While diarrhea can sometimes be impossible to avoid, knowing which foods are more likely to cause diarrhea is an easy way to help keep your gut healthy. Everyone has specific foods that they don’t tolerate well and these vary from person to person depending on allergies and sensitivities, but there are foods that have a greater likelihood of causing diarrhea across the board. In this article, you’ll learn about foods that commonly cause diarrhea and some healthy alternatives.
These might seem like an unlikely addition to the list of foods that may cause diarrhea, but they are actually one of the main culprits. Artificial sweeteners have been shown to negatively impact the delicate and important balance of gut bacteria in your digestive tract, which can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhea, along with potentially more serious conditions like increased intestinal permeability and IBS. Indeed, many doctors advise those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to eliminate artificial sweeteners, particularly saccharin, aspartame, and sugar alcohols.
For many people, coffee is a part of their daily routine and causes no issues. But for others, it can cause digestive stress, including diarrhea.
According to the International Foundation of Functional Digestive Disorders, any caffeinated beverage has the potential to cause diarrhea or loose stools. Along with the nervous system, caffeine stimulates the digestive system. Couple that with the fact that it’s common to add artificial sweeteners and milk to coffee (two other foods that commonly cause diarrhea) and you might run into problems when drinking your morning brew.
If coffee tends to cause diarrhea or loose stools, try going half or full decaf, and consider swapping sugar or artificial sweeteners for a little bit of unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk or almond milk instead. Or, switch to green tea for reduced caffeine intake.
Spicy Foods & Seasonings
If you don’t commonly eat spicy foods, things like curries and chili can be very irritating to the gut lining, causing symptoms such as gas, bloating, pain and diarrhea. If this happens to you, begin by adding smaller amounts of these seasonings to see if you’re able to handle a little spice, and slowly work your way up. If not, trade spicy seasonings for more mild alternatives such as paprika or curry powder.
If you experience diarrhea after drinking milk or consuming other dairy products, you may be lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance does not mean you are allergic to dairy – a dairy allergy is caused by a reaction to the proteins in dairy while a lactose intolerance means your body lacks the enzyme needed to break down lactose. Some people with lactose intolerance can still tolerate small amounts of yogurt and cheese, while others can’t. If dairy milk seems to bother your gut, try replacing it with an unsweetened almond, coconut, hemp or macadamia nut milk.
Broccoli and Cauliflower
These nutrient-dense foods, while wonderful for your health, are very dense in fiber that can be irritating for many, especially when eaten raw. Other cruciferous vegetables that could have similar effects include cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts.
Cooking these foods breaks down their fiber in a way that makes them less irritating for some people. However, if these foods in both their raw and cooked form leave you running for the bathroom, consider swapping them out for less problematic vegetables such as spinach, carrots, beets or any other vegetable outside of the cruciferous family.
Fast & Deep-Fried Food
Fast foods, particularly those that have been deep-fried, are heavy in unhealthy fats that may be hard for the body to digest. Rancid or highly processed vegetable oils and “fake fats” (including trans-fats that are sometimes used in deep frying) can cause diarrhea and other negative health consequences. If you plan to eat at a fast food establishment, it’s best to opt for grilled or baked options instead.
Even though diarrhea is sometimes unavoidable, you can make some simple switches in your diet to avoid foods that commonly cause diarrhea. Taking a high-quality probiotic can also help keep your gut bacteria balanced and your digestive system working properly.