longer to digest.
  • Eating fibrous foods - While fiber is healthy, some high-fiber foods produce gas as they pass through your system.
  • Lactose intolerance - Trouble digesting lactose sugars in dairy products is a common cause of bloating.
  • Food sensitivities - Some people have trouble digesting certain foods like wheat, onions, beans, etc.

Tips to Avoid Bloating

Luckily, there are some simple tips you can follow to help your body digest food efficiently and avoid that bloated, gassy feeling:

  • Chew your food thoroughly - Breaking food down mechanically through chewing helps your stomach acids work better.
  • Eat slowly - Taking time to enjoy your meals prevents overeating and allows digestion to start in your mouth.
  • Stay hydrated - Drinking enough fluids helps food move smoothly through your system.
  • Limit portions - Don't overload your stomach by going back for seconds and thirds.
  • Limit fatty foods - High-fat meats, fried food, and fatty sauces are hard to digest.
  • Introduce new foods gradually - Sudden changes in diet can shock your system. Go slow.
  • Get moving - Light exercise after eating stimulates digestion and helps gas pass.
Foods to Enjoy in Moderation
Foods That May Cause Bloating
Lean proteins
Cooked veggies
Carbonated beverages
Fresh fruit
Raw Onions
Whole grains

By making simple changes to how and what you eat, you can keep your digestive system running smoothly and avoid that bloated belly.

When to Seek Treatment for Bloating

Experiencing occasional bloating after eating certain foods is normal. But if bloating becomes an ongoing problem, it may be time to seek medical treatment.

Keep a food and symptom diary - Tracking what you eat and how it affects you can help identify problem foods.

  • Record all foods and beverages consumed each day
  • Note any symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, etc.
  • Look for patterns between specific foods and symptoms

"If you suspect your belly bloat is related to diet, you can track what you eat using a food and symptom diary to pinpoint which foods are problematic for you," advises Dr. Linda Chang.

See a doctor if:

  • Bloating is frequent or severe
  • It interferes with daily activities
  • It occurs with pain, diarrhea, or other concerning symptoms
  • It worsens or fails to improve with dietary changes

Tests may include:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Stool test
  • Hydrogen breath test for lactose intolerance
  • Endoscopy

Treatments Available:

  • Dietary Changes: Avoiding problematic foods can provide relief. A doctor or dietitian can help craft an elimination diet.
  • Medications: Antibiotics, probiotics, antispasmodics, and other medications can treat underlying issues.
  • Alternative Therapies: Hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and gut-directed meditation can help reduce symptoms.
  • Surgery: Severe intestinal obstruction may require surgical intervention.

Tips for Living with Bloating

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Limit salt, carbonated, fatty, and gas-producing foods
  • Explore enzyme supplements to improve digestion
  • Try OTC remedies like simethicone
  • Reduce stress through yoga, meditation, therapy
  • Wear loose clothing to feel more comfortable

Conclusion on Nigerian Foods That Cause Bloating

While bloating can be frustrating, doctors can help identify causes and find the right treatment options to provide relief. Pay attention to your symptoms and don't hesitate to seek medical advice if bloating persists.

While bloating can be a nuisance, there are many ways to prevent and manage it through diet and lifestyle changes.

The key is being aware of foods that tend to cause bloating and gas for you personally. These often include:

  • Beans, onions, cruciferous vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Fruits high in fructose
  • Fatty fried foods
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Artificial sweeteners

"If you frequently experience gastrointestinal issues like gas or bloating after eating, it may be time to consider making changes to your diet," advises registered dietitian Kelly Hogan.

Tips to avoid bloating:

  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
  • Limit portion sizes
  • Try cooking gas-producing foods
  • Introduce new foods gradually
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Get light exercise after eating

When to see a doctor:

  • If symptoms persist despite diet changes
  • Bloating is frequent or severe
  • Pain, diarrhea, or other concerning symptoms develop

By understanding your personal bloat triggers and making thoughtful dietary choices, you can stay nourished while avoiding discomfort. Pay attention to how different foods affect you. With some simple precautions, you can enjoy meals without belly bloat and pain.

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