Potatoes are great and when eaten occasionally, they are unlikely to cause any harm. However, when you have too many carbohydrates such as potatoes in your diet you might experience side effects. Here is what you need to know about chest and stomach pain after eating potatoes.
Potato is a perfect source of many minerals and vitamins. There are different varieties of potatoes and how they’re prepared to bring about the potato’s nutritional context.
Potatoes have many health benefits:
- Potatoes are high in nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium.
- Antioxidants in the potato can help to prevent diseases like cancer or cardiovascular problems.
- They contain resistant starch, which can improve insulin resistance and might help weight loss.
- The resistant starch in potatoes is prebiotic, which improves gut health.
- While digesting potatoes, a short-chain fatty acid, called butyrate, is produced. which strengthens the colon’s defenses and reduces inflammation.
- No matter how potatoes are prepared, they have a high glycemic index and therefore might cause a spike in blood sugar.
- It is easy to eat too many potatoes, which might result in weight gain.
- French fries might contain a lot of oil. Oily foods can cause chest pain and all kinds of digestive problems.
- Potato chips can contain a lot of salt. Salty foods might be bad for your heart or digestion.
Albeit not common, some people do experience chest tightness after eating potatoes.
The way potatoes are prepared might have a great impact on the digestion process. Too much oil, fat, or salt can put pressure on your digestive tract and might trigger symptoms.
Most likely causes of chest pain after potatoes:
- acid reflux or heartburn
- cardiovascular problems, like angina
- potato allergy or intolerance
- eating too much
- eating too fast
- eating oily french fries or salty potato chips
- too hot potatoes might cause esophageal spasm
In some cases, problems in your digestive system might cause stomach pain that radiates into the chest.
Even when experiencing chest pain after potatoes, it is likely that some other ingredient is triggering the symptom, not the potato.
Why do potatoes give you heartburn?
Actually, potato is considered to be a reflux-friendly food, it is unlikely to experience heartburn because of potatoes.
If you still get heartburn after eating potatoes, these are the most likely causes:
- Eating too much: Too much of anything in the stomach might trigger reflux symptoms for those, who are prone to acid reflux.
- Unhealthy food: While a moderate amount of baked or mashed potatoes are unlikely to cause problems, a large bowl of potato chips or french fries with fried meat can easily trigger symptoms. However, in such cases, it’s not the potato, but the fat is the problem.
Stomach pain after eating potatoes
Potatoes are usually easy on the stomach, however, they might cause symptoms in some cases. Potato allergy, potato intolerance, and oil or fat are the most common causes of stomach pain after potatoes.
Since chest pain after eating potatoes usually originates from the stomach and radiates into the chest, most cases that cause chest pain will also cause stomach pain after eating potatoes.
Stomach pain after eating potatoes might happen for a variety of reasons:
- potato allergy or intolerance
- eating too much potato
- eating oily french fries
Stomach pain and potato chips
Stomach cramps, upset stomach, and other forms of abdominal pain after eating potato chips happen to most of us now and then.
The cause is usually not the potato, but the way these chips are prepared. Potato chips are usually high in oil and salt, both ingredients might trigger symptoms.
However, if you are experiencing symptoms after eating other types of potato, like mashed or baked potato, you might have an allergy or intolerance.
When you’re allergic to potatoes, it means your immune system has mistakenly identified certain proteins in the potato as toxic substances. Your immune system reacts by isolating and attacking these intruders.
With the immune system trying to protect the body, it produces antibodies along with histamine hence triggering allergic reactions.
Only a small percentage of people are allergic to potatoes. They’re most likely to be allergic to raw potatoes rather than cooked. Besides, children can outgrow their allergies to potatoes, unlike adults who remain affected forever.
Potato allergy rarely causes chest or stomach pain. The typical symptoms are
- itchy skin
- runny nose
- sometimes it might cause difficulty of breathing
- vomiting, nausea
In rare cases, potato allergy might cause anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical help.
Unlike an allergy, intolerance is a digestive disorder and it is more likely to cause stomach pain, sometimes even chest pain.
Potato intolerance can cause a wide variety of symptoms, however, there is no such severe symptom as anaphylaxis.
Common symptoms are:
- belly pain, stomach cramps, upset stomach
- nausea, vomiting
- gas, bloating
Potato intolerance and bloating
When you have potato intolerance, your stomach and small intestine cannot fully digest potato. As undigested potato enters the large intestine, bacteria start to break it down. During this process gases like hydrogen, methane, or carbon dioxide are formed.
