Does Sugar Cause Bloating?

  Reviewed
 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

does sugar cause bloating

We all know bloating and gas cause a lot of discomfort and embarrassment. There are so many foods in our day-to-day life that could possibly be the culprit. You might have heard about beans, carbonated drinks, or lentils among the common foods that cause bloating.

But what about sugar? If you have ever asked yourself, does sugar cause bloating? Then the answer could very well be yes!

Sugar could absolutely be the reason where your painful farts are coming from. Lactose, fructose, raffinose, and sorbitol are types of sugars that can cause bloating. This is because regular sugar and its numerous variants are full of carbohydrates.

Sometimes underlying gastric imbalances from SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or other conditions could also contribute to sugar indigestion and bloating.

What Factors Contribute To Bloating?

Bloating is caused when our GI (gastrointestinal tract) is filled with gas or air. Food can be a primary cause of this bloating. There are some foods that produce more gas in comparison to others.

Eating such foods, problems with dairy (such as lactose intolerance), or menstruation in women are some of the common causes of bloating.

Other factors that contribute to gas or bloating could be:

  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Gastroesophageal acid reflux (GERD) 
  • Swallowing air (while smoking, chewing gum, or eating fast)

Other more serious factors could include:

  • Infection
  • Liver disease
  • Inflammation
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Blockage in the bladder or bowel
  • Cancer (stomach, uterine, pancreatic, colon, or ovarian cancer)

How Can Sugar Make You Feel Bloated?

Bloating and gas development occurs in the large intestine, especially the colon. Our large intestine is home to an array of good bacteria that break down the food we eat.

macaroons

When we eat or drink certain foods that aren’t fully digested such as fiber, starches, or sugar. This undigested food sits in the large intestine where the bacteria feast on it, this process is called fermenting. As a result of this process, gases such as hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide are produced as a byproduct of the bacteria.

Production of gas is part of the process and is completely normal. However, if excess gas is produced that causes bloating, then that may be a sign of needing to make some dietary changes.

Excess bloating is an indicator that your digestive system isn’t able to digest certain foods. One of the major contributors to bloating generally is carbohydrate-rich food. Interestingly, the sugar that we’re discussing here is full of carbohydrates.

This also answers your question, why does sugar upset my stomach? If you have ever wondered, which we’re sure you did. Well, that’s why you’re here.

Sugars That Cause Bloating

As per the International Foundation of Gastrointestinal Disorders, almost all foods that are rich in carbohydrates cause gas. Sugar being all carbohydrates, the same carbohydrates that our digestive system isn’t able to digest properly, can cause gas and bloat.

Sugars that cause gas are:

Fructose

Fructose is the main sugar found in fruits. Fructose is also half of our table sugar and is added to a lot of processed foods. Other sweeteners like honey, corn syrup, and agave also contain fructose.

Besides this, fructose is also naturally found in other foods such as apples, grapes, watermelons, pears, wheat, onions, and artichokes. Fruit juices and soft drinks also have fructose as a sweetener.

Consuming too much fructose isn’t considered good for health besides being a possible cause of bloating. If the indigestion of fructose is the cause of your bloating, then you should eliminate fructose-rich food sources from your diet.

You can go for fruits low in fructose such as green bananas, blueberries, strawberries, avocados, etc.

Lactose

Lactose is rich in dairy-based products such as milk, cheese, ice cream, etc. The natural sugar in milk is lactose.

eating ice cream in a cone

Some people have low levels of lactase enzyme, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, this condition is called lactose intolerance. This is the reason why they couldn’t digest milk or milk-based products.

If you have ever questioned, why does ice cream make me fart? Then lactose could be the possible culprit.

In case, you experience bloating after eating foods containing lactose, then it makes sense to consider lactose-free options. Some alternatives for lactose-based milk could be soya milk, cashew milk, rise-based milk, hazelnut milk, oat milk, and hemp milk.

Raffinose

If you have experienced bloating after eating beans then raffinose is the sugar that should be blamed. Raffinose is the form of complex sugar that is often found in vegetables such as peas, broccoli, celery, radishes, cabbage, carrots, brussels sprouts, asparagus, etc. Whole grains also contain raffinose content.

Sorbitol

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in fruits like peaches, prunes, pears, apples, apricots, avocados, lychees, plums, cherries, blackberries, etc.

