Category Archives for Diarrhea

4 Reasons Cheerios Can Cause Diarrhea

You asked and we're here to answer: Can Cheerios cause diarrhea?

The short answer is Yes, they can.

Cheerios is a brand of the behemoth General Mills company. The cereal was first produced in 1941 and was originally called CheeriOats, but later changed to Cheerios after changing the cereal shape to that of an "o".

Generally speaking the cereal is at the top of the list when it comes to health benefits, and certainly is a better choice than competitors like Fruity Pebbles and Captain Crunch.

Cheerios Nutrition

Cheerios is made of 100% whole grain oats, has only 1g of sugar per serving (for Original flavor), has been made "gluten-free" since 2015, and stopped the used of GMOs a year prior.

Oats are naturally gluten-free. The reason the cereal was never labeled as such is because of the manufacturing process and how the farmers who they obtain their oats from rotate crops with wheat, barley, etc. which have gluten that gets mixed in with the oats on some level. Now, however, they have implemented new procedures and sifting processes to make sure only oats, gluten-free, make it into the Cheerios cereal.

Diarrhea is a common symptom experience by those who are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease and eat gluten in their diets. The choice of General Mills to go gluten-free was a good one.

However, there are other reasons Cheerios can cause diarrhea. 

First we need to take a look at the nutrition facts and ingredients to see what exactly we are eating.

Original Cheerios Nutrition Label

Original

Honey Nut Cheerios Nutrition Label

Honey Nut

The nutrition facts do differ depending on the flavor, but not very much for the two most popular of the Cheerios: Original and Honey Nut...

  • Total Fat: 2g [Original], 1.5g [Honey Nut]
  • Cholesterol: 0mg [Original], 0mg [Honey Nut]
  • Sodium: 180mg [Original], 160mg [Honey Nut]
  • Potassium: 180mg [Original], 115mg [Honey Nut]
  • Total Carbohydrate: 20g [Original], 22g [Honey Nut]
    • Dietary Fiber: 3g [Original], 2g [Honey Nut]
      • Soluble Fiber: 1g [Original], <1g [Honey Nut]
    • Sugars: 1g [Original], 9g [Honey Nut]
  • Protein: 3g [Original], 2g [Honey Nut]
Original Cheerios Ingredients

Original

Honey Nut Cheerios Ingredients

Honey Nut

  • Original Cheerios Ingredients: Whole grain oats, corn starch, sugar, salt, Tripotassium phosphate, vitamin E.
  • Honey Nut Cheerios Ingredients: Whole grain oats, sugar, oat bran, corn starch, honey, brown sugar syrup, salt Tripotassium phosphate, canola oil, natural almond flavor, vitamin E.

A nice healthy list of ingredients (excluding the sugars) indeed... but there are some reasons some people might come down with a case of diarrhea after consuming such.

4 Potential Causes of Diarrhea

1. Not Much Fiber

Fiber is very important for proper digestion, but having too much or too little can cause diarrhea and other digestive issues.

The Original flavor contains 3g of fiber while the Honey Nut variety only contains 2g. This comes form the whole wheat oats and corn start which is contained in both, as well as the oat bran contained in some of the Cheerios varieties.

The problem here however isn't that there is too much fiber, but rather a lack of it. The FDA recommends 25g of fiber per day (based on a 2,000 calorie diet) and 2 - 3g isn't helping reach this number much, especially when considering that only about 5% of Americans get enough fiber.

Generally speaking, having too much insoluble fiber or not having enough soluble fiber can lead to diarrhea. There isn't too much insoluble fiber here, but there is very little soluble fiber, 1g or less, which is a type of fiber that can absorb water multiple times its weight, helping to firm up loose stool.

When you couple this with the fact that most people eat cereal with milk, which has no fiber, this isn't a very good start to a fiber-rich day and could lead to diarrhea.

2. Sugars

Having too much sugar can be a common cause of diarrhea. Too much sugar from foods causes more water to be pulled into the intestines to balance out the solute (sugar), and this can lead to watery stools.

The Cheerios Original formulation only contains 1g of sugar, however, the Honey Nut variety and many of the other flavors have much more. For example, Honey Nut has 9g of sugar per serving and Cheerios Protein has 16-17g... a huge difference!

Some of the Cheerios varieties, such as Honey Nut, also has fructose. About half of the sugar in honey is from fructose and this sugar is particularly difficult for the body to digest efficiently. Fructose malabsorbance is the name for this condition and the Genetics Home Reference estimates about 40% of people have in the western hemisphere, at least to some extent. This is one of the common reasons people experience diarrhea after eating high-fructose fruits such as grapes, watermelon, strawberries, etc.

3. Irritation of Intestines 

The intestines can become irritated for various reasons. Spicy foods may cause irritation for some, fiber for others. When irritated this can cause the muscles of the intestines to contract more rapidly to try to get rid of the irritant, thus leading to diarrhea.

Some sources will tell you that oat-bran, one of the ingredients in many of the Cheerios flavors, is good for diarrhea. This is true to some extent. After all, oat-bran does contain the soluble fiber beta-glucan. However, oat-bran could possibly be an irritant to some people. This is possibly because oat-bran comes from the outer shell of oat seeds, which as you would expect is more fibrous and hard--and it is thought that this could irritate the lining of the intestines.

In particular, people with IBS may want to avoid bran. There hasn't been much research into it, but a study in the 1990's found oat-bran made IBS symptoms worse for 55% of patients and better for only 10%.

4. Intolerance and Allergies

Even without gluten there is still the possibility that you could have an oat allergy, or be slightly intolerant to oats.

There is a protein in oats called avenin, which is known to cause problems for some people. Whether you are have a minor intolerance to this protein or are full-blown allergic, both of which conditions can lead to a variety of symptoms...irritated itchy skin, rashes, runny nose, nausea, vomiting and possibly diarrhea.

