Foods to avoid if you have diarrhea

If you suffer from diarrhea, gas or irritable bowel symptoms, not all foods are suitable. We present foods that you should never eat when you have diarrhea, as they can make diarrhea worse.

Which foods to eat and which to avoid if you have diarrhea?

In the case of diarrhea, easily digestible foods are particularly indicated, such as carrots and potatoes. However, it also depends on how you prepare these two foods. Because fried potatoes prepared in fat would definitely not be ideal if you have diarrhea, and a cream sauce on carrots would be just as inadvisable as too much seasoning or possibly spiciness.

At the same time, there are certain foods that should be avoided at all costs when you have diarrhea – especially those that can lead to diarrhea attacks even in healthy people, such as: an excess of sugar alcohols (e.g. sorbitol, xylitol, etc.) or cooked sauerkraut. Eating these things when you have diarrhea will unnecessarily delay healing or even worsen the diarrhea.

Since some foods that should be avoided if you have diarrhea (alcohol, meat) are not exactly the healthiest foods, the risk of suffering severe diarrhea attacks is significantly lower in those people who eat healthy.

If you have diarrhea, do not eat or drink these foods

You should avoid the following foods if you have diarrhea, or at least take the advice described into account:

1. Milk and dairy products

Lactose – the milk sugar – is considered a mild laxative. In addition, intestinal infections in particular lead to even less lactase being formed in the intestine than normal. Lactase is the enzyme needed to digest lactose.

Therefore, if you have diarrhea, you should neither drink milk nor eat yoghurt, nor snack on milk chocolate or ice cream, and do not put condensed milk in your coffee – although coffee is just as inappropriate for diarrhea (see below).

Of course, protein shakes made from whey protein are also taboo. Because whey powder is considered the front-runner among the lactose suppliers. In general, everything that contains milk powder in any form is to be avoided. This primarily applies to numerous finished products, such as ready-made sauces, ready-made soups, sweets and much more, which usually contain so many additives anyway that they are anything but ideal foods for an illness such as diarrhea.

Some dairy products — like naturally aged yogurt or hard cheeses — contain little to no lactose, so they could essentially be eaten, but only in low-fat versions. But cheese in particular usually contains a lot of salt, which is contraindicated in the case of diarrhea. Although the body needs a lot of minerals when it has diarrhea, it is certainly not just sodium from common salt, but also potassium and magnesium. However, these two are only present in small amounts in cheese.

NOTE: Raw Milk and its products contain a lot of lactase and most people who can’t handle normal milk products can tolerate raw milk products. Unfortunately, these products are not officially available in Australia.

2. Chilli

Chillies and other hot spices irritate the intestinal mucosa, which is already irritated by diarrhea, even further. Capsaicin – the hot active ingredient in chili – is therefore considered a trigger for diarrhea. There is a particularly large amount of capsaicin in the seeds and skin of the chili, which are both difficult to digest.

In a study published in the journal Neurogastroenterology & Motility in 2007, patients with diarrhea-like irritable bowel syndrome experienced more abdominal cramps and a greater burning sensation in the digestive system after eating chili than healthy controls. So if you suffer from diarrhea, you should leave the Tabasco bottle in the cupboard.

3. Coffee

Many people use their morning coffee as a laxative, so without coffee they would be constipated. In particular, it is caffeine that stimulates intestinal peristalsis and initiates bowel movements. In the case of diarrhea, however, the intestinal peristalsis is almost hyperactive. An additional suggestion is counterproductive here. One would rather have a calming of the peristalsis, which is not possible in the presence of coffee.

In addition, coffee acts as a diuretic and prevents the reabsorption of water from the primary urine in the kidneys. But if you have diarrhea, you’re already fighting dehydration, so you don’t want to lose additional fluids through drinking coffee. Of course, what has been said does not only apply to coffee, but to all caffeinated drinks – and thus also to cola & co as well as to good old black tea, which is considered THE home remedy for diarrhea.

