Many conditions could result to diarrhea. Some cases of diarrhea are due to infections or a side effect of medication. Some certain foods can cause diarrhea.
Five foods that may cause diarrhea
- High-fat and spicy foods
Fried and fatty foods can cause diarrhea because the body finds it hard to process these foods. A fat substitute called Olestra can cause diarrhea, although it is no longer commonly used by the food industry. People should check labels of fat-free products, such as potato chips, to see if it lists Olestra as an ingredient. Spicy foods like those that contain hot peppers can lead to diarrhea.
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- Sugar and sugar substitutes
Foods that contain high amount of sugar can cause diarrhea. When people eat foods that contain a lot of sugar, water enters their intestines, causing their stool to be loose and watery. Fructose is a component of table sugar that occurs naturally in fruits. Some fruits contain more fructose than others. Some examples of foods high in fructose are grapes, apple juice, agave, and soda.
Consuming more fructose than is needed by the body can lead to diarrhea, since the body can only digest a certain amount of fructose at one time.
People who are lactose intolerant may have diarrhea after consuming dairy products. Lactose intolerance is rampant among African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Mexican Americans, and Native Americans.
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Some people with lactose intolerance may be able to tolerate kefir, hard cheese, and yogurt since they are lower in lactose.
Drinks and foods that contain caffeine can cause diarrhea in some people. Caffeine is a stimulant and hastens the rate that food moves through the intestines. Common dietary sources of caffeine include: coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda.
Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols are a category of carbohydrate called FODMAPs. High-FODMAP foods are difficult for some people to digest and may cause diarrhea.
Lactose and sugar alcohols, are considered FODMAPs. The list of high-FODMAP foods is extensive, but a few other examples include beans, artichokes, garlic, and onions
Gluten is the protein in wheat, rye, and barley, and many of the people who have problems digesting it have a serious illness, such as celiac disease. When someone has celiac disease, their immune system reacts to gluten and causes damage to the small intestine.
People that do not have celiac disease may still have issues tolerating gluten. If someone suspects that gluten may be responsible for their diarrhea, it is important that they see a doctor for proper testing before starting a gluten-free diet.
How to know if diarrhea is caused by food
If a person makes food changes and experiences diarrhea, then diarrhea could be food-related. It could also be related to food if a person notices that a particular food or type of food, such as dairy products, causes diarrhea. Keeping a food and symptom diary can be helpful in establishing a pattern.
Also, it is vital to check recent medication before attaching diarrhea to food, it is also important to check recent medication changes. Diarrhea is a common side effect of many drugs, such as magnesium, antibiotics and medications.
Diarrhea may be caused by food intolerance if it:
- contains blood or pus
- is accompanied by a fever
- occurs for an extended period
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are also available to treat diarrhea. People should check with their doctor to work out if a drug bought at a store is okay for them.
According to research, loperamide (Imodium) and simethicone bring more relief when taken together than individually.
Another medication that gives relief is bismuth subsalicylate, better known as Pepto-Bismol.
Foods high in soluble fiber can help promote more formed stools while foods that are high in insoluble fiber can worsen diarrhea.
Probiotics are the favorable bacteria that live in the gut which are helpful treatment for children with diarrhea, but more studies in adults are required. Some foods that are high in soluble fiber include oats and oranges.
For someone suffering from diarrhea, it’s important to remain hydrated by drinking lots of fluids. Fluids that have both sugar and salt, called oral rehydration solutions (ORS), are easier for the body to absorb. Other fluids to take apart from water are broth, diluted juice, sports drinks, and flat ginger ale.
When to see a doctor
People are advised to see a doctor if diarrhea persists after two days, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Consult a doctor if diarrhea contains blood, or is accompanied by severe stomach pain.
Infants and older adults are more susceptible to dehydration. Signs to watch out for include;
- dizziness or confusion
- a reduced amount of urine
- increased heart rate