In the case of an allergy, the body mistakes this avenin protein for an unwanted intruder that might cause harm. Although there is no real threat, the immune system takes action and creates anti-bodies to attack it.

The Takeaway

Generally speaking, Cheerios are on the more healthy side of breakfast cereals. While "processed whole grains" might be a more accurate ingredient listing on their boxes, and while a fresh bowl of oatmeal is likely a better choice... the company still does a good job at keeping things semi-healthy... at least for the non-high sugar Cheerios varieties.

But diarrhea is a possibility and the 4 causes listed above should be considered. Gluten is another possibility. A 2017 study by Nima (after Cheerios began to be labeled "gluten-free") found gluten in 12.5% of samples tested. And, the Canadian Celiac Association even warned caliac sufferers about consuming such because of the level of difficulty that comes from the removal of gluten-containing grains--since the whole oats that General Mills gets comes from farms that rotate crops. That said, Cheerios are tested by the company to be below the FDA required 20ppm to be able to be called "gluten-free".

In other words... there is still gluten, just hardly any.

Recommended: Foods to Eat When You Have Diarrhea

Now It's Your Turn: What has your experience with Cheerios been like? Leave your comments below! We like to hear back from our readers 🙂

Can Splenda Cause Diarrhea? – What You Should Know

You asked and we're here to answer: Can Splenda cause diarrhea?

The debate and controversy surrounding the safety of Splenda and its affects on health are ongoing, but there it seems that the number of anti-Splenda advocates are growing with the current trend to a more natural diet.

In this article we'll be taking a look at how this artificial sweetener passes through the body and more than one reason it could cause diarrhea... which is a side-effect that has been reported.

What Exactly Is Splenda?

splenda

Splenda is that brand-name for an artificial sugar substitute that is 600 times sweeter than sugar, is considered a "no calorie" sweetener, and is composed of 3 ingredients: sucralose, maltodextrin, and dextrose.

Sucralose is the substance behind its incredible sweetness, which maltodextrin and dextrose are said to be "bulking ingredients" [source: Splenda.com/faqs]. 

While this popular sugar substitute is considered "no calorie", it does actually contain a small amount from the maltodextrin and dextrose... but because there are so few the FDA allows for the labeling of "no calorie".

How It's Made

Sucralose is the only ingredient that is "made". It is an artificial ingredient that is made from sugar. The patented process starts out with normal sugar molecules and replaces three hydrogen-oxygen groups with three chlorine atoms.

sucralose

Sucralose Molecule

The result of this process is a molecule that, because of it's unnaturalness, isn't broken down by the body and provides no calories.

Is It Safe?

While it is claimed to cause upset stomach, boating, gas and diarrhea for some people, it is considered safe if consumed in normal doses.

Spenda is approved in over 80 countries and was first approved by the FDA in the US in 1998. 

There have been numerous studies on its safety which have shown it to be well tolerable, such as a 13-week study with adult volunteers given up to 10mg of sucralose per kilogram of body-weight per day without any adverse effects. However, there is still some controversy here and many natural health advocates will tell you to ditch the artificial sweeteners.

Splenda & Digestion

Splenda largely passes through the body without doing anything. It is not recognized by the body as a carbohydrate and is not metabolized. 

About 85% passes through the body unchanged and leaves in the stool, while a small percentage is absorbed and later excreted through urination.

A Cause for Diarrhea?

The fact that sucralose, the main ingredient in Splenda, is not digestible by the body is what lead many to believe is the cause for upset stomach, boating, diarrhea, etc.

After all, people who aren't able to digest lactose and fructose effectively have diarrhea as a common outcome of eating foods rich in such compounds.

According to Columbia University, sucralose and other artificial sweeteners are notorious for laxative effects, such as diarrhea and gas.

But why is this?

Well, the studies are lacking in this particular area, but there are several possibilities.

3 Reasons Splenda May Cause Diarrhea

#1 - Intestinal Inflammation

In a 6 week study in which mice were fed Splenda, it was found to increase microbial dysbiosis and Crohn's-like disease, which is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease that patients often experience diarrhea from. The pro-inflammatory enzyme myeloperoxidase was also found at increased levels, which is thought to be the result of the increased amounts of E. coli.

#2 - Harmful Gut Microbiota Effects

The study mentioned above found that Splenda causes a disruption of the microbiome of the gut in mice, Other studies have found similar results.

A 2018 study in PLOS One found that non-nutritive sweeteners such as Splenda have bacteriostatic effects and disrupt the gut microbiota, and a 2008 study from the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found Splenda to cause a "reduction in beneficial fecal microflora", among other negative side effects.

Ingesting probiotics to stop diarrhea is becoming increasingly common, and has some proven effectiveness. Probiotics are "good" but bacteria so it makes sense that a disruption in gut flora and a killing of "good" gut bacteria from Splenda could potentially lead to GI tract problems like diarrhea.

#3 - Maybe It Doesn't..?

It could be possible that Splenda gets blamed for side-effects caused by other ingredients, such as sugar alcohols often included in splenda-containing foods/drinks, which are known to cause stomach issues.

Sugar alcohols are neither sugars or alcohols. They occur naturally and are used as sweeteners as well, but are also known to cause bloating, diarrhea, etc. because they are not well absorbed during digestion and ferment in the intestines--one of the reasons the protein-packed nutritional Quest Bars may cause diarrhea for some.

The Takeaway

While Splenda has been found to be "safe" by the FDA and is approved in over 80 countries, what is considered "safe" by some may not be considered "safe" by others.

Splenda has been well proven to kill good gut bacteria, was found to increase intestinal inflammation, and there are other less proven reasons why it may lead to gastrointestinal distress and possibly diarrhea.

