Diarrhea is an inconvenient and unpleasant condition that happens to nearly everyone. This gastrointestinal problem causes loose, watery and possibly more frequent bowel movements.
While diarrhea is usually short-lived, the symptoms can last for a long duration and even worsen in some cases.
Everyday things like diet, medication and stress play a key role in how your body heals from any condition. With diarrhea, the food you eat plays a major role in either speeding up your recovery or worsening your condition.
Foods that cause diarrhea tend to contain high amounts of artificial ingredients, oils, spices or stimulants like caffeine.
Here are the top 10 foods to avoid when suffering from diarrhea.
The lactose in milk and other soft dairy products, such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, ice cream and sour cream, is something your weak intestines cannot handle when you’re suffering from diarrhea. When you consume too much lactose, it goes into the large intestine, making your condition worse.
However, you can calm your digestive system by eating yogurt and hard cheeses because they have little to no lactose.
If you’re lactose intolerant, you can pretty much bet on the fact that eating foods containing lactose will give you diarrhea. Other symptoms of lactose intolerance include gas, cramps, bloating and bad breath. To prevent diarrhea due to lactose intolerance, avoid milk and milk-based products completely.
2. Hot Peppers
Another food that can aggravate diarrhea is hot peppers. The compound capsaicin in peppers is known to trigger diarrhea.
It irritates the stomach lining during digestion, which results in diarrhea as well as gas, bloating and a burning sensation in your stomach. Both the seeds and skin of hot peppers can be hard on your weak digestive system.
A 2007 study published in Neurogastroenterology & Motility found that chili ingestion produced more abdominal pain and burning in patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome than in healthy volunteers.
You must ditch your regular coffee when suffering from diarrhea.
The caffeine in coffee contributes to loose stools. Also, caffeine has a diuretic effect that can worsen the dehydration caused by diarrhea.
A caffeine-free, herbal tea with ginger or peppermint is an excellent alternative beverage that will actually calm your bowel movements.
Not just coffee, you must put on hold on anything that contains caffeine, such as soda, until your tummy troubles go away or else it will irritate your digestive tract and speed up fluid and electrolyte loss.
When suffering from diarrhea or any other stomach issues, don’t drink any alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol is toxic to the stomach lining and it also changes liver metabolism. Drinking too much can cause indigestion, which can worsen your condition when battling diarrhea.
Also, it can prevent proper rehydration and trigger water loss, which can make your condition worse.
On top of that, alcohol sometimes interferes with medications being taken to treat diarrhea, Crohn’s disease or colitis.
In the list of foods that you should avoid when you have diarrhea, you cannot ignore legumes. Whether you eat soybeans, lima beans, or peas, these legumes move through to the small intestine and enter the large intestine undigested.
Undigested legumes is one of the main causes of flatulence as well as diarrhea.
Legumes are also high in lectins, a class of proteins that cause increased inflammation in your gut.
To prevent diarrhea, legumes can be eaten with soluble fiber. However, do not eat legumes if you are already suffering from diarrhea.
6. Sugar Substitutes
Another offender in this list of diarrhea-causing foods is artificial sweeteners like sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol, which are commonly found in sugar-free gum, candy and medications.
These sweeteners are absorbed much more slowly than table sugar. They tend to reach the large intestine without being absorbed, which in turn causes diarrhea. Plus, bacteria in the stomach eat those sugars and produce more gas.
If you are prone to stomach disorders like diarrhea, always read the nutrition labels on foods before you buy them to avoid artificial sweeteners.
Nuts and dried fruits are rich in insoluble fiber that can make your diarrhea symptoms worse.
Nuts are hard to digest and can irritate the lining of your intestines, especially when suffering from upset stomach. Such foods can also cause a lot of bloating.
Substitute nuts and dried fruits with other healthy snacks like cooked carrots or a ripe banana, which can be soothing to your stomach.
8. Red Meat
While red meat is a good source of many good nutrients, it takes time to digest. Red meat intake also increases levels of C-reactive protein and ferritin, both of which are inflammatory chemicals. Inflammation of the digestive tract can worsen your diarrhea.
On top of that, red meat is linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, conditions in which inflammation plays a key role.
While suffering from diarrhea, avoid red meat and look for other sources of protein, such as Greek yogurt.
9. Citrus Fruits
Citrus Fruits such as seeded berries, pineapples, cherries, currants, and grapes can also add to your troubles when dealing with diarrhea.
This particularly happens when there is malabsorption of the fructose in the fruit, which contributes to loose stools.
You can still have other fruits like bananas.
10. Cruciferous Vegetables
When you have diarrhea, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, coleslaw and sauerkraut can worsen your condition.
These vegetables contain a complex carbohydrate that’s difficult to digest. Also, they have insoluble fiber that worsens diarrhea and gas within the gastrointestinal system.
Apart from these cruciferous vegetables, also limit your intake of artichokes, Brussels sprouts, onions, shallots, leeks and asparagus.
Tips to speed up recovery from diarrhea
While staying away from the above mentioned foods can help improve your diarrhea symptoms, there are also certain foods that you can eat to speed up your recovery and get your digestive tract back to normal.
- Foods that help reduce inflammation and reestablish healthy bacteria in your digestive tract include potatoes, white rice, pasta, oatmeal, almond milk, eggs, pureed vegetable soups, salmon, mackerel, bananas, papayas, chicken, avocados and butter lettuce.
- Eat small meals every three to four hours and avoid big meals to help minimize your symptoms.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water or an oral rehydration solution throughout the day. When suffering from chronic diarrhea, there is a risk of dehydration.