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Can Olive Oil Cause Diarrhea? Here are Two Reasons How

Olive oil is great for salads and as a cooking ingredient. Not only that, but it is healthy for the heart, skin, and body too! But some are curious, can olive oil cause diarrhea? 

Olive oil is an extract of the fruit of Olea europaea or olive tree. It has a yellowish color which ranges from yellow to golden, even greenish. Most of the olive oil supply comes from the Mediterranean Basin although it is also produced in South America, California, and Australia. 

Fun fact: Olive oil is also used in the textile industry, toilet preparations and cosmetics manufacturing, castile soap production and pharmaceutical industry.

There are four different grades of olive oil:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Virgin olive oil
  • Pure or edible
  • Refined or commercial

What’s in it?

Olive oil is mostly made of monounsaturated fat or MUFA and this is the good type of fat that you’d like in your body. MUFA helps lower cholesterol besides controlling insulin levels. Not only that, but it also has omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. But it also has some saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. 

Another good thing about olive oil is that it is loaded with antioxidants. This helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases and fight the oxidation of blood cholesterol.

can olive oil cause diarrhea

It’s all good and dandy, but does olive oil cause diarrhea?

Some people recommend olive oil to relieve constipation. Some researchers found that patients undergoing hemodialysis for kidney disease who took a daily dose of olive oil were effective in improving their constipation symptoms. 

Reason 1: The Strain

If you have too much fatty food, then it strains the digestive system. Among the three macronutrients, fat takes the longest to digest. Different digestive juices have to be released to proceed with breaking down fat. Even if olive oil is mostly made of MUFA, overdosing may lead to an overworked gut and strain.

This strain creates an uncomfortable tummy and may cause you to run to the bathroom to release oily stools. It sometimes leads to diarrhea, nausea and bloating too.

Reason 2: The Local Bacteria

The local gut bacteria, or microbiome, affects the digestion process but can be affected by different factors too. One of the most common changes in the local microbiome is the diet of an individual. The local bacteria have to ferment or eat something to survive.  This is usually a starchy material or a prebiotic. But if you eat fatty or greasy food, or when you have a high-fat diet, it might affect your local bacteria. The microbiome might be displaced by harmful bacteria that thrive on greasy food.

But, some say that the fat in olive oil can help the stool to be softer by keeping in more water and that it has a laxative effect. There is no definitive study correlating the use of olive oil to relieve constipation for healthy individuals, or if it directly causes diarrhea. 

Some recommend taking one tablespoon of olive oil to help relieve symptoms of constipation for healthy adults. More than that and it may lead to diarrhea and cramps.

can olive oil cause diarrhea

The Triggers

There are different triggers for diarrhea such as:

  • Dairy food
  • FODMAPs (Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols)
  • Gluten
  • Fried or fatty food
  • Spicy food
  • Caffeine
  • Preexisting medical conditions
  • Other causes such as poor diet, bacterial infection, excess alcohol consumption

There is a possibility that even if you eat olive oil, other triggers might act in and cause diarrhea. But, can olive oil cause diarrhea? Well, it depends on how your body digests these foods and how your body reacts to it. It is important to observe and identify if you are sensitive to a certain food ingredient. After identifying it, you can then know what measures you can do to counter it or cope with it.

If you want to try out olive oil, use extra virgin olive oil. Remember to be cautious because there are fraudulent sellers that mix the extra virgin olive oil with other oils. Read the label and check the certifications!

Are you a fan of olive oils? Do you know any good vinaigrette recipes for it?

[thrive_toggles_group”][thrive_toggles title=”References” no=”1/1″]https://www.britannica.com/topic/olive-oil https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313416.php#treating_constipation_with_olive_oil https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/olive-oil-for-constipation#1 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-olive-oil#section12 https://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/26/health/five-things-olive-oil/index.html https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-olive-oil https://time.com/4996776/greasy-food-bad-for-you/ https://www.health.harvard.edu/digestive-health/is-something-in-your-diet-causing-diarrhea https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/olive-oil-for-constipation#1 [/thrive_toggles][/thrive_toggles_group]

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Nicole Castaneda - RND

Nicole is a professional Nutritionist-Dietitian who advocates for food variation, moderation and the effect of food choices on the body. She loves to write light and easy to understand articles about food and gut health.

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