To make matters worse, according to MayoClinic using "no calorie" sugar substitutes such as Splenda tricks your body and might actually make you hungrier and lead to eating more... defeating the purpose of using a "no calorie" sweetener in the first place.

Now it's your turn: What are your experiences with Splenda and what do you think about it?

We love to hear back from our readers 🙂

Recommended: What to Eat to Stop Diarrhea and Foods for a Healthy Gut Flora

Can Quest Bars Cause Diarrhea? – 5 Reasons Why They Can

People have been asking and we're here to answer: Can Quest bars cause diarrhea?

There have been numerous postings online from people who claim to have experienced diarrhea as a result of eating the highly popular, protein packed, Quest bars.

After doing a Google search you will come across posts like this, which probably isn't too settling...

screenshot

But is it actually the Quest bar itself that is causing such unwanted frequent, and often loud, bathroom visits?

And if so, why is this happening?

Quest Bar Nutrition

Quest Nutrition, the company behind it all, was recently acquired the US food giant Simply Good Foods. They started out in 2010 with protein bars devised from one of the co-founders' wife's recipe, whom was working as a fitness trainer.

They make a variety of different health products nowadays ranging from Quest Protein Shakes to Quest Protein Chips, but the Quest Protein Bars are still some of the most popular. 

There are dozens of different flavors of Quest Protein Bars and because of this their nutrition will vary. Cookies & Cream, Blueberry Muffin, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, S'Mores, Chocolate Peanut Butter, etc...

quest protein bars

But for the sake of simplicity, lets take a look at the popular Cookies & Cream flavor....

Quest Protein Bar Nutrition Cookies and Cream

*Note: Nutrition facts may vary slightly as Quest tinkers with their formulation.

The nutrition facts here remain fairly steady among the flavors. What you can typically expect is:

  • Total Fat: 6 - 9g
  • Total Carbs: 20 - 25g (most of which is fiber)
  • Protein: 20 - 21g

But these numbers really don't tell you much of anything. What you have to look at is the list of ingredients and where some of these numbers might be coming from.

screenshot

Of these ingredients there are some that stand out as possible problems. These include Protein Blend, Fiber, Almonds, Erythritol, and sucralose, which brings us to 5 reasons Quest bars could be causing you to spend more time on the toilet.

5 Reasons It Could Give You "Explosive Diarrhea"

1) High Fiber Content

Quest bars are high in fiber, usually containing anywhere from 13g to 17g per bar.

The daily recommended intake is 25 - 30g, which means that one single bar is already providing about 50% of your daily need. So if you already get enough fiber from other foods in your diet then this could certainly result in excess.

Fiber can be both good and bad for diarrhea. Generally speaking, too much insoluble fiber is a common cause. This type of fiber is not soluble in water and goes through the digestive system unscathed. It adds bulk to stool and can increase transit time, helping to "flush your system".

We know that Quest Protein Bars contain the insoluble, prebiotic fiber Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (IMO for short) from the ingredient list, which is actually marketed as a sweetener usually because of it's sweet flavor. This fiber provides food for good gut bacteria and can absorb water helping to prevent diarrhea... but we don't know how much of the fiber content this makes up.

2) Artificial Sweeteners

Not every flavor Quest Protein Bar contains sucralose, but most do.

Sucralose, aka Splenda, is an artificial sweetener that has 0 calories and is a massive 600 times sweeter than sugar. However, the downside is that it is artificial and, although approved by the FDA, does bring some side effects such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

The reason sucralose/Splenda causes gas and diarrhea is thought to be due to the fact that about 85% isn't absorbed (source: Food Insight) during digestion and some is fed on by gut bacteria, which produce nitrogen gas in return.

It's also worth noting that Splenda kills good gut bacteria, something found in more than one study.

3) Sugar Alcohols 

Nearly all flavors of these protein bars contain a sugar alcohol called Erythritol, which is used as a sweetener and is neither a sugar or alcohol, contrary to what the name might suggest.

Erythritol is found naturally in grapes, watermelon, peaches, and other fruits... and is a low-calories substitute for sugar.

Being that it's natural is good and all, but it has been found to give some people headaches, stomachaches, and diarrhea.

This is also caused by incomplete digestion and then later fermentation by gut bacteria in the intestines, just like sucralose.

In one study published in the Journal of Nutrition Science and Vitaminology erythritol was given to 55 adults at increasing dosages to see how much people can handle before getting diarrhea. The dose at which erythritol is safe stops at around 0.46g/kg of BW for men and 0.68g/kg of BW for women, meaning that a 155 pound person can handle about 32 - 48 grams.

This is a heck of a lot, but when coupled with other potential causes, such as sucralose, the amount needed is likely less.

4) Lactose Intolerance

About 65% of the population is lactose intolerant, but this statistic, while true, doesn't paint a very clear picture because the rates of this intolerance very greatly in different parts of the world.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk, or milk products... and Quest bars have Milk Protein Isolate and Whey Protein Isolate, both of which can have lactose at varying levels.

People who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme needed to digest this sugar and this is what causes diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain, gas, etc.

5) Protein Allergies and Intolerance

There is also a chance that diarrhea could stem from an allergic reaction, which more than one ingredient on the list could lead to.

Milk allergy is extremely common in young children with about 3% of people under 4 years of age being affected. Most people grow out of this allergy, but some still may have the problem into adulthood.

The problem here is much different from that of lactose intolerance, as it involves the immune system. What happens is your body sees one or more of the proteins in milk as a threat and the immune system responds accordingly, although there is no real threat. It is basically a false alarm that beings about symptoms of illness.

As we know, these protein bars do contain milk protein.

The almonds that are often in the list of ingredients could also cause an allergic reaction leading to diarrhea--and obviously peanuts could be a potential cause of allergic reactions if you are eating any of the peanut butter flavored Quest bars.

