Everyone experiences bloating from time to time.
It's that sensation when your tummy feels too full and large. It may be accompanied by pain or discomfort as well as excessive rumbling noises. Most embarrassingly, you may be bothered by gassiness.
There are many causes of bloating for women, and many factors that could play a role, one of which is the food you eat. Many people notice that they tend to feel bloated after having a meal that includes rice.
However, evidence suggests that rice is not necessarily the culprit. Let's examine rice, its relationship to bloating and how you can tailor your everyday diet to experience this sensation less frequently.
Quick Rundown of FODMAPs in Relation to Bloating
Have you been introduced to the concept of FODMAPs? FODMAP is simply an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Foods that are high in FODMAPs are linked to excessive levels of gas and liquids in both the large and small intestines. After eating high FODMAP foods, people are more likely to experience symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea.
Why do high FODMAP foods cause these symptoms? It is mainly due to the fact that these foods are known to ferment in the large intestines. It is this fermentation that is lurking behind gas and bloating as well as some of the major symptoms of IBS.
According to research, the more high FODMAP foods are consumed, the more pronounced and irritating the effects become.
Thus, eating a single high FODMAP food at a meal will cause fewer and milder symptoms. Consuming a variety of high FODMAP foods in one sitting will cause greater discomfort.
Conversely, the more low FODMAP foods you consume, the less likely you are to experience bloating and its related signs.
Examples of high FODMAP foods include apples, plums, barley, wheat, dairy foods that contain lactose, lentils, kidney beans, baked beans, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, honey, artichokes, onions, celery, garlic, peas and mushrooms.
Low FODMAP foods include banana, strawberry, papaya, sugar, maple syrup, butter, almond milk, mozzarella, brie, bell peppers, carrots, corn, tomatoes, brown rice, white rice, quinoa, almonds, pecans, seeds, beef, chicken, eggs and fish.
These are extremely abbreviated lists of the foods that are found within each category. However, notice that brown rice and white rice appear in the list of low FODMAP foods. This is one of the reasons why it is probably unlikely that your bloating is caused by the consumption of rice.
Instead, it is likely that some of the foods that you are eating with rice are responsible for these symptoms. Onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms, peas and a variety of beans or dairy products may be accompanying your favorite rice dishes. Rather than the rice causing discomfort, it is probably one or more of these other ingredients.
Of course, people have varying levels of sensitivity to low and high FODMAP foods. This means that it may be necessary to look further to discover what's behind the bloating that occurs after you eat rice.
What is a sensible portion size for a serving of rice? In America, it has long been standard practice to super-size serving portions for all foods, including rice.
Research conducted by the NIH suggests that restaurants in America have doubled or tripled portion sizes over the last two decades.
What began in restaurants has flourished in homes as well. It is not at all unusual for people to regularly consume portions of food that are well outside of recommended guidelines.
When people eat too much of any food, whether it is healthy or unhealthy food, chances are good that they will experience feelings of bloating, discomfort, pain, gas, diarrhea and constipation. Unfortunately, people do not just overindulge at the holidays or on an occasional basis. Many people are consuming out-of-control portion sizes every day and at each meal.
This can be as true in the consumption of rice as it is in hamburgers and pizza. Nutritionists and dietitians recommend consuming a serving of rice that is approximately equal in size to your closed fist. Think about the last time you ate a plate or bowl full of rice.
Was it about the same size as your fist or was it the equivalent of two, three or more of your fists?
In the U.S., people have long since grown acclimated to seeing and eating massive portions of food. The next time you sit down to a meal that involves rice, try to limit your intake to a fist-sized portion. Aim for a portion of protein that is the same size as your palm, and dish up fruits and veggies that would fit within two cupped hands.
Better control over portion sizes may minimize the amount and frequency of bloating that you experience.
Chemicals in Food
Nutritionists and dietitians may recommend that clients try the FAILSAFE, otherwise known as the RPAH, diet as a means of controlling and eliminating the symptoms of bloating. FAILSAFE is an acronym for Free of Additives and Low in Salicylates, Amines and Flavor Enhancers while RPAH stands for Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the name of a hospital in Australia where this diet was tested and developed.
When nutritionists recommend the FAILSAFE diet to clients, they are trying to determine whether or not certain food chemicals may be causing bloating and other digestive problems. Initially, major sources of food chemicals are eliminated from the client's diet to see if this improves their symptoms. It generally is necessary to add these food chemicals back into the client's diet one by one to try to pinpoint precisely what was causing the intestinal distress.
Two of the most common chemicals in food that are responsible for bloating include salicylates and amines. Salicylates are found in foods such as mint, olives, eggplant, tomato, onion, chilies, spices, herbs and avocados.
Amines are a group of compounds, one of which is histamine. When amines reach toxic levels within the body, people can experience adverse reactions. Sources of amines include alcohol, cheese, certain fish, seaweed, spinach, tomato, broadbeans, mushrooms and olives.
If you regularly consume rice mixed with any of these foods, chances are good that your bloating is connected to these other foods instead of the rice itself. Through working with a nutritionist, you may be able to isolate and identify which food groups are causing your discomfort.
Fiber is an essential component of any daily diet, but too much of it can be a bad thing. Guidelines suggest that men should be consuming between 30 and 38 grams of fiber every day while women should ingest between 21 and 25 grams.
