Hey there! Have you ever noticed that delicious Mexican food like tacos, burritos, or nachos leaves your stomach bloated and gassy later on? You’re definitely not alone.
Mexican food has a bit of a reputation for causing gas and bloating in many people.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the reasons why Mexican cuisine often leads to excessive farting and flatulence. We’ll also give you some great tips for how to prevent or reduce the gas caused by your favorite Mexican dishes!
High Fiber Content in Common Mexican Ingredients
One of the biggest reasons Mexican food causes gas is that many staple ingredients contain lots of fiber. Fiber is great for your health, but it can be tough on your digestive system. Here are some prime fiber-filled suspects:
- Beans: Pinto, black, and refried beans are used in all kinds of Mexican entrees like tacos, burritos, nachos, soups, and more. Beans are packed with raffinose, a complex sugar that our small intestine has trouble breaking down fully. This means it heads to the large intestine where it ferments, causing gas production. No bueno!
- Corn: Corn tortillas and masa (cornmeal dough) form the basis of so many Mexican staples. The insoluble fiber in corn is also difficult to digest for many people, leading to unwanted gas bubbles.
- Onions and garlic: These aromatic veggies are used in all sorts of Mexican cooking. But onions and garlic have high amounts of fructans, a carb that induces bloating.
- Jalapeños and chilies: The spicy kick of peppers comes from compounds like capsaicin that can irritate the digestive tract. This leads to more gas and bloating.
Tips to Reduce Fiber-Related Gas
- Choose corn tortillas over flour, which has more gut-irritating gluten.
- Limit portion sizes of beans or try enzyme supplements to help digest them.
- Opt for fresh onions and garlic instead of powdered versions, which are higher in fructans.
- Remove seeds and membranes from peppers which contain the most irritating compounds.
Spicy Ingredients That Upset Your Stomach
It’s not just the fiber in Mexican cuisine that causes issues. Many of the spicy ingredients contain compounds that can directly irritate your stomach:
- Capsaicin in hot peppers inflames the delicate lining of the stomach. Too much can really cause indigestion.
- Chilies and hot sauce make your stomach produce more acid, which can contribute to heartburn.
- Pepper skins can be abrasive and hard to break down, again aggravating your gut.
Any irritation of your gastrointestinal tract leads to more trapped gas, bloating, and belly aches. If you already suffer from digestive issues like IBS or GERD, spicy Mexican food may exacerbate your symptoms.
Tips for Dealing with Spicy Foods
- Avoid extremely hot salsas and chilies at first to see if it helps. You can slowly build up tolerance.
- Choose milder fresh peppers like poblanos and Anaheims over jalapeños or habaneros.
- Opt for vinegars, citrus juice, garlic, cumin for flavor over just heat and chilies.
- Drink milk or have some yogurt or ice cream for dessert to soothe your stomach.
Bacterial Fermentation and Gas Production
Here’s a look at what actually happens in your gut to produce all that Mexican food gas:
- Bacteria and yeasts in your large intestine feast on undigested carbs and fiber, producing hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide gas as waste.
- The high fiber beans, veggies, and grains in Mexican dishes feed these microbes a huge all-you-can-eat buffet!
- Onions, garlic, and chilies contain compounds that actually increase bacterial gas production.
- Swallowing extra air while eating can add oxygen these bacteria turn into more gas.
- The end result is you feeling gassy, bloated, and ready to clear the room if you catch my drift!
Tips to Calm Bacterial Fermentation
- Take probiotics to promote healthy gut flora and reduce gas-causing bacteria.
- Use digestive enzyme supplements to break down the carbs that bacteria feed on.
- Stay well hydrated to keep food digesting and moving smoothly through your colon.
- Avoid drinking through a straw, talking while eating, or eating too fast – all increase air swallowing.
Your Personal Food Intolerances
We all have unique digestive systems, so some people may have sensitivities or intolerances that make Mexican cuisine a real gas-fest:
- Lactose intolerance means all that cheese, crema, and sour cream could spell tummy trouble.
- Gluten sensitivity makes wheat tortillas and flour-thickened sauces cause bloating.
- Allergies or sensitivities to corn, soy, certain spices, or common additives like MSG.
- Onion/garlic intolerance – the FODMAPs in these veggies are notorious triggers.
- Too much caffeine from cola drinks on top of a Mexican meal.
- Artificial sweeteners like sorbitol commonly used in salsas and sauces can have a laxative effect.
- Histamine issues agitated by beans, cheese, avocados, tomatoes, etc.
Tips If You Have Food Intolerances
- Try corn tortillas if you have gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy.
- Choose cheese-free options if lactose intolerant.
- Avoid common trigger foods like garlic, onions, or beans based on your sensitivities.
- Check labels for sweeteners, MSG, sulfites if you have allergies or react to additives.
- Stick to fresh, additive-free ingredients as much as possible.
How to Make Mexican Food Less Gassy
Here are some great tips for enjoying Mexican cuisine without the unwanted side effects:
- Avoid carbonated drinks – all those bubbles get trapped as gas!
- Limit portions – overeating makes digestion harder and leads to gas.
- Eat slower – rushing your meals causes you swallow more air.
- Add some fiber – a little extra rice, veggies, or fruit can keep food moving smoothly.
- Drink water – staying hydrated helps digestion and prevents constipation.
- Use probiotics – consuming fermented foods like yogurt or kefir balances gut bacteria.
- Exercise lightly after eating – gentle walking helps your body digest.
- Avoid problem foods – eliminate ingredients you are sensitive to like dairy, onions, beans, etc.
Choosing Low-Gas Mexican Dishes
You can make smart menu picks to avoid a night of discomfort and flatulence:
- Grilled fish, chicken, or steak tacos
- Fajitas with milder green or red salsa
- Carnitas or shredded chicken in corn tortillas
- Carne asada without heavy sauce
- Cilantro lime rice or cauliflower rice instead of beans
- Grilled veggies like zucchini, peppers, mushrooms
- Small portion of black or pinto beans
- Water with lime instead of carbonated soft drinks
- Iced tea, horchata, or agua fresca without caffeine
- Light Mexican beer like Corona or Modelo
- Fresh fruit like mango, pineapple, or melon
- Low-fat Mexican yogurt or kefir
- Frozen fruit popsicles made from real fruit
I hope these tips help you keep enjoying delicious Mexican food without all the unwanted gas! Let me know if you have any other great suggestions for reducing gas from Mexican dishes. Now go dig into those tacos and nachos!