Almond allergies make up about 9 - 15% of all tree nut allergies in the US (source: Journal of Asthma and Allergy) and peanut allergies affect about 1.2% of the entire US population (source: AJMC).

If either of these are the causes of diarrhea then the affected individual will notice symptoms consuming other milk-derived products and/or almonds/peanuts.

The Easy, Often Effective, Solution

If you really, really want to eat Quest Protein Bars but get diarrhea from them, there may be an easy solution.

Maybe you bought an entire box of them and don't want to waste your money, or maybe you just really like the taste... but your gut doesn't. The reason doesn't matter.

The easy and free solution is to simply eat them more slowly. If the diarrhea from eating these bars is stemming from there being an overload of fiber, the artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, or even lactose intolerance, then just slowing down the consumption rate could do the trick. This will give your body more time to handle less of whatever the problem may be.

So limit yourself to 1 bar at a time, and if this has been giving you problems then consume that 1 bar slower. If this doesn't seem to help then you may also want to incorporate more foods that help prevent diarrhea into your diet.

*If you are allergic then this likely won't help.

The Takeaway

Overall Quest Protein Bars are a fairly health choice when it comes to the protein bar market. They contain mostly natural ingredients and can be a lifesaver when you are in a rush but need to get your dose of protein packed nutrition to stay in shape and build muscle. 

But just because they are generally healthy doesn't mean they won't give you diarrhea. This is a fairly common side effect potentially caused by a number of things, the high amount of fiber likely being the most prevalent... which can often be remedied by simply slowing down Quest Protein Bar consumption.

Now it's your turn: What has your experience been eating Quest Protein Bars?

Can BOOST Cause Diarrhea? – Prepare the Toilet

BOOST is supposed to "boost" your health and energy levels, which is why it's called a "nutritional energy drink". The original formulation provides 26 vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and a nice dose of protein... similar to Ensure.

This is great and all, but the concern is that BOOST causes diarrhea, which would defeat the purpose of supplementing a nutrition drink like this in the first place. Some of the reported side effects of BOOST include stomach pain, boating, and diarrhea.

Diarrhea leads to a loss of fluids and nutrients that are important for health, which often results in weakness, fatigue, and overall worse health... if it continues for an extended period of time.

Most reports don't provide much information such as the specific type of BOOST that led to diarrhea, but it appears that more than one of their products cold lead to this unwanted side effect.

The Nestle brand has a variety of different products under the BOOST label, for different consumer needs.

  • BOOST High Protein - For increased protein intake.
  • BOOST Original - For extra energy.
  • BOOST Plus - For weight gain.
  • BOOST Glucose Control - For people with diabetes.
  • BOOST Calorie Smart - For less calories/sugar.
  • BOOST Max Nutritional Shake - For very high protein.
  • BOOST Kid Essentials - Complete nutritional drink for kids.
  • BOOST Optimum - For high protein and increased energy.

BOOST Nutrition

As you already know, BOOST drinks are packed with ingredients. This is the reason it is often looked at as an easy meal replacement... because it basically is. You get your protein, carbs, fats, 26 vitamins, minerals, and a good amount of antioxidants from the long list of ingredients from BOOST Original...

BOOST Original Ingredients

However, the contents between the different BOOST drinks vary.

As you can see below with the side-by-side comparison of BOOST Original, BOOST Plus, and BOOST Higher Protein, the nutritional information differs in many areas.

While BOOST Original only has 4g of fat, BOOST Plus has 14g of fat!
And while BOOST Plus has 45g of carbs, BOOST High Protein has only 28g of carbs...

Boost Nutrition Information

It matters what type of BOOST you are drinking. There can be different causes of diarrhea depending on which type you consume and reasons for diarrhea that could come from any product in their line-up.

8 Reasons BOOST Could Cause Diarrhea

With so many ingredients there is a lot of room for something to go wrong. Here are 8 reasons BOOST can cause diarrhea, starting with the most likely...

1. Drinking Too Fast

Consuming anything too quickly can lead to an upset stomach and the possibility of diarrhea. The thing about nutritional drinks like BOOST is that most people don't realize they are drinking them too fast.

With 26 vitamins, antioxidants, and a good amount of protein that the Original formula brings to the table, that is a lot for your body to digest... and because it is liquid the process happens faster, which can overwhelm the digestive system. Some of the other BOOST formulas are thicker and provide even more than the Original.

The solution is simple... slow down your drinking. Don't guzzle them all at once.

2. Lactose Intolerance

Most BOOST products are suitable for those who are intolerant to lactose, however, not all are.

BOOST Glucose Control and their different high protein drinks and mixes all contain lactose, which is a sugar from milk. 

If you read the labels of these drinks/mixes you will see "milk protein concentrate" and/or "milk protein isolate", which is where the lactose is coming from.

According to the Genetics Home Reference about 65% of the entire human population has a decreased ability to digest lactose. Levels of this decreased ability vary greatly, but can potentially lead to diarrhea when consuming milk products that contain it.

3. High Amounts of Fats

This obviously isn't going to apply to the BOOST Original (only 4g of fat in an 8oz bottle) and some of the other low-fat varieties, but some BOOST drinks, such as BOOST Plus have high amounts of fat (14g per 8oz bottle).

We all need fat, but getting a lot at one time can potentially have a laxative effect for some of us. Not only does fat act as a lubricant, to some extent, that can speed up bowel movement transit times, but if your body has trouble absorbing fat then this can lead to the colon and small intestines secreting excess water... potentially causing diarrhea (Source: Every Day Health).

4. Sweeteners & Sugar

You will have to read the labels of the BOOST you are drinking beforehand. Some contain sucralose, aka Splenda.

Splenda is about 600 times sweeter than sugar, is 0 calories, and is approved by the FDA, so why not include it here, right?

