What You Eat And Drink Can Affect Your Gut Health And Cause Diarrhea
Did you know that what you eat and even the way you eat can affect your digestive health? Eating foods that your digestive system does not tolerate well may play a role in triggering or prolonging bouts of diarrhea.
Diarrhea is when you have loose and watery bowel movements . This occurs when a bacteria, virus, or other irritant causes the natural rhythm of your gut to become overactive. Food and fluids pass too quickly through the gut, preventing the absorption of water and minerals.
Since what you eat and drink plays such a big role in your gut health, knowing how to recognize potential food triggers may be helpful.
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In a perfect world, everyone would place their pints of ice cream back in the freezer immediately after scooping out a serving . Since that’s not going to happen every time, Rachel Lustgarten, a registered dietitian and food safety expert at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, has a good rule of thumb to go by.
“If the container no longer feels frozen to the touch and the melted ice cream is not visibly frozen anymore, the pint or tub should be discarded,” Lustgarten told TODAY Food. “Also, you want to make sure to avoid the temperature danger zone of 40 degrees to 140 degrees.”
That means that even semi-melted ice cream should be tossed and not refrozen.
“Freezing prevents the growth of listeria but will not kill it,” said Lustgarten.
Avoid Diarrhea After Ice Cream
Stomach pain after eating ice cream and other dairy products are most effectively eliminated by avoiding dairy. Dairy may be found in unlikely places, such as in deli meats, salad dressings and sauces. You can still enjoy eating a frozen treat and avoid diarrhea after ice cream by choosing alternatives to milk, such as ice cream made from soy, coconut or almond milk.
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Foods And Drinks To Avoid That Can Cause Diarrhea
Everyone is different. What might trigger diarrhea for one person could be fine for another. Here are some of the food groups and drinks that can trigger or worsen diarrhea for some people1:
Fried, greasy, and fatty foods Foods that are high in saturated and trans fats can cause diarrhea or make symptoms worse. The extra fat is broken down in the colon , which causes the release of extra fluids that cause a bout of diarrhea.
Spicy foods Spicy food is one of the more common culprits of diarrhea and stomach pain. Capsaicin, which gives peppers their spicy taste, can be an irritant for some people2.
Sugar and artificial sweeteners Fructose is a sugar that occurs naturally in fruits . Since the body can only digest small amounts of fructose at a time, eating too much fructose-containing foods at one time can cause diarrhea1. Sugar alcohols like sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, and fructose can irritate the digestive system1,3. Keep an eye out for these ingredients on product packaging.
Caffeine Caffeine stimulates your digestive system as well as your mind. If you think that caffeine may be triggering your diarrhea, try to limit how much caffeine you consume in foods and drinks 1.
Lactose-containing foods Milk, cheese, cream, and other dairy products are known to cause diarrhea for people with lactose intolerance. If you are lactose intolerant, consider LACTAID® products or non-dairy alternatives.
What Are The Symptoms Of Ibs
IBS is defined as recurrent abdominal pain . The onset of pain is associated with at least 2 of the following 30048-8/fulltext?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov%2F” rel=”nofollow”> reference):
- Defecation : the pain either resolves or increases with bowel movements.
- A change in stool form: with the onset of pain, the stool either becomes harder or looser.
- A change in stool frequency: diarrhea or constipation.
Learn How doctors diagnose IBS HERE.
After the exclusion of other diseases, we diagnose IBS based on the clinical criteria above.
IBS has many subtypes. The important subtype that can cause recurrent explosive diarrhea after eating is diarrhea-predominant IBS.
Either food or stress triggers IBS with diarrhea. IBS diarrhea after eating is related to a famous group of food called FODMAPs .
Common Examples of food that trigger Explosive diarrhea after eating with IBS:
The complete list of food that triggers IBS is here.
Consult your doctor if you think you have IBS .
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You Have A Food Intolerance
Unprompted chocolate diarrhea isn’t common. Instead, a food intolerance to one of the ingredients in a chocolate bar may be to blame for your bathroom troubles.
Take, for instance, dairy. Chocolate can contain milk, and if you have lactose intolerance â a condition where your body’s lactase enzymes aren’t able to break down the lactose in dairy products â you may have digestive troubles like diarrhea, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Besides diarrhea, other symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
Why Does Chocolate Milk Give You Diarrhea?
If you find other dairy products like chocolate milk also cause digestive distress, lactose intolerance could be to blame, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Milk And Other Dairy Products
If you find that you have loose stool after drinking milk or eating dairy products, you may have lactose intolerance.
Many people dont know they have lactose intolerance. It tends to run in families and can develop later in life.
Lactose intolerance means that your body doesnt have the enzymes to break down certain sugars in dairy.
Instead of breaking it down, your body disposes of these sugars very quickly, often in the form of diarrhea.
