Are you a fan of canned tuna but find yourself feeling bloated and gassy after eating it?
You’re not alone. While tuna is a healthy and convenient protein source, it can also cause some uncomfortable side effects.
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why canned tuna can give you gas and what you can do to prevent it. From sodium intake to fiber content, we’ll break down the science behind this common issue and provide some helpful tips for enjoying your tuna without the unwanted side effects.
So, let’s dive in and find out why canned tuna might be causing you to feel bloated and gassy.
Why Does Canned Tuna Give Me Gas?
One of the main reasons why canned tuna can cause gas is due to its high sodium content. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, a can of tuna contains about a quarter of your daily sodium intake on average. While sodium is essential for regulating body fluids, consuming too much can lead to bloating and water retention.
Another factor that contributes to gas and bloating is the fiber content in tuna. Tuna is high in fiber, which can cause problems with gas and flatulence, especially in those who are already prone to gastrointestinal issues. Other foods that can cause similar problems include apricots, asparagus, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, soybeans, raisins, and more.
It’s important to note that not everyone will experience gas and bloating after eating canned tuna. The amount and type of bacteria in each person’s large intestine can play a role in how their body reacts to certain foods.
The Science Behind Gas And Bloating
Gas and bloating are common digestive issues that can be caused by a variety of factors. In the case of canned tuna, the high fiber content can be a contributing factor. Fiber is an essential nutrient that helps regulate digestion and bowel movements, but it can also lead to gas and bloating when consumed in excess.
Another factor that contributes to gas and bloating is the presence of certain types of bacteria in the large intestine. These bacteria break down undigested food particles and produce gas as a byproduct. Some people may have more of these bacteria in their gut than others, which can make them more prone to gas and bloating after eating certain foods.
In addition to fiber and gut bacteria, another factor that can contribute to gas and bloating is the presence of certain sugars in foods. For example, lactose intolerance occurs when the body is unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. This can lead to symptoms such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
To diagnose digestive issues such as gas and bloating, doctors may use tests such as the lactulose or glucose breath test. These tests measure the amount of gas produced by bacteria in the gut after consuming a specific substance. While these tests can be helpful in diagnosing certain conditions such as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), they may not always provide accurate results due to variations in normal bowel flora.
Sodium Content In Canned Tuna
When it comes to sodium content in canned tuna, it’s important to pay attention to the type and preparation of the tuna. Like other canned foods, canned meats are higher in sodium than their fresh counterparts. In a recent analysis, canned tuna averaged 247 mg of sodium per 3-ounce (85-gram) serving, or 10% of the recommended daily intake (RDI). This represents a 27% decrease in sodium content compared to several decades ago.
However, some canned meats, such as cured corned beef and pork, can be significantly saltier, with 794-1,393 mg of sodium per 3-ounce serving, or 29-51% of the RDI. It’s important to check the label for sodium content before purchasing canned meats.
For those looking to reduce their sodium intake, some tuna manufacturers prepare canned tuna without adding any extra salt for preservation – look for a variety labeled “no salt added.” Three ounces of this type of tuna cut your salt intake down to around 100 milligrams of sodium or 250 milligrams of salt.
It’s also worth noting that the sodium content can vary depending on how the tuna is canned. Regular water-canned tuna has 210 milligrams of sodium per 3-ounce serving, while tuna canned in oil has nearly 340 milligrams of sodium per 3 ounces. Light tuna canned in oil with salt contains 300 mg of sodium and light tuna canned in water with salt contains 287 mg of sodium per 3 ounces. Regular white tuna canned in oil with salt contains the highest amount of sodium with 336 mg per 3 ounces and regular white tuna canned in water with salt contains 320 mg of sodium.
Mercury Levels In Tuna And Its Effects On Digestion
Aside from the potential for gas and bloating, canned tuna can also have negative health effects due to its mercury content. Mercury is a highly toxic metal that can cause severe health problems if consumed in high amounts. When we eat tuna, we ingest the mercury along with it. Mercury poisoning can cause vision impairment, loss of emotional stability, anxiety, memory problems, depression, and irritability.
The amount of mercury in tuna varies based on the species of tuna. Some types contain six times as much mercury as others. This is due to the process of bioaccumulation, which occurs when smaller fish consume mercury-contaminated plankton and are then eaten by larger fish. The larger fish continue to accumulate mercury in their bodies over time.
A study conducted on raw, cooked, and canned tuna found that while selenium bioaccessibility was high in all forms of tuna, mercury levels were high in raw and cooked tuna. However, the bioaccessibility percentage of mercury was low in cooked and canned tuna, indicating that less mercury is absorbed by the body when these forms of tuna are consumed.
It’s important to note that pregnant and nursing women should be especially cautious about consuming too much tuna due to the potential for mercury poisoning. A probabilistic assessment of MeHg risk vs Se benefit showed that while a weekly meal of canned tuna presents very low risk, raw, boiled, and grilled tuna consumption should not exceed a monthly meal for pregnant and nursing women.
Fiber And Digestive Health: How It Affects Your Tuna Consumption
Fiber is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining digestive system health. When it comes to tuna consumption, fiber is particularly important because it helps regulate bowel movements, preventing both diarrhea and constipation. Additionally, fiber may help prevent diverticulitis, a condition marked by inflamed pouches on the colon.
While tuna fish itself does not contain fiber, consuming a tuna sandwich or eating fiber-rich side dishes with tuna steaks can provide the necessary fiber for digestive health. However, it’s important to note that some individuals may find tuna difficult to digest due to its protein content. Tuna leaves you feeling more “full” due to the satiety effects of protein, but the amino acids created during protein breakdown can be difficult for the body to digest and lead to constipation.
It’s also worth noting that canned tuna packed in oil tends to be higher in calories and fat than canned tuna packed in water. Canned tuna packed in water may be higher in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is particularly important for brain and eye health. Additionally, both fresh and canned tuna are good sources of several essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, selenium, and iodine.
Tips For Reducing Gas And Bloating When Eating Canned Tuna
If you enjoy eating canned tuna but struggle with gas and bloating, there are some tips you can follow to reduce these symptoms:
1. Choose water-packed tuna: Water-packed tuna contains less sodium and fat than oil-packed tuna, making it a healthier choice overall. This can help reduce the amount of sodium in your diet and prevent water retention.
2. Eat smaller portions: Limiting your portion sizes can help prevent overeating and reduce the amount of fiber you consume at once. This can help prevent gas and bloating.
3. Pair with low-fiber foods: Pairing canned tuna with low-fiber foods like white rice or cooked vegetables can help balance out your meal and prevent excessive fiber intake.
4. Cook the tuna: Cooking canned tuna can help break down some of the fiber and make it easier to digest. Try adding canned tuna to soups or stews for a comforting and nutritious meal.
5. Take digestive enzymes: Digestive enzymes can help break down complex carbohydrates and fiber in the gut, reducing the amount of gas produced during digestion. Consider taking a digestive enzyme supplement before eating canned tuna or other high-fiber foods.
By following these tips, you can enjoy the health benefits of canned tuna without experiencing uncomfortable gas and bloating. Remember to listen to your body and adjust your diet as needed to find what works best for you.