Are you curious about the potential side effects of cassava flour?
While this starchy root vegetable is a popular gluten-free substitute, some people have reported experiencing bloating, abdominal pain, and gas after consuming cassava flour.
In this article, we’ll explore whether or not cassava flour can give you gas and what factors may contribute to digestive discomfort.
So, if you’re a fan of cassava flour or considering incorporating it into your diet, keep reading to learn more!
Does Cassava Flour Give You Gas?
The short answer is that cassava flour itself does not give you gas. However, overeating high-starchy foods like cassava, sweet potatoes, and yams can cause belly bloating.
It’s important to note that a lack of good bacteria in the stomach can also cause abdominal gas. This is often seen in individuals whose intestinal flora has been destroyed by antibiotic usage.
Additionally, cassava flour is a natural prebiotic fiber that is associated with constipation, bloating, and gas in some people, particularly if they have bacterial overgrowth or an unhealthy amount of bad bacteria in their gut. Since gut bacteria thrive and feast upon fiber, those with dysbiosis or SIBO may be more impacted by cassava flour.
Furthermore, cassava flour is not cooked prior to eating like roasted vegetables, making it more difficult to digest. This can lead to constipation, bloating, and gas.
What Is Cassava Flour?
Cassava flour is a gluten-free flour made from the tuber cassava, which is native to South America and grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions. The flour has a light or neutral taste and a fine or smooth texture, and is predominantly white in color, although it may have a light red or yellow hue depending on the cassava variety.
The process of making cassava flour involves peeling the tubers, soaking them in water for 4-6 days, sun-drying or roasting them, scraping off the outer layer, and grinding the remainder into flour. Cassava flour is a highly versatile ingredient with numerous uses in the food industry, including in baked goods, tortillas, porridge, pancakes, and gluten-free pasta and pizza.
Manufacturers also sometimes use it as a thickener for ice cream, sauces, and dressings. Its low moisture content gives cassava flour a long shelf life as long as it’s stored away from moisture.
While cassava flour itself does not give you gas, overeating high-starchy foods like cassava can cause bloating. It’s important to consume cassava flour in moderation and to be aware that it may impact those with bacterial overgrowth or an unhealthy amount of bad bacteria in their gut.
Nutritional Value Of Cassava Flour
Cassava flour is a carbohydrate-rich food that contains virtually no fat or protein. It is a great substitute for wheat and other flours, especially for those on a gluten-free diet. However, it’s important to note that cassava flour should not be relied upon as a sole source of nutrition as it lacks essential amino acids and healthy fats.
A cup of cassava flour (285 grams) contains about 110 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of sugar. It is also rich in vitamin C, with one cup containing close to the recommended daily value. Cassava flour is also high in resistant starch, which is not absorbed in the small intestine but is fermented in the large intestine. This can help feed good bacteria and reduce inflammation, but may also contribute to bloating and gas in some individuals.
Compared to other gluten-free flours like almond or coconut flour, cassava flour has a lower calorie density and higher water content. It also contains more fiber, which can help reduce cravings for carbs and keep you feeling satisfied for longer periods of time. Cassava flour is a sustainable crop that requires low energy to produce with high crop yields per plant.
How Does Cassava Flour Affect Digestion?
Cassava flour is a great source of dietary fiber, containing 2 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup. Fiber is essential for maintaining gut health and adding bulk to stools, making digestion easier. It also helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, which can keep you fuller for longer.
Cassava flour contains resistant starch, a carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the colon. Resistant starch serves as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in the gut and promoting microbial growth. This can help counteract gut dysbiosis, an altered microbiota that has been associated with diseases such as obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, and colorectal cancer.
However, individuals with dysbiosis or SIBO may be more impacted by cassava flour due to the increased feeding of gut bacteria. Cassava flour is not cooked prior to eating like roasted vegetables, making it more difficult to digest. This can lead to constipation, bloating, and gas.
In addition, cassava contains cyanogenic glycosides which can be toxic if not properly prepared. Sweet cassava roots have less than 50 milligrams (mg) per kilogram of hydrogen cyanide on a fresh weight basis, and the bitter types have up to 400 mg per kilogram. It is important to reduce cyanide content in cassava by cutting the roots into small pieces, soaking them in water, and then boiling, roasting, sun-drying, fermenting or grating them. Processed cassava-based products such as tapioca flour have very low cyanide content.
Factors That Contribute To Gas And Bloating
Factors that contribute to gas and bloating after consuming cassava flour include overeating high-starchy foods, a lack of good bacteria in the stomach, pre-existing digestive issues like SIBO or dysbiosis, and the difficulty in digesting raw cassava flour.
When overeating high-starchy foods like cassava, sweet potatoes, and yams, the body struggles to break down the excess carbohydrates. This can lead to bloating and discomfort in the abdomen. Additionally, a lack of good bacteria in the stomach can cause abdominal gas, which is often seen in individuals whose intestinal flora has been destroyed by antibiotic usage.
Cassava flour is a natural prebiotic fiber that can cause constipation, bloating, and gas in some people. Those with bacterial overgrowth or an unhealthy amount of bad bacteria in their gut may be more impacted by cassava flour. Furthermore, since cassava flour is not cooked prior to eating like roasted vegetables, it can be difficult for the body to digest. This can lead to constipation, bloating, and gas.
It’s important to note that everyone’s body reacts differently to different foods. While some people may experience gas and bloating after consuming cassava flour, others may not. If you are experiencing discomfort after consuming cassava flour, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine if it is safe for you to continue consuming this ingredient.
Tips For Reducing Gas And Bloating From Cassava Flour
If you’re experiencing gas and bloating after consuming cassava flour, there are a few tips that may help alleviate your symptoms:
1. Practice portion control: As mentioned earlier, overeating high-starchy foods like cassava can lead to belly bloating. Be mindful of your portion sizes and try to stick to recommended serving sizes.
2. Increase your water intake: Cassava flour has a higher water content than other gluten-free flours, so it’s important to stay hydrated when consuming it. Drinking plenty of water can help ease constipation and reduce bloating.
3. Incorporate probiotics into your diet: Probiotics are good bacteria that can help balance your gut flora and improve digestion. Consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt or taking a probiotic supplement may help reduce gas and bloating.
4. Cook cassava flour properly: While cassava flour is not typically cooked prior to consumption, cooking it can make it easier to digest. Try incorporating cassava flour into baked goods or cooking it as a side dish to make it more digestible.
By following these tips, you may be able to reduce gas and bloating caused by consuming cassava flour. However, if your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying digestive issues.