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DIARRHOEA

Defined as an increase in the frequency of bowel movement or greater looseness of stool, diarrhea could be one of the most embarrassing experiences you will ever have especially when you are in places where a rest room is not accessible. Diarrhea has many causes. It can be due to stress, viral infection, bacteria ingested from food, parasites and food poisoning.  Some foods can also cause diarrhea, especially when taken in amounts way above what is commonly normal. Although these foods are not harmful per se, when taken in large amounts, it will result to the discomforts caused by diarrhea.

1. Fried Foods

Fried foods do not necessarily cause diarrhea. It is the inability to digest and absorb too much ingested fats that causes diarrhea.  Eating fried foods mean there is an increased fat intake.  In order for fats to be absorbed, pancreatic secretions of enzymes responsible for breaking down fats must increase.  But our bodies, particularly our pancreas, cannot sometimes cope with the increase in fat ingestion. This will therefore result to increasing undigested fats.  As the undigested fats pass through the last segment of the small intestines and the colon, bacteria will convert it to chemicals that cause water to be secreted by the intestines. This will therefore result to watery or liquid stools, also described as diarrheal stools.

2. Foods enriched with Fructose

Fructose is sugar or carbohydrates found in fruits and in foods such as corn syrup and soft drinks. Without the aid of digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas, fructose can still be absorbed by the body. However, only 25-50 grams of fructose can be properly absorbed by the body per one sitting. More than that, fructose that is not absorbed passes through the large intestines and, through osmosis, pulls water from the system towards the colon.  This therefore causes watery stools or diarrhea.

3. Too much citrus fruits

Having diarrhea after eating citrus fruits can be due to food poisoning or food allergy. Developing diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting minutes after eating the fruit is due to citrus fruit allergy.  It is best for the person to avoid this food altogether since the body’s immune system will always react against some types of citrus fruits.  If diarrhea develops 4 hours to 36 hours after eating citrus fruits, it can be due to food poisoning.  Bacteria may have been in the fruit which results to symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting.  It is best to visit the emergency room if one develops these.

In normal circumstances, citrus fruits may cause diarrhea if there is mal-absorption of the fruit that is composed of a form of sugar called fructose.  When too much of fructose is not absorbed by the body, it will cause liquid stools, or diarrhea.

4. Artificial Sugar

Artificial sugars, or artificial sweeteners, are sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, erythritol and D-tagatose.  They are all found in packaged foods, such as hard candy, chewing gum, cough drops, and other foods labeled as sugar-free. Ingesting more than 10 grams of sorbitol, for instance, can cause diarrhea.  Sorbitol is a polyalcohol sugar, but it is not absorbed by the body.  It stays at the intestinal lining and causes osmosis. When water is drawn away from the body, it causes a laxative effect, and therefore causing watery stools. 

5. Too much fiber

There are two types of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fibers can be found in legumes, oats, rye, barley, fruits, broccoli, carrots, artichokes, root vegetables and psyllium husks. Insoluble fibers can be found in whole grain foods, wheat and corn bran, nuts and seeds, green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, celery, avocado, bananas and tomatoes.

Dietary fibers change the nature of what is in the gastrointestinal tracts and it also change the absorption of some chemicals. Soluble fiber pulls in water and forms it into a gel inside the intestine. Insoluble fiber acts as a laxative and rapidly passes food through the intestines. Although not detrimental to health, eating too much fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, can cause stools to be soft or diarrheal.

Fiber has been known to promote healthy digestion, bowel elimination and it also aids in the prevention of heart diseases since it “sweeps” away bad cholesterol.  The key here, therefore, is moderation.

6. Too many beans

Beans itself does not cause diarrhea. It is eating excessive servings of beans that cause this uncomfortable symptom. The reason for this is the amount of fiber that is consumed.  Beans are rich in fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, which has natural laxative effect and allows speedy passage of stools.

7. Too many Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are generally from the family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae. Cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli and other similar vegetable are called cruciferous vegetables. These are healthy foods and can provide the nutrients needed by the body, especially vitamins and minerals.

But since this type of foods is usually eaten raw, it causes reactions such as bloating and eventually, diarrhea. Cruciferous vegetables act as a stimulant in the digestive tract. As soon as these foods reach the intestines, there is an increase of motility and peristalsis of the organs of the digestive tract.  When there is an increase in motility, foods can move fast towards the end of the digestive tract.  There is also an increase of intestinal osmosis, where water is pulled from the body towards the colon.  These two systems cause stools to be liquid, watery and there is increase in the frequency of the bowel movement.

Yet again, the important factor to consider in the intake of cruciferous vegetables is the amount that we consume.

8. Dairy Products (especially for the lactose-intolerant)

Dairy products, particularly milk and milk products have the tendency to promote diarrhea.  This is due to the inability of the body’s digestive tract to absorb milk sugar, called lactose. Those who are lactose intolerant are susceptible to diarrhea caused by the ingestion of milk and its products. But normal people also have occasions where they have diarrhea due to dairy products.  When lactose is not broken down due to the absence or lack of lactase, an enzyme produced by the pancreas, lactose will not be absorbed by the body.  Lactose, which is undigested, will move towards the large intestine.  Through the process of osmosis, lactose will pull water to the colon.  This will result to watery stools, and therefore, abnormal or diarrheal stools.

 

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