While it won't cause any noticeable adverse effects for most people other than a slightly bad aftertaste, too much can lead to an upset stomach, bloating, and diarrhea for a small percentage of us... not to mention that it is known to harm good gut bacteria.

The good news its that not many BOOST products contain this artificial sweetener.

Many of the drinks contain the natural 0 calorie sweetener Stevia along with sugars. However, high amounts of sugar are also known to cause diarrhea--which is often due to increased water being pulled into the intestines.

With as much as 20g of sugar in a 8oz bottle of BOOST Original and higher amounts in some of the other formulations, this could potentially be a cause of diarrhea.

5. Fructose Intolerance

Not all BOOST drinks have it, but some do. The Original formula, for example, has what are called Fructooligosaccharides (FOS for short) which are made up of mainly of fructose and occur naturally in foods like bananas, garlic, and leeks.

They are not digestible and because of this are considered soluble fiber, similar to inulin. 

Soluble fiber is normally good for diarrhea. It helps to absorb excess water in the colon and can help firm up stool. However, because this type of soluble fiber is composed of fructose molecules so there is another potential outcome.

Fructose is hard to digest and many people have what is called fructose intolerance, aka fructose malabsorption. This is the name of the condition when your intestinal cells aren't able to break down fructose efficiently... potentially leading to gas, bloating, and diarrhea. 

This is one reason watermelon, grapes, strawberries, and lots of other fruits high in fructose may also cause diarrhea.

6. Soy Lecithin

Lecithin is something else that you could be intolerant to. WebMD states that it is likely safe for most people, but can cause diarrhea, nausea, and the feeling of being full.

This fat is found in many foods, such as egg yolks, red meat, green vegetables, etc. and is essential in our bodies' cells. The problem (many believe) may have to do with it usually being made from modified soy or possibly from the chemical extraction process of other ingredient that go into making it.

When it comes to additives in foods/drinks, it is usually added in as an emulsifier, or lubricant--and in this case it is contained in some, but not all, BOOST products (is included in the 'original' formula).

*Soy lecithin is considered low FODMAP for all IBS sufferers out there. This is due to it being a mixture of fat and oil, not carbs.

7. Carrageenan

Carageenan is an additive that is extracted from seaweed and then processed, then being used as an emulsifier and thickening agent.

Most BOOST drinks contain this ingredient and it is said to cause diarrhea, being a particular threat to IBS patients.

It is also said to lead to inflammation in the body due to its chemical structure, which may trigger Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

8. Galactosemia

On some BOOST drinks you may see it written that they are "not for individuals with galactosemia", but what exactly does this mean?

Galactose is a molecule found in lactose that may still be left behind in minuscule amounts even with foods/drinks are "suitable for lactose intolerance"... which may not be okay for people with galactosemia.

The disorder is very rare and causes problems being able to metabolize galactose.

Diarrhea is one of the early signs of this condition.

Is BOOST Healthy?

According to Stacey Nelson, a dietitian from Massachusetts General Hospital, nutrition shakes such as BOOST contain more than just health ingredients--but can still be a good choice if you are in a bind or can't eat solid food due to a medical reason (source: Harvard Health Publishing).

So they are better than nothing, but a real, healthy meal would ultimately be the better choice.

While BOOST boasts about providing loads of vitamins, minerals, hefty amounts of protein, etc.... it also often provides processed ingredients that can cause minor problems.

The Takeaway

BOOST can be a good source of quick and easy nutrition on the go, but can cause diarrhea for some people.

There are a variety of BOOST drinks that contain a variety of ingredients... which is why there is a variety of reasons BOOST could give you frequent runs to the toilet--some of the most common being that you are drinking too fast, lactose intolerance, high amounts of fats, and artificial sweeteners + high amounts of sugar... and some other less-likely reasons.

Should you avoid BOOST? 

If you are positive that it is BOOST that is leading to diarrhea then you should stop drinking it. This would just defeat the purpose because it would be leading to wasted nutrients leaving your body without being absorbed or digested properly.

However, it may be worth a try switching to other products in the BOOST lineup. We would also suggest eliminating it from your diet and then reintroducing it as outlined in with the elimination diet.

And if your diarrhea is serious it is always advisable to contact your doctor.

Recommended: What to Eat to Stop Diarrhea

We like to hear from our readers. Please leave your comments/questions below 🙂

Potassium and Diarrhea – What to Know

What is the relationship of potassium and diarrhea? Is it a cause?.. a cure? Let's find out...

Potassium... it's one of the most important minerals we get in our diets and not getting the right amount could kill us... literally... imbalances of potassium in the blood are linked to, at worst, heart attacks.

But the point here isn't to scare you. This is extremely rare.

The point is that we all need potassium and it is incredibly important, but hardly any of us get enough. In fact, only about 2% of Americans get the recommended daily amount of 3,500mg to 4,700mg, which means that a whopping 98% of us need more in our diets.

It's found in every cell in the body and functions as an electrolyte that helps generate an electrical charge. This helps keep the heart beating steady, muscles contracting when called upon, and it even helps keep the body's water levels balanced, among many other important functions.

You can thank all of the processed foods that are sold in American supermarkets for their being 98% of us not getting enough. Various fruits and vegetables are what provide omnivores like us with natural potassium, but how many of us actually get enough of these foods? Obviously not many.

This then leads many of us on a short journey to the drugstore to pick up some potassium supplements, which then potentially cause the unwanted side effect of diarrhea for some of the more unlucky individuals out there.

Potassium as a Cause of Diarrhea

WebMD states that potassium supplemented orally is "likely safe" when taken in amounts up to 100 mEq, but can cause an upset stomach,  nausea, diarrhea, etc. for some people... although unlikely.

