This post was first published on November 13, 2015.
If you experience gas after eating, it is usually due to consuming fiber-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. However, if it only occurs after eating cultured dairy foods such as yogurt, kefir or liquid probiotic supplements, according to MayoClinic.com, you could have a food intolerance. Food intolerance to cultured dairy products occurs when your body can’t process the lactose they contain, resulting in excessive gas and bloating.
While yogurt and other cultured dairy foods contain less lactose than milk, they can still trigger lactose issues for people who are severely intolerant. If drinking milk causes the same symptoms, you likely have a lactose intolerance, but if you want to be sure, get tested. If it turns out that you are lactose intolerant, you can try making your own yogurt at home. By allowing it to ferment longer than commercially prepared products, the live bacteria will reduce the amount of lactose in the yogurt.
While lactose on its own can be a source of gas, there are other ingredients in yogurt, kefir and other probiotic foods that can also contribute to gas and the feeling of being bloated. Some of those added ingredients include:
Thickeners — Most commercially produced yogurts available in grocery stores contain thickeners like carrageenan, gelatin and guar gum. These thickeners are not tolerated well by some people. Check food labels carefully and try a product free of thickeners to determine if they are responsible for the gas and bloating.
Sweeteners — Many people unknowingly suffer from fructose malabsorption, which can be responsible for bloating and gassiness. This condition can also lead to abdominal pain and a change in your stools. Honey, high-fructose corn and agave syrups are also known to cause fructose malabsorption symptoms. Look for alternative products which contain cane sugar, dextrose, glucose or maple syrup. .
Fruit — Kefirs, probiotic drinks and yogurts which contain fruit with high fructose levels can also trigger digestive problems and bloating. Common culprits include cherries, apples, pears and mangoes. Try other products featuring fruits containing less fructose, such as bananas, berries and peaches.
If you’re looking for a non-dairy yogurt, you may be tempted to try a grain- or nut-based yogurt. Not so fast! First, it’s important to think of why you’re making the substitution. Dairy products are often high in carbs, so it’s reasonable to think that non-dairy yogurt would be a great alternative. You should know that many of non-dairy cultured products are highly processed and contain lots of sugar.
As dietitian Tamara Duker Freuman says: “Unless a plant-based milk is completely unsweetened, all products contain added sugar, even those products labeled “original” flavor. Typically, an unsweetened almond or coconut milk contains a mere 30 to 40 calories with less than 1 gram of carbohydrate and zero grams of sugar (though an unsweetened rice milk has about 90 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate owing the to the rice-derived base.) … But once you cross into the original and vanilla flavors, calories and sugar content skyrocket – and that’s not even considering the chocolate varieties, which are far worse. … A leading brand of organic soy yogurt contains between 5 to 7 teaspoons (21 to 27 grams) of added sugar per teensy 6-ounce container (!), though other brands’ products clock in closer to 4 to 4.5 teaspoons (16 to 19 grams).” Note: the World Health Organization recommends that adults limit daily sugar intake to 6 teaspoons (25 grams). If you’re watching your weight, the daily allowance may be lower.
Duker-Freeman goes on to explain that the additives used to create the thick, creamy “mouth-feel” consumers expect can also cause problems. One common thickener, inulin, “is highly fermentable (gas producing) by gut bacteria.” Watch for inulin by its other name, chicory root. Other problematic ingredients include sugar alcohols. Breaking Muscle.com lists several of these common gas-producers:
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