There are plenty of substitutes for cows milk on the market, including:
- lactose-free dairy milk
Lactose intolerance is a common cause of chronic diarrhea. If you have this condition, avoiding dairy products should clear up diarrhea.
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How Can Parents Help
To help your child deal with lactose intolerance:
- Buy lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk and calcium-fortified juices.
- Remind your child to take a lactase enzyme supplement right before eating dairy products. These come as drops or tablets that can even be added to milk.
- Serve a variety of dairy-free foods that are rich in calcium, such as broccoli, beans, tofu, or soy milk. Buy hard cheeses such as cheddar, which are lower in lactose.
- Yogurts that contain active cultures are easier to digest and much less likely to cause lactose problems.
- Check food labels. Lactose is added to some boxed, canned, frozen, and prepared foods. Some words are clues that the food has lactose in it: butter, cheese, cream, dried milk, milk solids, powdered milk, and whey, for example.
Intolerance & Allergy To Other Ice Cream Constituents
Some may complain of diarrhea after eating ice cream and not milk. In addition, selective intolerance to ice cream may indicate that you are intolerant to ice cream components other than lactose, such as artificial sweeteners, fructose sugar, and chocolate.
A long list of foods and food constituents can cause intolerance symptomsdifferent ice cream brands and flavors. Food allergy is another form of food reaction that can occur after you eat ice cream.
Food allergy is an immune-mediated reaction to particular food constituents. The differences and examples are illustrated in the below table.
Food allergy can result from eating tiny amounts of the offending food. Contrarily, food intolerance symptoms are related to the amount you eat from the offending food.
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What Happens In Lactose Intolerance
As with everything else you eat, your body needs to digest lactose to be able to use it for fuel. The small intestine normally makes a special substance called lactase , an enzyme that breaks lactose down into simpler sugars called glucose and galactose . These sugars are easy for your body to absorb and turn into energy.
People with lactose intolerance do not make enough lactase in their small intestine. Without lactase, the body can’t properly digest food that has lactose in it. This means that if you eat dairy foods, the lactose from these foods will pass into your intestine, which can lead to gas, cramps, a bloated feeling, and diarrhea , which is loose, watery poop.
Even if you don’t have trouble with lactose now, there’s a chance you might someday. Why? Because your body starts making less lactase when you’re around 2 years old. The older you get, the more likely it is that you could have trouble digesting dairy foods.
Is It Okay To Eat Ice Cream Every Day
As mentioned above, too much ice cream can be bad for your digestion, meaning that it is vital that you moderate your intake. It is therefore not recommended to eat ice cream every day, especially if you are watching your sugar and fat intake.
However, you can still enjoy ice cream up to twice per week! An added bonus would be to opt for ice cream that is lower in sugar and calories.
If you still experience adverse effects from ice cream after eating it in small quantities, it may be a sign that you have an intolerance or an allergy to the milk found in ice cream.
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Tips For Adding Lactose Foods Back After A Lactose Diet:
- Gradually add small amounts of food and drinks that contain lactose to determine your tolerance level. You may be able to tolerate up to 1/2 cup of milk or the equivalent with each meal.
- Drink milk in servings of one cup or less.
- Try hard cheeses that are low in lactose, like cheddar.
- Drink milk with a meal or with other foods.
- Try yogurt or Greek yogurt with active cultures. You may be able to digest yogurt better than milk. Your own tolerance may vary depending on the brand. Frozen yogurt may not be tolerated as well as yogurt.
- Substitute lactose-reduced dairy products and 100 percent lactose-free milk for regular dairy products. These products are located in the dairy section of most supermarkets.
- The lactase enzyme is also available in liquid, tablet or chewable form. No prescription is needed and it can help you tolerate foods containing lactose. Take the enzyme with the lactose-containing food. Lactase will help you digest the lactose so your body can absorb it. Some over-the-counter enzyme products that are available include Lactaid®, Lactrace®, Dairy Ease®, and Sure-Lac®.
- Many canned nutritional supplements are lactose-free. Product labels should be checked.
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How Does It Work
Some people believe that following the BRAT diet can provide several benefits for those with an upset stomach and diarrhea. The apparent benefits include:
- Firmer stools. The foods in the diet are starchy and low in fiber, which may cause loose and runny stools to bind more easily.
- Gentle on the stomach. The foods are low in fat and protein, meaning that they are unlikely to irritate the stomach and put stress on the digestive system.
- Reduced nausea. Due to their bland flavor and lack of strong smells, BRAT foods do not tend to cause nausea or vomiting.
However, these foods do not have varied enough nutrients to warrant the long-term use of this diet.
Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance
Signs of lactose intolerance are easily recognizable. If youve just eaten dairy products and have any of the following symptoms within 30 minutes to two hours after eating, you may be lactose intolerant.
These symptoms all happen because the small intestine cant properly digest the sugar in dairy products. As a result, bacteria in the large intestine ferment the undigested lactose, causing a buildup of gas and water. Adults and children will experience many of the same symptoms if theyre lactose intolerant.