RXList lists diarrhea as one of the most common adverse side effects of the popular Klor-Con (brand-name for potassium chloride) tablets which are commonly supplemented by those with a deficiency in this mineral--and LiveStrong also states that diarrhea and abdominal cramping are very common when it comes to side effects. Another potential side-effect of the drug tingling in the hands/feet.

Some sources claim that the diarrhea is due to irritation of the GI tract. When the inside lining of the intestines becomes irritated it can trigger a reaction where the muscles in the intestines squeeze too hard, making the digested food move faster than normal and causing gas/diarrhea.

The Conundrum

For the unfortunate few that develop diarrhea as a result of taking potassium supplements it may seem like all hope is lost.

There is a good chance you are supplementing potassium due to loss of fluids from diarrhea in the first place--loss of fluids from diarrhea, vomiting, excess sweating, etc. are common examples that lead to low levels of potassium.

So you could be taking potassium because of diarrhea... but then taking the potassium could lead to more diarrhea.

What should you do?

If you do develop diarrhea from taking potassium supplements then it is suggested that you try taking them with meals, rather than on an empty stomach. Spreading out your supplementation throughout the day is also said to help. 

It is also a good idea to try to get more potassium from natural sources instead of resorting to synthetic supplements, which we'll discuss in a minute.

Risk Factors

If you are going to take potassium supplements you should always ask your doctor beforehand if you have a health condition.

Oral supplements are known to stir up problems for those who have gastroesophageal reflux disease, and IBS.

Hypokalemia and Hyperkalemia

You want the body to maintain a specific amount of potassium in the blood stream, anywhere from 3.6 - 5.2 mmol/L (source: Healthline). This obviously isn't going to be possible if you aren't getting enough in your diet, but if you are eating too much then your body will filter out the excess--or should filter out the excess.

Hypokalemia is diagnosed when blood-potassium levels are below 3.6 mmol/L... and this is when you don't have enough potassium. Common causes are loss of fluid from vomiting, diarrhea, or even excess sweating--which is why you often see athletes consuming bananas after training to replenish potassium levels and why Gatorade often has added electrolytes.

Certain drugs can also cause an increased loss of potassium, such as prednisone.

Constipation is actually a common side effect of not getting enough potassium due to the smooth muscle of the intestines not functioning as it should. Other common side effects include cramps, muscle weakness, myalgia and tremors.

Hyperkalemia, or too much potassium, is often related to the kidneys and includes kidney failure and kidney disease. This is diagnosed when levels in the blood are higher than 5.2 mmol/L.

For people without kidney problems eating a lot of bananas and other foods high in potassium likely won't be a problem, but those who don't have healthy kidneys will have to keep a closer eye on their consumption. 

The kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood and when they aren't functioning properly this can lead to a buildup of potassium in the bloodstream to levels that are considered too high, even when eating a diet that isn't considered to be high in the mineral. In these cases the kidneys simply cannot filter out the excess.

The saying of how eating more than six bananas at once can kill you is potentially true.

But what does this have to do with diarrhea?

Well, this condition can potentially stimulate intestinal motility and lead to watery diarrhea, as it likely did for 4 patients admitted to the hospital with hyperkalemia and watery diarrhea, published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

However, this side effect seems to be rare and not talked about all that much.

Getting Potassium Naturally

If you have kidney problems or other conditions that may effect potassium levels then you need to talk with your doctor. But as for the majority of people potassium levels can be healthily maintained naturally.

Foods that naturally contain the mineral include:

And there are plenty of other good, natural sources. Sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, oranges, and a variety of leafy greens also provide good levels of potassium.

Many fruits are also good sources of soluble fiber, which can help absorb water and firm up loose stool, which is why bananas and oranges are on our list of fruits that help with diarrhea--and both have good levels of potassium.

Remember, you are shooting for about 3,500mg - 4,700mg per day.

The Takeaway

  • Potassium is an extremely important mineral that most people don't get enough of.
  • Potassium supplementation can cause diarrhea.
  • Potential solutions are to take potassium supplements with food and in lesser amounts more frequently throughout the day--or to get more potassium through natural sources.
  • Diarrhea and loss of fluids in general are often causes of hypokalemia (potassium deficiency)
  • Hyperkalemia (to much potassium) can potentially lead to diarrhea.
  • Natural potassium sources such as bananas, avocados, spinach, broccoli, etc. are often recommended and sometimes work best.

Recommended: Foods to eat and to avoid when you have diarrhea

Please leave any comments/questions below. We like feedback from our readers 🙂

Yogurt and Diarrhea – A Cause or Cure?

Some people claim yogurt helps diarrhea while others claim it's a cause... so what exactly is the relationship of yogurt and diarrhea?

Well, it's a bit more complicated than providing a Yes or No answer to the question of whether or not it causes cases of frequent trips to the toilet.

While yogurt is often promoted as a natural remedy to diarrhea due to its probiotic content, people who have certain conditions may actually get diarrhea due to some of the other contents yogurt has.

Don't worry, we'll explain everything.

Yogurt... The Probiotic Cure for Diarrhea

Probiotics are the term coined for what we refer to as "good" bacteria, in which we are just talking about bacteria that resides in our guts and that is beneficial for our health.

There are trillions of microscopic bacteria in our guts and these guys help break down food, provide us with nutrients that are essential for our health, fight against harmful bacteria that can cause disease, and more. 

Probiotics have long been consumed in the East but didn't start becoming more popular for health reasons in the West until much more recently.

Studies

A large meta-analysis published in the Chochrane Database of Systemic Reviews looked at 63 studies with a total of 8014 participants who suffered from acute diarrhea and had been treated with probiotics. The results showed that overall probiotics reduced the duration of diarrhea and gave no adverse side effects.