If you have been trying to increase your fiber intake, this could be what's causing your sensations of bloating. Eating too little fiber is a chronic problem for most adults, and the health benefits of consuming an adequate amount of fiber are well known. This means that you probably are wise to increase your fiber intake, but it is critical that you do so gradually.
How do you know if you might be consuming too much fiber? Some of the most common signs are pain in the abdomen, mineral deficiencies, changes in bowel movements and bloating and gas.
Remember that fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot fully process. When you suddenly increase your fiber consumption, your body is not prepared to deal with it. This will make your symptoms increase too.
This is why it is crucial for people to gradually add more fiber into their diets. Adding between two and three grams per day is ideal for most people. That might be the equivalent of one serving of fruits and vegetables or whole grains. You can also incorporate one of our best fiber supplements for women to reach your fiber intake goals.
Of course, even that increase is too much for people who are especially sensitive to fiber. You may want to add fiber even more slowly if you continue to experience symptoms.
Additionally, many people who increase their fiber intake make the mistake of not also increasing how much water they are drinking. If you are making an intentional effort to increase how much fiber you're consuming, be certain that you also are drinking more water.
This leads to the question of whether or not the fiber in rice is what's causing your gas and bloating. Chances are good that it is not. White rice does not have any fiber. While brown rice does have fiber, there is only about three-and-a-half grams of fiber in each serving. This means that brown rice is not considered a high fiber food.
Which foods are considered high fiber? These include berries, beans, popcorn, apples, whole grains, broccoli, potatoes, nuts and dried fruits among others. If you consume large amounts of these foods, chances are good that they may be responsible for bloating.
Here’s One Reason Why Rice Might Be Causing Bloating (Resistant Starch)
In most instances, rice is not responsible for causing issues with gas and bloating. However, that may not be the case for individuals who are particularly sensitive to resistant starch.
Resistant starch can be a healthy and beneficial part of anyone's diet. Some foods, such as rice, are made up of two kinds of starches. One of these is digestible while the other cannot be changed into sugar and quickly absorbed by the bloodstream.
Called resistant starch, this substance entirely bypasses the small intestine and proceeds to the colon where it is fermented into short chains of fatty acids. Gut bacteria rely on these fatty acids to stay healthy and thriving. The higher the amount of resistant starch in a food, the fewer calories will be absorbed by the body. Foods that are high in resistant starch content include unripe bananas, uncooked potatoes, whole grains, beans and legumes.
In particular, resistant starch is prevalent in any rice that has been cooked and cooled before being eaten. Even if you reheat the rice before consuming it, it will retain its higher concentration of resistant starch.
People who are highly sensitive to resistant starch or who suddenly increase their intake may experience bloating.
It is unlikely that white rice will cause bloating. In addition to being a low FODMAP food, white rice has no measurable portion of fiber.
However, people frequently eat white rice as part of dishes that contain high FODMAP foods or a great deal of fiber. Experiencing bloating after such a meal may be caused by these other foods.
It also is wise to keep portion size in mind. Especially in the U.S., people have grown accustomed to eating enormous portions of food. When eating white rice, try to keep your portion to a size that is equivalent with the size of your fist.
Unlike white rice, brown rice does have fiber. A single serving has approximately three-and-a-half grams of fiber.
Still, brown rice isn't a high fiber food. Unless you're eating huge portions of brown rice at every meal, it probably isn't causing bloating.
You may be eating brown rice with high fiber foods like broccoli, beans, carrots, beets, Brussels sprouts, lentils, chickpeas and sweet potatoes. These are more prone to causing bloating than brown rice is.
It also is a possibility that you are highly sensitive to resistant starch. You may want to increase your intake of foods containing resistant starch gradually to avoid bloating.
Available in white and brown varieties, basmati rice is similar to ordinary brown and white rice and is unlikely to cause bloating on its own.
It's rare for rice to cause gas unless an individual is extremely sensitive to resistant starches. People who experience gas after consuming rice probably are reacting to other ingredients in the meal. Any high FODMAP foods or high fiber foods are more likely to create bloating than rice is.
Nonetheless, overindulging in any food can cause discomfort. Keep the guideline of a fist-sized portion in mind the next time you dish up food.
Many clients come to their nutritionist reporting bloating after eating rice. While it's possible to experience a negative reaction from consuming rice, it's more common to discover that these people really have a sensitivity to a certain food chemical or are consuming too many high FODMAP foods. People who rapidly increase their intake of high fiber foods may report similar symptoms.
When you work with a nutritionist, you'll be put on a low FODMAP diet to see if this alleviates your symptoms. From there, it may be necessary to isolate certain food chemicals to see if they are the culprit. Some experimentation is needed, but with the guidance of a nutritionist, it's possible to diagnose the cause of chronic bloating.
Conclusion: Rice Usually is NOT the Cause of Bloating
Although you may think this is the case, rice is likely not the culprit of you feeling bloated. The good news is that if rice is your favorite carbohydrate, you probably don't have to abandon it. The bloating that occurs after consuming rice probably is caused by other foods. Work with a nutritionist to isolate the cause of your intestinal discomfort.
Still Feel Bloated?
Try our dietitian's 1-week anti-bloat diet plan that will help you de-bloat. To help things go even faster, try one of our recommended and best supplements to relieve bloating. Just know that supplements alone most likely won't do the trick, but with a new diet and a high quality supplement, it will definitely help!