Can cabbage trigger stomach pain?

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Cabbage is a hard to digest food that can cause bloating and stomach pain. Even though the discomfort due to gas is common, an underlying digestive ailment or food poisoning might be the culprit. If the individual suffers from intense cramping for a prolonged span of time or there are other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or fever, consult a doctor right away.

Intestinal gas

The gas that is trapped in the intestines can be described as a cramp-like sensation. Most of the gas is triggered by swallowing air while eating or from the normal breakdown of food in the GI tract.

The gas that is trapped in the intestines can be described as a cramp-like sensation.

If the gas is excessive, stomach pain, bloating and nausea can occur. Various foods can trigger excess gas in the GI tract since they are hard to break down and digest. Cabbage is one of these foods and must be avoided. Luckily, intestinal gas is only brief and settles after a bowel movement.

Stomach cramping

Cabbage is hard to digest since it contains a complex form of sugar called as raffinose. This sugar requires a specific enzyme known as α-galactosidase to degrade it into its essential components.

Humans do not have this enzyme in the stomach or small intestine, thus cabbage is moved into the large intestine where bacteria degrade it down. This process produces excess gas which leads to stomach pain, bloating and flatulence in some individuals.


Raw cabbage that was not thoroughly cleaned, packaged or cooked might contain detrimental bacteria which leads to food poisoning. It is important to note that food poisoning can be caused by staphylococcus, salmonella or E. coli.

Aside from stomach pain, other symptoms include gas, diarrhea and bloating. In severe cases, it can also cause fever, chills and weakness.

GI ailments

Consuming cabbage will not always cause stomach pain or gas, but it is hard to digest. If the individual has an underlying digestive ailment, the difficulty in digesting cabbage can trigger the flare-up of symptoms.

Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or small intestine bacterial overflow are milder ailments that often include gas, stomach pain, burping and belching that can be aggravated by eating hard to digest foods.


Avoid eating raw cabbage if it triggers severe gas and stomach pain or if the individual has an underlying digestive condition. If cabbage could not be avoided, cooking can lessen the cramping as well as using an enzyme supplement to promote the breakdown of raffinose.

Thorough cleansing of raw cabbage can help in preventing food poisoning. A doctor must be consulted if the stomach pain is severe or persists for more than several hours.

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