Black tea is only effective because it contains tannins, which have a stronger constipating effect than the caffeine it contains has a laxative effect. But you could also simply consume caffeine-free tanning agents, e.g. with a tormentil or agrimony tea, which is drunk alternately with peppermint or chamomile tea. These two soothe the intestines and at the same time have a somewhat disinfecting effect.

We explained in the article “Remedies against diarrhea“, why coke with salt sticks cannot please a diarrhea-plagued intestine.

4. Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages are also not a good idea if you have diarrhea. Alcohol irritates the mucous membrane in the digestive system, generally makes digestion and nutrient utilization more difficult and also has an extremely negative effect on liver metabolism. In the case of diarrhea in particular, however, one is dependent on an efficient liver, which helps to overcome the infection or chronic condition. Alcohol is also dehydrating, further aggravating the dehydration present in diarrhea.

5. Legumes

Legumes are wonderful foods – but not for diarrhea. Bean stew, lentils and kidney bean salad should therefore be avoided if you have diarrhea. They often cause bloating and, in some people, diarrhea.

However, there are other preparations made from legumes that do not pose a problem with diarrhea, especially not in people who tolerate legumes very well in a healthy state, e.g. soy milk, tofu, protein shakes made from pea protein, hummus or similar.

On the other hand, if you are sensitive to legumes even without diarrhea, you should of course not eat them if you have diarrhea, especially since there are plenty of other foods that have a very positive effect on the intestines if you have diarrhea.

However, as a preventive measure, legumes are a highly recommended food group that supplies the intestines with fiber and many vital substances. For example, we know that the risk of colon cancer decreases if legumes are eaten regularly. Colon polyps are also less common in legume lovers than in people who don’t like legumes that much.

6. Sugar Substitutes

Wherever sugar alcohols – also known as sugar substitutes – are contained (sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, isomalt, etc.), one reads the information that excessive consumption of the corresponding food can lead to diarrhea and flatulence, e.g. with chewing gum, marshmallows, some fruit gums, waffles, chewy sweets, mustard, sauces and some soft drinks etc.

Xylitol and erythritol also belong to the sugar substitutes and lead to flatulence and digestive problems after consumption of individual amounts – for some people this can be as little as 1 teaspoon. It is stronger in xylitol than erythritol.

In the case of diarrhea, sugar substitutes are therefore taboo. For convenience products, always read the list of ingredients and see if they contain sugar substitutes. Because if you accidentally eat them during a bout of diarrhea, it can make your symptoms worse.

7. Nuts and dried fruits

Nuts and dried fruits are high in insoluble fiber, which can make diarrhea worse. Nuts are also difficult to digest and, like dried fruit, very low in liquid. They can cause flatulence, irritate the intestinal mucosa and are not suitable for an intestine stricken with diarrhea.

However, both food groups can also be prepared in a more compatible way. Instead of eating them straight, you could e.g. soak the almonds in water overnight and remove the brown skin. If you now process these almonds into almond milk or eat and chew them very slowly, then this is not likely to be a problem for the intestines.

Likewise, you can soak dried fruits—especially dried blueberries—in water and eat them. Blueberries prepared in this way are even a well-known home remedy for diarrhea (which, by the way, does not apply to fresh blueberries).

Of course, you shouldn’t eat soaked prunes if you have diarrhea, as these are a popular natural laxative.

However, if you have such an appetite during diarrhea that you’re looking for a snack substitute like trail mix, you’re better off eating a banana or a plate of steamed carrots and saving the nut and raisin snack for a healthy time.

8. Meat

If you feel like eating meat when you have diarrhea, you are not really sick (with some exceptions). Meat has an inflammatory effect, is difficult to digest and is considered a risk factor for colon cancer, so it is not a sensible food for the intestines. Meat, sausage & co can also increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and kidney problems. It is therefore best to use diarrhea to switch to a plant-based diet.