Until these gases are passed out, they might cause bloating, and as a result pain in the stomach or chest.
If potato intolerance causes bloating for you, you might try these tips:
- prepare potato differently (baked, mashed, etc.) – french fries and potato chips are not a good idea, as they might cause symptoms
- eat smaller amounts
- if all else fails, you need to avoid potato
If you think you have potato allergy or intolerance, you should go to an allergologist and get tested.
Do potatoes cause gas?
Yes, because of the high starch content, potatoes might give you gas, even if you don’t have potato intolerance.
Enzymes start to digest starch in the small intestine, however, digestion is usually not finished here, so some undigested food enters the large intestine.
There is no enzymatic digestion of carbohydrates in the large intestine, but bacteria start to ferment the food. This fermentation causes gas.
The amount of gas produces depends on your gut microbiota, therefore some people might experience more gas than others.
Other reasons for being gassy after potatoes:
- Swallowing air: This always happens when we eat and it is perfectly normal. However, those who are eating too fast might swallow too much air.
- Fibers: Fibers might also be fermented in the large intestine, causing gas. Although, potato doesn’t contain too much fiber, and most of its fiber content is in the skin. If potatoes give you gas, make sure to eat them peeled and see if it helps.
- Potato intolerance: As mentioned above, those who are intolerant to potatoes miss certain enzymes that help break down the potato in the small intestine. This means it is more likely that undigested potato enters the large intestine, causing gas and bloating.
If potatoes make you gassy, try various preparation methods and see if the condition improves. Also be mindful about the other ingredients, adding too much salt, fat, or oil might also trigger symptoms.
Diarrhea after eating potatoes
Potatoes are often recommended to help with diarrhea. However, sometimes it can be the trigger.
This is how potato might cause diarrhea:
- Too many unpeeled potatoes: The skin of the potato contains most of its fiber content and too much fiber can trigger diarrhea. The risk is higher when you eat potatoes with other high-fiber foods, like green peas, broccoli, etc.
- Potato allergy or intolerance: As mentioned above, both conditions might trigger diarrhea and various other symptoms.
- It’s not the potato: Sometimes some other ingredients are causing diarrhea, not the potato. For example, olestra-containing products – like some chips – might trigger diarrhea, but the culprit is not the potato.
What to do if potatoes cause you stomach or chest pain?
- If an allergy is causing you symptoms, your allergologist probably will recommend eliminating potatoes from your diet.
- If you are potato intolerant, your doctor might either suggest avoiding potatoes or try to prepare them differently.
- If potato gives you heartburn, it is probably because of the way potato was cooked. Baked and mashed potatoes are unlikely to cause acid reflux, french fries and potato chips might give you heartburn.
- If potato triggers excessive gas production in your stomach, try to limit the amount you eat.
Because of its high resistant starch content, potato is considered to be good for the gut. However, in some cases, potatoes might trigger unwanted symptoms.
Quite often the problem is not the potato itself, but the amount consumed or the way the potato was prepared.
Eating too much from any food might trigger stomach pain or chest symptoms like heartburn.
In general, oily french fries and salty potato chips are more likely to trigger eating-related symptoms, baked and mashed potatoes are more friendly to your gut.
It is also quite possible that it’s not the potato, that is triggering the symptoms. Deep-fried foods, spicy foods might cause chest or stomach pain. If you eat potatoes with a big slice of red meat, that might also trigger symptoms.
Frequently asked questions
If other forms of potato, e.g. baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, also cause problems, you are likely allergic or intolerant to potatoes. Get yourself tested to be sure and avoid eating potatoes.
However, if only french fries trigger stomach pain, it might be either overeating or the high oil content of the food. Such oily foods can cause stomach pain if you already have a problem in your digestive system, like gallbladder inflammation or pancreatitis.
If the pain is sharp and severe, you might need immediate medical help, otherwise visit a gastroenterologist to find the exact cause.
All fried foods are hard to digest. French fries are high in carbs, so they are somewhat easier to digest than high protein fried foods, e.g. fried chicken.
It can still take anywhere between one to three days to completely digest french fries (time from eating until food is excreted).
Yes, potatoes might cause gas to some people. This is because when the starch in the potato is digested, the bacteria in your large intestine can produce gas.
Another possible reason is potato allergy or intolerance.
In most cases, this might be potato allergy or intolerance. Watch out for your other symptoms, and visit an allergist to get tested.
However, if you are nauseous after eating potato chips or other unhealthy forms of potato, it is possible that it’s not the potato to blame, but some other ingredients, like fat.