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Can Jalapenos Cause Diarrhea? – Don’t Eat Before Reading!

It is true that jalapenos can cause diarrhea, and it is all due to one particular substance that they contain.

Maybe you have experienced volcanic diarrhea for yourself after the consumption of some jalapeno-containing salsa or maybe you have just heard stories about people experiencing explosive poops after eating them.

They are a tasty treat and us humans love our spicy foods, but unfortunately they do have some side effects, which include things like...

  • Burning sensation in mouth and stomach
  • Bloating
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea

The jalapeno is a species of the Capsicum annuum family and is a type of chilli pepper. It ranges in "spiciness" from 3,500 - 8,000 Scoville heat units and this varies a lot depending on how ripe it is when consumed. Most commonly jalapenos are eaten when green, but can also be eaten when more fully ripened in a red, orange or yellow state.

They have a rich history of cultivation and have been used by the Aztecs prior to the Spanish conquest, dating back thousands of years.

* Fun fact: Did you know that humans are the only species that eat spicy foods like jalapenos because they like to? The spice that these peppers possess are supposed to deter consumption.

They Can Cause Diarrhea and Here Is Why...

If you are a big fan of spicy food then you probably know darn well that eating too much spice can send you running to the bathroom at abnormally frequent rates.

There are different types of spices that foods have, but the most common comes from capsaicin, which is the spicy substance that is in peppers like jalapenos. This substance burns the body inside and out, and besides being consumed for pleasure it is also used in self defense sprays like mace and pepper stray for its ability to inflict stinging pain.

This same capsaicin substance is also contained in other peppers of the Capsicum family, at varying levels. Others that have this same substance include...

  • Habanero peppers
  • Banana peppers
  • Serrano peppers
  • And more

*Bell peppers are the only member of this family that don't produce the substance.

Why It Causes Diarrhea..

Capsaicin binds to TRPV1 receptors and activates them. These receptors then give off the signal of pain to the brain, so that you then experience the pain that comes with the spiciness, which might be a good or bad thing depending on if you just ate a delicious chip dipped in salsa or just got sprayed by police officers with pepper spray.

These receptors are all throughout your body and in the intestines they can make your GI system cramp up, leading immediate pooping and volcanic diarrhea.

Any Other Possible Reasons for Diarrhea?

Other than jalapenos containing the spicy capsaisin substance there really isn't much other reason for them to cause diarrhea.

One cup of sliced jalapenos only contains 2.5g of fiber according to the USDA and high amounts of fiber are a common cause of diarrhea. But this amount is pretty low so it rules that out.

They aren't high in fat, high in fructose or other common causes either. 

So really the capsaisin is by far the main cause and there are not any other likely reasons to get diarrhea from consumption other than from the effects caused by this substance.

You Are 92% More Likely To Have Diarrhea If You Eat Spicy Foods

A 2013 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that people who eat spicy foods 10 times or more per week are 92% more likely to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, which include diarrhea.

In this study they looked into the IBS causing ability of peppers, curry, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric.

While this doesn't mean you are 92% more likely to get diarrhea if you eat jalapenos more than 10 times a week in particular and while this study wasn't of the best quality, it goes to show that spicy foods have a profound impact on diarrhea.

Why Diarrhea Caused by Jalapenos Can Be The Worst..

There are lots of causes of diarrhea out there. That caused by the spicy capsaisin substance that jalapenos possess is just one of many.

Fiber is another very common cause, as mentioned earlier. Eating too much fiber can cause your colon to bring in too much water, leading to frequent runny/loose stools, which would probably be the case if you experience diarrhea after eating something like celery.

But jalapeno caused diarrhea can be the worst...

Why?

Well... Because the capsaisin can burn anywhere in your body, including your anus. So not only may you be experience frequent watery poops after eating jalapenos, but they also may burn as they exit your body, which wouldn't happen if it were just diarrhea caused by too much fiber.

How to Eat Jalapenos and NOT Get Diarrhea

It's a pretty well known hack that drinking milk while eating spicy peppers can decrease the spiciness.

This is true and the reason is because, on a chemical level, their are molecules contained in mild that neutralize the capsaicin molecules.

Milk and products derived from milk contain what is called casein protein. These nonpolar molecules are able to surround the capsaicin molecules and wash them away, "in the same way that soap washes away grease" (source: acs.org).

Now the effectiveness of this is questionable. While it does definitely have some proven benefit, you aren't going to be able to eat peppers endlessly without effect.

Just be smart about it. If you have a business presentation to give after lunch then it may not be the best idea to down a bag of torilla chips with some spicy jalapeno salsa, unless you know you can handle it.

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Kyle


Starting his writing career in 2015, Kyle is a leading contributor here at GutAdvisor, and for good reason. Having a passion for health and the awareness that proper digestion plays a key role one's overall well-being, he regularly keeps the community informed with valuable information regarding gut health.

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