9. Fruits

Some fruits cannot be digested well by the intestines if you have diarrhea. Of course, since fruit also promotes bowel movement, it can also somewhat aggravate diarrhea, which grapes can do. Their skin and seeds are difficult to digest and irritate the diseased intestine.

Of course, very sour fruits should also be avoided, as they can increase the burning sensation that is typical of diarrhea.

Bananas or grated apples (with skin) are among the best diarrhea remedies imaginable, together with dried blueberries. Their high pectin content contributes to a firmer stool, reduces inflammation and absorbs excess water.

10. Cabbage

Many people get flatulence and loose stools after eating sauerkraut, and some also get acute, but fortunately only short-term, diarrhea. Sauerkraut should therefore be avoided if you have diarrhea.

However, there is a clear difference between cooked and raw sauerkraut. Cooked sauerkraut often leads to diarrhea and intolerance. Raw sauerkraut, on the other hand, provides living probiotic bacteria and is therefore a real remedy for the intestines – but not in every case of acute diarrhea. Here it depends on the individual tolerance.

Many people also have problems digesting other cabbage vegetables. So if you react with flatulence and diarrhea after eating cauliflower, white cabbage and Brussels sprouts even when you are healthy, then avoid these vegetables if you have diarrhea. They contain hard-to-digest carbohydrates (rhamnose and stachyose). However, people who tolerate cabbage very well can eat steamed cauliflower or broccoli without any problems – even if they have diarrhea.

11. Carbonic Acid

Carbonated drinks can bloat the stomach and intestines and are better avoided if you have diarrhea.

12. Foods containing inulin

Inulin is a dietary fiber and therefore indigestible. It consists of up to 100 fructose molecules that are tightly bound together so that digestive enzymes cannot break them down. Inulin therefore reaches the large intestine unchanged and is processed there by the intestinal bacteria. This leads to the development of gas, which is why many people develop more or less severe flatulence after eating foods containing inulin.

Basically, inulin is a very beneficial substance as it provides nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria. With diarrhea, however, inulin leads to even more flatulence and an even stronger urge to defecate. Jerusalem artichoke and artichokes contain a particularly large amount of inulin, as do onions and leeks – as do some dietary supplements.

Improve diarrhea with the right foods

If you avoid these food groups when you have diarrhea, you are already doing everything you can to not make the diarrhea worse. If you then reach for foods that have a healing effect on the intestines, you will quickly be up to speed again. These include potatoes, carrots, parsnips, pasta, porridge, almond milk, vegetable soups (pureed best), bananas, papayas, avocados, and non-fruit smoothies (e.g. avocado with lettuce).

Drink warm water or the teas mentioned above. Drink it in sips throughout the day. Meals should also be spread out in small doses throughout the day.

Watch your appetite too. Your body often tells you what is best for you when you are ill! And if you don’t have an appetite at all, then fast for a few days, which is a blessing when you have diarrhea and other digestive problems.

We have presented important measures and helpful foods for diarrhea here: Natural measures and remedies for diarrhea

A very good first-aid remedy for diarrhea is also mineral clay like bentonite or zeolite, which absorbs excess fluid, adsorbs bacterial toxins and calms the intestines.

Best home remedy for diarrhea: Moro’s carrot soup

A specially prepared carrot soup is also considered THE remedy for diarrhea of ​​almost any kind. It is Moro’s carrot soup, which was developed by the pediatrician Ernst Moro at the beginning of the 20th century. At that time, when there were no antibiotics, he was able to save the lives of many children with his soup.

Moro’s carrot soup is cooked for at least 1.5 hours. During this time, so-called oligogalacturonic acids are produced in the carrots, which prevent harmful bacteria from attaching themselves to the intestinal mucosa. Instead, the pathogens can now be discharged with the stool – and the cause of the diarrhea is eliminated.

Of course any time you are not well, a colon cleanse (Oxy Powder) or a Colonic can help to eliminate unwanted microbes.

Foods to avoid if you have diarrhea
© ZDG/nigelcrane

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