HEALTH: Eating Nuts And Stomach Discomfort

HEALTH: Eating Nuts And Stomach Discomfort


Peanuts and tree nuts are two common foods that cause allergies or intolerance in those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Other common allergens are dairy, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish and corn

Most people don’t have problems with nuts and stomach discomfort; even though in reality they are difficult to digest because of the relatively high fiber and fat content.  They are digested slowly (a good thing for hunger) increasing the risk of digestive problems like bloating and gas.  Nuts also contain tannins which can interfere with digestion in some people.

Soaking nuts and seeds overnight in salty water is an easy way to make them more digestible and remove most of the phytic acid and other antinutrients.  After the nuts have soaked for a number of hours, rinse them thoroughly and dry them under the sun, in a dehydrator or oven set at the lowest temperature.

See your doctor if your stomach hurts every time you eat nuts to rule out any serious health issues. Mild discomfort that goes away a few hours after eating nuts is probably caused by intestinal gas that makes you feel bloated and uncomfortable. The timing of your pain, how long it lasts, and how much it hurts are all clues to the cause and severity of your condition.

What to Watch Out

Pay attention to two things in particular after you eat the nuts:1) How soon after you eat them does your stomach start to hurt and 2) what else you eat with them. If your stomach begins to bother you immediately, you may have a nut allergy. If it starts several hours later, when the food has had time to arrive in your lower intestine, then gas is more likely the culprit. If the pain happens when you eat a lot of food at once, particularly fatty foods like nuts, that could indicate a gall bladder problem.


Gas pains are characterized by sharp pains and the pain can “move.”   This can be caused by an imbalance in your flora. Gas can result when you eat certain carbohydrates and your small intestine doesn’t have enough of the right enzyme to digest that type of food, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. When the food reaches the large intestine, bacteria can break down the food there, but sometimes this action produces methane, which can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable.


A food allergy is a malfunction of the body’s immune system. If you have a nut allergy, your body incorrectly identifies nut proteins as hazardous. Within minutes of eating nuts, your mouth might start tingling, hives may erupt on your skin, your face and throat could swell up, you might have trouble breathing, you could feel lightheaded, and your stomach could start to hurt. You might even throw up.

Gall Bladder

The gall bladder holds bile from your liver, which helps your body digest fats. Sometimes, the ducts that let bile flow out of the gall bladder and into the small intestine get blocked by gall stones. Pain from a gall bladder attack is often just under the ribs on the right side of the body, and it starts 15 to 90 minutes after eating. If you have a gall bladder problem, high fat foods like nuts might provoke stomach pain, but you would likely have this pain whenever you ate a big meal or other kinds of fatty foods, not exclusively in response to nuts. Gall bladder pain is usually so severe that it sends people to the emergency room, where a doctor can find the problem using a sonogram or an MRI.

To keep track of your pain and what provoked it 

Consider keeping a food journal that lists what you ate, when, how much and what your response was.


If you have severe pain when you eat nuts, see your doctor.

If you experience moderate discomfort try eating fewer nuts in one sitting to help your system get accustomed to them. You can also try over-the-counter digestive aids to help break down nut carbohydrates.  Also try soaking, freezing or roasting your nuts before you eat them.  Worse case, just avoid them; but try not to eliminate them entirely, because nuts are an excellent source of of vegetable protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.


If you have severe pain when you eat nuts, see your doctor. If you only experience moderate discomfort, you can avoid nuts or you can try to get your system accustomed to them. Eliminating nuts seems like a simple solution, but they are an excellent source of vegetable protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. If you don’t want to give up nuts, try reducing the amount you eat at one time to find the point where you can digest them painlessly. You can also try over-the-counter digestive aids to help break down nut carbohydrates.


Paleo/Primal Note

  • Eat nuts in moderation for a few main reasons:

– Most nuts contain lectins that can irritate the gut lining;

– Most nuts also contain phytic acid that bind to minerals (zinc and magnesium) and blocks their absorption;

– Most nuts are very high in total polyunsaturated fat and in omega-6 fat, two things that should be kept to a minimum;

  • The “best” nuts are:

– Macadamia nuts, high in monounsaturated fat, healthy even in high amounts;

– Chestnuts, starchy and very low in polyunsaturated fat, beneficial as a source of healthy carbohydrates;

– Brazil nuts, high in omega-6 and total PUFA, but also extremely high in selenium selenium;

And remember,  you can improve the digestive profile of nuts and seeds by soaking them in salty water overnight.


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Stomach Pain After Eating Almonds

Almonds are a rich source of protein, vitamin E, fiber and many other nutrients. Many people enjoy them as a healthy, guilt-free snack. However, some find themselves regretting their choice a short time later when mild to severe abdominal pain sets in. Almonds, especially raw almonds, can create stomach pain for several reasons. Although the reaction is usually harmless, it can occasionally be symptomatic of a dangerous food allergy.

Allergic Reaction

MedlinePlus reports that tree nuts such as almonds are the cause of one of the most common food allergies. A mild food allergy can include gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, lightheadedness and nasal congestion. More serious symptoms include constriction of airways, rapid pulse or loss of consciousness. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reports that food allergies can be made worse by exercising within two hours after eating.

Raw Almonds

The skin of raw almonds contains enzyme inhibitors which make them difficult to digest, and this can be another source of stomach pain. However, raw almonds have more nutrition than roasted almonds, so many people prefer eating them in their natural state. Soaking the almonds first removes the enzymes. Put 4 cups of almonds and 2 teaspoons of salt in enough water to cover, and let them soak for several hours. Drain and allow them to dry for a day.

Food Poisoning

In 2004, millions of packages of raw almonds were recalled in response to salmonella contamination, prompting the Food and Drug Administration to require that all almonds be pasteurized before sale. These almonds are still labeled as raw. However, it is still possible to buy unpasteurized almonds from farmers’ markets and vendors outside the United States, and there is a small chance these nuts could have salmonella or other bacteria.


Mention stomach pain and almonds, and you just might have someone helpfully informing you it’s cyanide poisoning. It is true that the bitter variety of almonds produces cyanide, also known as prussic acid, when digested. However, that is the very reason they are not sold as food. The sweet almonds you buy in the store produce no cyanide.


In most cases, abdominal pain from eating almonds is a harmless and temporary condition. If you consistently have pain after eating almonds, even roasted almonds, it may be a good idea to consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of allergies. If you experience other symptoms — such as difficulty breathing, shock or severe dizziness — contact a doctor right away because these are symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.


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