Another meta-analysis performed on the probiotic effects on diarrhea in children included 4 trials with 464 total participants and found that probiotic treatment reduced diarrhea duration by 4.02 days on average.

Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are two characteristic bacterial cultures found in yogurt, according to MilkFacts.info and other sources, and both have been found to be beneficial (based on early stage research).

Lactobacillus bulgaricus is thought to be able to help treat certain kinds of diarrhea and conditions associated with diarrhea, such as IBD (source: Healthline) and Streptococcus thermophilus has been found to be effective in some cases, such as a study on antiobiotic-associated diarrhea in which Streptococcus thermophilus intake caused a significant decrease of the problem.

Probiotics Work and Yogurt is a Good Source

While there are a still a lot of unknowns and results from taking probiotics vary greatly, due to the many different strains and other variables, the overall conclusion is that they do indeed work... and that yogurt is a darn good natural source of such.

The origins of yogurt aren't well known, but it is believed that it dates back to around 5,000 BC in Mesopotamia where it was referred to as the "food of the gods". It was likely discovered by accident when milk was stored in warm climates, which would lead to fermentation by lactic acid bacteria which feed off the sugars in milk. 

Probiotics occur naturally in yogurts, but that's not the only upside.

The big reason yogurt (and other fermented milk products like kefir) is such a good source of probiotics is because of its ability to help neutralize stomach acid, which is why it's one of the better probiotic choices on our list of 16 foods for good gut flora.

Probiotics are fragile. They are living bacteria and can die easily if not taken care of properly. Not only does manufacturing, processing and production of various probiotic products often kill the bacteria, but our stomach acid can be a hard barrier for it to cross even if live cultures do make their way into our bodies. Yogurt helps neutralize the acidic environment so that the bacteria can get into the intestines unharmed.

Note: Not all yogurt contains probiotics due to harmful manufacturing processes, packaging, etc. If you want yogurt with probiotics look for the "live and active cultures" seal.

.. But.. Yogurt Can Cause Diarrhea Too!

It can, but the good news is that it probably won't, at least for most people.

However, if you suffer from lactose intolerance, milk allergy, or fructose malabsorption then it could be a cause of such.

1. Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is a natural sugar that is found in milk... and since yogurt is a milk product it also contains this sugar.

The problem is that many people have the inability to break down lactose during digestion because they lack the enzyme that is required for such, and this leads to bloating, gas, diarrhea, etc.

According to the National Institutes of Health about 65% of people have a "reduced ability" to digest lactose. However, this varies greatly with genetics. Those of us with East Asian descent are among the highest population affected, with estimates as high as 90% being lactose intolerant.

The good news is that yogurt doesn't contain nearly as much lactose as milk does due to the fermentation process in which the bacteria feeds off of this natural sugar, reducing the content for us.

While a cup of milk has about 12g of lactose, Greek yogurt only has about 4g per 6-ounce container (source: AmericanDairy).

So even if you get cramps and diarrhea from drinking milk, you still may be able to ingest yogurt without much problem. It will depend on the individual.

2. Milk Allergies

Milk allergies are different from lactose intolerance but may be confused at times.

A milk allergy is when the body's immune system gets involved. Basically what happens is the body thinks that one of the many proteins in milk is harmful and mounts an attack, even though there is no real threat.

This is one of the most common childhood allergies that exists, but is not nearly as common in adults.

Common side effects include vomiting and diarrhea, but can potentially be anaphylaxis.

Symptoms usually don't show until a couple hours after digestion... which differs from other food allergies.

3. Fructose Malabsorption

If you buy healthy yogurt then you will have no problem with this. However, be sure to read the label before purchasing because some yogurts are made more palatable by the addition of fructose, often in the form of high fructose corn syrup.

Fructose is a simple sugar, but not so simple to digest... which is the reason many people have what is now called fructose malabsorption. This occurs when the intestines aren't able to break the sugar down efficiently and can lead to bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, etc.

It's thought to affect about 40% of the Western hemisphere, but degrees of this condition vary greatly and most conditions wouldn't be considered 'bad' by any means.

So read the label next time you pick up a pack of delicious strawberry yogurt... or plain if you aren't into much flavor.

Also, many yogurts have added fruits which , although natural, contain fructose and could lead to the problem. This is a reason strawberries, grapes, watermelon, etc. can cause diarrhea for some people (among other reasons of course).

The Takeaway

Yogurt can help cure diarrhea and may lead to diarrhea in some individuals. But which is it more likely to do?

Well, if you are eating healthy yogurt that does indeed have live bacteria cultures then it's more likely to be beneficial. Sure, some of the population may be lactose intolerant, suffer from milk allergies, or have fructose malabsorbance... but this would be more rare and unlikely serious enough to cause diarrhea for most of us.

Remember, yogurt has much less lactose than milk, milk allergies aren't nearly as common in adults as in children, and fructose malabsorbance is often benign.

That said, if you do feel as if your yogurt consumption has been leading to your increased frequency of bathroom visits then we suggest trying a simple elimination diet to get to the bottom of things. This can be done at home for free by simply eliminating foods from your diet, observing any changes, and then reintroducing them.

We like to hear feedback from our readers! Please leave any questions or comments below...

Got Diarrhea? – What to Eat & What to Avoid

Diarrhea... no one wants to deal with it, but everyone gets it at some point or another. It is estimated that in America everyone gets about one bout of diarrhea per year.

Cancel your plans, prepare the toilet, and lace up your running shoes... because you will be running to the bathroom frequently. 

Well, that is how it usually goes. But there are some ways to avoid this, and that is what this post is all about.

Let's start out with a list of some good foods you can eat to help you get rid of diarrhea--so that you can put an end to it if you are experiencing it currently, or be prepared before it happens again.

What to Eat

The BRAT diet has been around since the early 1900's and use to be commonly recommended for those with diarrhea, especially by pediatricians for children. 