Sorbitol is also among the artificial sweeteners used in some gums, sugar-free candies, and diabetic foods.

In addition to this, other forms of sugar found in our foods and drinks are below. Eating any of these different varieties can cause bloating:

  • Cane sugar
  • Peral sugar
  • Caster sugar
  • Sanding sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Light brown sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar

How Does Bloating Affect You?

Bloating isn’t a serious concern most of the time, and goes on its own shortly. However, the discomfort and embarrassment that comes with gas and bloating is undeniable.

man holding his glass of milk and his tummy

Sometimes it can come with other unpleasant symptoms such as frequent burping, stomach ache, discomfort, farting, belching, gurgling, and abdominal rumbling. All this can highly discomfort anyone as well as sometimes can interrupt their routine.

Generally, people often opt for over-the-counter medication like omeprazole or others to treat bloating without understanding the root cause.

Here is does omeprazole help with gas?

However, if bloating is accompanied by other serious symptoms as mentioned below then shouldn’t be ignored and addressed ASAP.

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Blood in stool
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Excessive weight loss

What To Do If You Have Bloating From Sugar?

If you think your bloating is caused due to sugar then the first thing you should consider is to identify which sugar is the cause of the problem. This could generally be done by getting on to an elimination diet.

Firstly, take notes on which types of foods cause your bloating and other related symptoms after consumption. This will help you figure out which sugar form your body isn’t able to digest properly.

It might not be as easy to identify the root cause. In that case, you can also seek professional help. Talk to your general physician, dietician, or nutritionist to help you identify the sugar that your system isn’t agreeing with. They will also provide you with the right treatment plan to get rid of bloating and other issues.

In case, sugar isn’t the culprit behind your bloating, your doctor may conduct tests to identify the root cause of your bloating. There is a possibility that other gastrointestinal issues might be causing your gas and bloating. Therefore, seeking advice from a professional makes sense.

Foods That Cause Bloating

Common foods that cause bloating include:

  1. Rye
  2. Beer
  3. Pears
  4. Beans
  5. Garlic
  6. Wheat
  7. Lentils
  8. Barley
  9. Apples
  10. Onions
  11. Fatty foods
  12. Sugar alcohols
  13. Dairy products
  14. Artificial sweeteners
  15. Carbonated beverages
  16. High-FODMAP fruits
  17. Cruciferous vegetable
  18. Foods containing gluten
Dairy products

Frequently Asked Questions About Sugar And Bloating

Is Sugar Hard To Digest?

Yes, sugar is hard to digest by the body. Fibers, starches, and sugar are said to come under the category of foods that can’t reach full digestion.

When we eat sugars such as fructose, lactose, sorbitol, etc. then their undigested particles sit in the large intestine. Here these undigested food particles are consumed by the bacteria, this process is named fermenting.

Here in the large intestine, this sugar moves more slowly which is like a feast for bad bacteria and yeast. As a result of this process, gas is produced as a by-product by the bacteria in the form of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, or methane. This is what causes bloating and gas after eating sugar and sugar-based foods.

Sugar in general is referred to as a gut irritant. But it’s important here to note that there are different varieties or forms of sugar. Thus, each sugar could impact digestion in a different way.

Depending upon how one’s body digest sugar and other factors such as gastrointestinal tract disease, some sugars can cause more bloating in some people than others.

Why Do I Get Bloated When I Don’t Eat?

It’s said that bloating often isn’t caused by not eating, there is always some other underlying cause. If you’re feeling bloated even without eating, then there is a possibility then you might be doing something wrong.

For example- drinking coffee on an empty stomach might very well be the cause of your bloating. Besides this, dehydration, eating too late at night, drinking too many carbonated beverages, swallowing too much air, an undiagnosed condition as well as certain medications could also be the cause behind bloating.

Conclusion

Now that you know sugar could be the possible cause behind your uncomfortable bloating and other related symptoms. You can make the required dietary changes by limiting the intake of trouble-making sugar to get rid of bloating.

Moreover, there are erythritol sugar products on the market that claim to provide sweetness similar to sugar without increasing calorie intake. However, whether or not these low-calorie sweeteners contribute to gas and bloating is a topic for another blog.

Till then, checkout out our Gut Health Formula, because a healthy gut is a sure-shot solution to all digestive issues including bloating.

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