Lactose intolerance is a manageable condition that does not usually cause serious symptoms. Some people with lactose intolerance dont experience any symptoms at all. The severity of symptoms depends on the person, their response to the foods they eat, and other factors.
Lactose intolerance may be confused for a milk allergy, but being allergic to milk is a very different thing. A milk allergy is caused by an immune reaction to milk proteins and can be life-threatening. Infants and children with a milk allergy may have symptoms such as hives, wheezing, vomiting, and swelling of the face or throat. Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening reaction to milk products that warrants immediate medical attention.
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Hold Up: Lactose Intolerance Symptoms For Days
Thats right lactose intolerance symptoms can sometimes last for up to 2 days, although they might resolve much quicker.
In the meantime, drink water to flush your system. And, avoid additional lactose-containing products and excessive raw fruits and veggies. They can contribute to increased gas and bloating when your system is already irritated.
Learn How To Identify The Foods Or Ingredients That Give You The Runs
As we age, our digestive systems can become more sensitive to certain types of foods and methods of food preparation. While you once may have handled the spiciest of foods without breaking a sweat, now that super-hot chicken curry gives you the digestive drama known as diarrheauncomfortable, unformed, watery stool.
Sometimes diarrhea occurs because of an underlying condition, or as a side effect of a medication . However, diet is often the cause.
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Ways To Treat Diarrhea
Look for liquids with sugar and salt Pedialyte or full-salt soups work well,” he says. “If your urine is not clear, or you are not making much urine, you are not drinking enough.”
In terms of diarrhea treatment, Higgins says, if you dont have an infection and are not seeing blood, you can take over-the-counter loperamide to slow your bowel movements. But this kind of medication should only be taken for a day or two.
If diet and simple remedies aren’t working, and if symptoms persist for more than a few days and include bleeding, gas, and bloating, you should see a doctor. Your doctor can determine whether the diarrhea is caused by a more serious condition, and can recommend treatment.
Additional reporting by María Villaseñor.
So How Bad Is It To Eat Dairy If Youre Lactose Intolerant
Lactose intolerance isnt dangerous, Dr. Inra notes, and if you splurge on the cheesy nachos, there will likely be no long-term consequences.
But, thats not the case 100 percent of the time: There are some individuals who actually do have permanent damage done to the microvilli of their intestine when they drink or consume foods with lactose in it, says Hunnes.
And thats a problem, since the microvilli absorb nutrients into your bloodstream. So if they are damaged, you wont be able to absorb and utilize your nutrients properly. The result? Malnutrition, says Hunnes, which can leave you lacking the nutrients you need.
But dont freak outits a very rare condition, affecting less than one percent of the population, she says.
Most of us, instead, pay for eating dairy with the nastyalbeit temporarysymptoms listed above. In most cases, youll start to feel better once everything is through your system, about 12 to 24 hours later, says Hunnes.
Still, even if youre lactose intolerant, you dont have to swear off cheese. You just need a better game plan, and that can include some OTC meds that can help you digest dairy.
Just make sure to take the pills before eating dairy. If they are taken later, they may not work as well.
Younger, fresher cheeses, such as American, feta, and mozzarella have higher lactose content, she says.
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The Chocolate Contains Artificial Sweeteners
Here’s another reason chocolate can cause diarrhea: It can contain artificial sweeteners like sorbitol or mannitol, which can lead to watery stools for some people, according to the IFFDG.
Another type of sugar called fructose â which occurs naturally in fruits â may also be added to chocolate. It can likewise cause diarrhea, per the IFFGD.
Will Chocolate Give You Diarrhea?
Diarrhea after eating chocolate isn’t inevitable. But if you know you have an existing intolerance, allergy or sensitivity to an ingredient in chocolate products, then it’s possible that the treat will trigger symptoms.
Wait Will I Be Lactose Intolerant Forever Forever
Once lactose intolerant, always lactose intolerant. Thats because the condition is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, and at least right now, doctors and scientists dont know a way to increase your bodys production of this enzyme.
You might not be totally SOL, though there are over-the-counter lactase tablets that you can take about 30 minutes before eating a meal containing dairy to mitigate symptoms. However, they dont work for everybody.
So, unfortunately, it might be time to kiss your lasagna and dairy ice cream goodbye for good. On the bright side, weve fully entered the era of the milk alternatives, so there are tons of options to choose from.
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What Is Lactose Intolerance
People who have lactose intolerance have trouble digesting lactose, a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy foods. Lactose intolerance does not mean a kid is allergic to milk, but they will probably feel bad after drinking milk or eating cheese, ice cream, or anything else containing lactose.
A lot of people have lactose intolerance, but no one has to put up with feeling awful. If you have lactose intolerance, you can learn to watch what you eat and your doctor may suggest medicine that can help.