Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual. It is a common problem that can be caused by many factors, including certain foods. While diarrhea is usually short-lived, it can lead to dehydration and nutritional deficiencies if severe or persistent.
Being aware of foods that commonly cause diarrhea can help you avoid this unpleasant symptom. In this article, we will discuss 5 of the biggest dietary culprits for diarrhea and provide tips on how to prevent it.
Diarrhea occurs when excess fluid accumulates in the intestines, resulting in loose or watery stools. It has many possible causes, including:
– Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections
– Food intolerance or allergies
– Reaction to medications
– Chronic conditions like IBS and IBD
– Excessive alcohol intake
In most cases, acute diarrhea lasts no more than a couple of days and goes away on its own without needing treatment. However, consult your doctor if diarrhea is accompanied by severe pain, fever, blood in stool, or dehydration.
5 Foods That Can Cause Diarrhea
Lactose intolerance is common, affecting up to 75% of the world’s population. People who are lactose intolerant lack adequate lactase enzymes to properly digest lactose, the sugar found in dairy products.
Undigested lactose in the colon pulls in a lot of fluid, causing diarrhea. Avoid milk, ice cream, and other dairy if you suspect a sensitivity.
Fructose malabsorption also manifests with diarrhea after consuming fructose-rich foods. Found in fruits and honey, fructose requires different enzymes for absorption that some people lack. Limit apples, mangoes, cherries, and other high-fructose fruits if they upset your stomach.
Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) refer to a group of short-chain carbohydrates that can be hard to digest.
They pass through the intestinal tract, drawing water with them and causing diarrhea. Foods high in FODMAPs include beans, lentils, onions, and wheat products.
➜ Fatty foods
High-fat foods require significant digestion and may aggravate the gastrointestinal system. Foods like fried dishes, fatty meats, and rich desserts take longer to break down and can trigger diarrhea by rushing stomach contents through the intestines faster than normal.
➜ Spicy foods
Spicy foods seasoned with black pepper, chili, curry, cayenne, and other pungent spices irritate the digestive tract in those sensitive to them. Avoiding triggers like hot sauce and salsa can help prevent diarrhea.
How To Prevent Diarrhea Caused By Foods?
You can take steps to prevent getting diarrhea from foods that commonly cause problems:
Keep a food diary
Track what you eat and look for patterns linking certain foods to diarrhea episodes. Identify your problematic triggers.
Read ingredient labels
Be aware of foods containing your trigger ingredients like lactose, fructose, FODMAPs, or fat. Opt for low-FODMAP-certified products.
Limit portion sizes
Eat suspect foods in smaller amounts to see if you can tolerate them with minimal issues.
After eliminating bothersome foods from your diet, reintroduce them gradually to test your tolerance.
Take over-the-counter anti-diarrheals
Medications like loperamide (Imodium) can help control acute diarrhea by slowing gut motility.
Diarrhea is an unpleasant and disruptive symptom that can be triggered by certain foods like dairy, fruits high in fructose, fatty foods, and more. Those with food sensitivities like lactose or FODMAP intolerance are most prone to diarrhea after eating problematic foods.
Being aware of your unique triggers, limiting portions, and reintroducing them slowly can help prevent food-induced diarrhea. Stay hydrated, use antidiarrheals as needed, and consult your doctor if diarrhea becomes a chronic concern. With some dietary modifications and care, diarrhea caused by common culprit foods can often be avoided.
Most cases of acute diarrhea are not serious and resolve on their own. However, persistent or severe diarrhea with additional symptoms like bloody stool, intense abdominal pain, fever, or dehydration may indicate a more serious medical issue requiring medical attention.
Home remedies to alleviate diarrhea episodes include staying hydrated with water and electrolyte beverages, getting plenty of rest, eating the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast), taking anti-diarrheal medications, and avoiding aggravating foods. Probiotic supplements may also help restore healthy gut bacteria.
Seek medical care if you have diarrhea with severe pain, vomiting, fever over 102°F, signs of dehydration, bloody stool, diarrhea lasting over 2 days in adults or 1 day in infants, or diarrhea following recent antibiotics or travel. Seeking prompt treatment can identify and resolve the cause.
Yes, bananas are one of the best foods to eat when you have diarrhea. Their starchy content helps absorb excess water in the intestines. Bananas also contain potassium which is lost during bouts of diarrhea. Just don’t overdo it – too much fiber from overripe bananas can make diarrhea worse.