What Foods Cause Diarrhea?

What Foods Cause Diarrhea?

Because changes in your digestive health can change how you process food, you can gradually start experiencing more frequent bouts of diarrhea and your favorite spicy buffalo wings may go from a treat to a terrible mistake.

Of course, food isn’t the only variable, but it’s one over which we have the most control. Knowing which foods cause diarrhea can reduce the risk of developing unpleasant symptoms.

What Causes Diarrhea?

Food and food allergies can be the cause of diarrhea, but they’re certainly not the only ones. The symptoms of diarrhea, like watery stool, cramping, bloating, or rapid bowel movements, are largely consistent no matter what the specific cause is.

The most common causes of diarrhea:

  • Medication
  • Food allergies
  • Bacterial infection (eating with unwashed hands, food poisoning)
  • Intestinal disease
  • Diabetes
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Foods That Can Cause Diarrhea

Foods affect people differently and your food tolerances can change over time. A favorite dish that caused you no trouble for years can suddenly become problematic.

Some food and food ingredients tend to cause diarrhea in more people, however, and it may be worth examining your diet if your symptoms are persistent.

Common Food Triggers (of Diarrhea)


There’s a reason many need to use the bathroom after their morning cup of joe. Along with revving up our nervous system, coffee and other sources of caffeine can also rev up the digestive system and cause rapid and loose bowel movements. There’s evidence that the acids present in coffee can also contribute to the intestinal distress. (Keep your caffeine intake below 400 milligrams and consider reducing your intake as needed to relieve symptoms.)


Dairy products contain lactose, which can be hard to digest. Some individuals may be lactose intolerant, which is the result of the body’s inability to create an enzyme called lactase. You do not need to be lactose intolerant to have digestive issues with dairy, but if the problem seems closely linked, consult your doctor.

Fatty Foods

Creamy, fried, or generally fatty foods can also trigger diarrhea. Fat can be very hard to digest and, if it isn’t broken down completely, can cause your body to secrete fluids that ultimately result in diarrhea. For optimal stomach health, limit the number of fatty foods you eat.


A category of artificial sweeteners known as FODMAPS (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) is difficult to digest and can cause diarrhea and bloating. Certain types of lactose, like that found in dairy, as well as wheat, rye, garlic, and some legumes also qualify as part of this category.


You’ve certainly heard about gluten. Found in wheat and other grains, gluten is a protein can be hard to digest. Certain gluten-related conditions, like celiac disease, pose lasting harm to the small intestine. However, relatively few Americans have celiac disease, and fewer than 1% of individuals globally have a wheat allergy. In many cases, those who believe they have gluten sensitivity are more likely to be suffering symptoms due to FODMAPS. Consult your doctor if you believe you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease.

Spicy Foods

The spices themselves are rarely the cause of digestive distress. In most cases, spicy foods incorporate high fat and oily sauces that can trigger diarrhea. Of course, the spices can make the diarrhea symptoms even more uncomfortable.

How to Treat Diarrhea

Lessen the severity of diarrhea by eating foods that are easy to digest like potatoes, bananas, and rice. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and consider taking over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication containing loperamide or bismuth. These can slow the movement of food through your system, extract more water and balance out fluid distribution in your digestive tract.

If you have chronic diarrhea symptoms that reoccur often – or symptoms that last longer than a few days, consult your doctor. They may recommend learning more, including testing for food allergies or intestinal conditions.

Make Digestive Health a Priority

It’s possible to reduce periods of diarrhea naturally by keeping track of foods or dietary patterns that cause diarrhea and creating new habits. if you’re having digestive issues, make bidets a part of a comprehensive approach to addressing irritation and constipation.

Digestive health is an important barometer of your overall health, so don’t let diarrhea, indigestion, or other issues go untreated.

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