Can such innocent little delicious savory snacks really cause such unwanted side effects? What I'm referring to is peanuts... and whether or not cause diarrhea.
No one wants to suffer from diarrhea. It's annoying, uncomfortable, can mess up an entire day's worth of plans, and lets be honest... it's pretty gross. But unfortunately it is something that we all experience from time to time. It is unavoidable and can be caused by a plethora of different things.
Originating in South America, likely around the Peru or Brazil area, these little guys have exploded in popularity and are now used in various dishes across every continent. Not only do they taste delicious but they are also quite healthy. Peanuts are...
- High in protein
- Good source of healthy fat
- Have a fair amount of fiber
- Provide nice amounts of minerals like manganese, magnesium and copper
- High in vitamin E, niacin, thiamin, folate
Now if you are a big fan of peanut butter then you might not be eating quite as healthy as you think. Commercial peanut butters are often high in sugar and other ingredients that make it much more tasty but also take away from the overall healthiness.
But anyways... Yes peanuts can be the cause of diarrhea and here are a handful of ways this may be the case...
6 Ways That Peanuts Can Cause Diarrhea
1. You might have allergies
As we all know, peanut allergies are very common, which is the reason peanut products are not being given out on many planes, in schools and in other public places anymore.
If you are allergic to them you will experience symptoms within minutes according to Mayo Clinic. That's not to say you will get diarrhea that fast but you will start to see some signs.
An allergic reaction is a problem with the immune system. Basically what goes on inside the body is that the immune system sees the proteins of peanuts as being foreign invaders and proceeds to attack, although they pose no threat.
If you do have an allergy you should see a doctor and likely avoid peanuts altogether. There is no way around this really.... or at least there are no definitive treatments for it as of yet.
Some people's allergies can be very severe while other's not so much.
2. You could be intolerant
It is also possible that you could develop diarrhea as a symptom of being intolerant to peanuts. This happens as a result of the small intestines not being able to digest the proteins properly and can lead to irritation of the intestine lining and swelling, which can then lead to gas, bloating, upset stomach and diarrhea.
Some experts will tell you that intolerance to foods can actually be remedied by backing off the particular food and then trying to reintroduce it in very small amounts, slowly allowing your body to build up tolerance.
3. Higher fiber could be to blame
The USDA states that peanuts have 2.4g fiber per ounce. That is a pretty hefty amount and there is no doubt that fiber could play a role in the development of diarrhea after consumption.
Fiber is a very important aid in the digestive process. It isn't going to provide you with any nutritional value but it does help with the break-down of food, helps soften stool and overall just keeps things flowing smoothly.
But too much fiber can cause diarrhea. You want some but not too much.
It is mostly the insoluble fiber that is responsible for such. While soluble fiber can actually help prevent such conditions by absorbing excess water, insoluble fiber can lead to too frequent bowel movements. It's good if you're constipated though!
4. High amounts of fat
High amounts of fat can also cause this problem and peanuts are indeed high in fat, with 1oz (28g) providing about 14g of fat... which means that nearly half of their weight is made up of fat (also from USDA).
Some people have a hard time absorbing fat during digestion and this can lead to increased water being secreted by the colon into the intestines... which means more watery poops.
But as far as health goes it isn't something to worry about too much. Much of the fat, most of it by far, is good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. It's heart-healthy.
5. Lectins Can Cause Digestive Troubles
Peanuts are high in lectins. These are proteins that bind to carbs and can slow digestion by preventing the breakdown of such carbs.
There are different kinds of lectins and luckily peanuts don't contain phytohemagglutinin, which is a lectin that is well known to cause digestive troubles, but the lectins peanuts do have could still cause a bit of trouble, such as diarrhea.
People with conditions like IBS could be triggered more easily by these proteins.
6. Mold... Ewww
This is only going to be a concern if you are eating or preparing raw peanuts. If they are dry roasted there should be no worry.
What I'm talking about here is aflatoxin, which is a toxin produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus that really likes to grow on peanuts if possible. It can cause all sorts of digestion issues as well as other health problems.
Are you eating quality roasted peanuts? Then it's probably not a concern.
For Most People...
Should you be frightened after reading this and avoid peanuts like the plague? Well... probably not.
Most people aren't going to have any problems with peanuts. While peanut allergies are pretty common as far as allergies go and can cause diarrhea, they still only effect a small percentage of people. And the same goes for the other ways that peanuts can possibly cause an uptick in bathroom visit frequency.
Suggestion: If you have never gotten diarrhea from peanuts then keep on eating them. If you do have diarrhea and think it might be from peanuts then try the procedure that follows...
How to Be Sure That Peanuts Are The Cause
A good way to find out what foods are causing certain symptoms is to run an elimination diet.
The way this works is pretty darn simple. What you do is eliminate foods from your diet and see if the symptoms clear up, then slowly introduce them one by one. However, you may have to wait several days after eliminating a food to see any effect... which is where it gets tricky.
You can learn more about how to go about doing this here.
What to Do If It's Serious..
If you do have a serious case of diarrhea that is concerning we highly suggest getting in contact with your doctor. It has the potential to be serious so it's always best to know what exactly is going on and what is causing it.
If you think your diarrhea is being cause by something simple like too much fiber, check out our list of foods that can help.