This diet consists of:

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

While this diet isn't recommended all that much anymore due to it being overly-restrictive, these foods are still good choices that you should consider.

High Fiber vs Low Fiber

Generally speaking, if you are constipated and want to encourage a BM you should eat foods high in fiber, and vice versa if you have diarrhea.

Soluble fibers like pectin would still be good to consume, because of how they absorb excess water and can help firm-up loose stool, but it is usually more insoluble fiber that you get from high-fiber foods... which is why it's best to try to avoid foods high in fiber altogether. 

The BRAT foods are all low in fiber.

Both bananas and applesauce provide pectin (the good, soluble fiber) to help firm loose stool and little insoluble fiber. However, this would be different if you were eating whole apples with the skin, which is where much of the insoluble fiber is located.

Easy on The Stomach

Another name for the BRAT Diet is actually the Bland Diet, due to how bland it is of course.

Bananas, rice, applesauce, toast... these are all mild foods and are easy on the stomach.

While the BRAT diet might not be recommended anymore due to being too restrictive, it is still a good and simple diet to follow when in need. What you might want to do, however, is take some multivitamins along with this diet because of how basic it is.

Some other bland foods that could also be put on the list, but I assume are excluded to help keep things as short and simple as possible, are:

  • Boiled potatoes
  • and cream of wheat

Probiotics Can Be a Good Addition Too

A healthy gut microbiota is essential for good digestion and proper bowel movements. And if you don't already know, probiotics are 'good' bacteria that is beneficial to our guts and help out in the digestive process.

Taking probiotics when you have diarrhea or at anytime can be of benefit. However, most probiotics are sold in milk or yogurt drinks, which might not be the best choice because of how diary is a common cause of diarrhea.

Our suggestion would be to eat vegan sources of probiotics like sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, water kefir, etc.

What to Avoid

Spicy Foods

Hot peppers, horse radish, ginger... these are foods you are going to want to avoid for the time being. They may further irritate your digestive system and exacerbate the problem.

Dairy Products

If you are lactose intolerant this means that your body can't properly process lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. This condition commonly causes upset stomach and diarrhea.

However, even if you don't suffer from this problem it might be a good idea to avoid dairy if you have diarrhea.

Lots of Fiber

As mentioned, lots of fiber is something you want if you are constipated, but generally not if you have diarrhea.

You may want to avoid foods like oat-bran, broccoli and other dark-green vegetables, eating fruits with the skin, seeds and nuts... all of which are high in fiber.

High Amounts or Sugar

High amounts of sugar is something you are also going to want to avoid, so this means putting the candy out of sight.

Sugar alcohols aren't very easy for your body to digest. Because of this they are fermented by bacteria, and during this process gas is released. This then can lead to cramps, stomach pain, and of course... diarrhea.

This commonly happens to people who have fructose intolerance and eat too much fruit (fructose is a natural sugar in fruit), which is the reason grapes, watermelon, etc. will give some people diarrhea.

Greasy Fast-Food

Don't order any Big Macs or Whoopers. These types of foods are better off being avoided... and not just when you have diarrhea, but at any time.

Not only are the artificial preservatives and flavors that some fast-food has not good for healthy digestion, but also the high fat content can lead to diarrhea, or worsen it if you have the problem already.

Artificial Sweeteners

Stay away from foods that are overly-sweet in general, whether it be from real sugar or from artificial sweeteners.

The body isn't used to artificial ingredients and this leads to improper digestion, which can cause diarrhea. This is the reason so many people complain about getting diarrhea from eating sugar-free gummy bears, as an example.

Artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, have also been shown to kill good gut bacteria, which as mentioned is important for proper digestion.

'One-Size-Fits-All' Doesn't Exist

One thing to be aware of is that there is no blanket approach to getting rid of diarrhea. One-size-fits-all doesn't exist.

There are many different causes of diarrhea and everyone's body reacts differently to different foods.

While one person may be able to eat spicy Mexican dishes all day long, someone else may lose 5 lbs running to the bathroom over and over again after eating a mildly spiced taco.

That said, the foods that are recommended above are, generally speaking, what you should eat and avoid if you have diarrhea.

Resume Normal Eating

Of course no one wants to eat bland food forever, and it also isn't all that healthy to do such.

As soon as you can you should resume normal eating... unless your "normal" eating consists of a poorly well-balanced diet.

The reason the BRAT diet isn't often recommended to children anymore is because of it not being very well-rounded. It only consists of 4 foods and isn't healthy long-term... although it is still a simple and effective way to get over diarrhea.

A well balanced diet is important for overall health and proper digestion.

Note: If you experience abnormally frequent diarrhea and have already taken the advice given here, it is wise to seek advice from a trained professional. You may have an underlying and potentially serious condition that is to blame.

Can Watermelon Cause Diarrhea? – It Sure Can!

Watermelon... it's a nutritiously delicious hydrating snack that is great for outdoor get-togethers, if you don't get diarrhea from it that is.

Can watermelon cause diarrhea? 

The answer is yes... for some people. 

The fruit has been around for thousands of years. According to watermelon.org, the first watermelon harvest ever recorded dates back about 5,000 years to ancient Egypt. And they enjoyed the food just as much as we do today... sometimes placing watermelons in burials with kings to help nourish them into the afterlife.

But... as tasty as they are... for some people eating some watermelon means diarrhea later on... and no one wants to have to deal with that.

Yes, Watermelon Can Cause Diarrhea & Here are 3 Reasons Why

#1 - Fructose Malabsorption

The first reason watermelon may lead to diarrhea, and probably the most common, is fructose malabsorption.

Fructose is a sugar that is found in many plants, but is found in the highest amounts in fruits.

Bananas, peaches, grapes, strawberries, cherries, apples, watermelon, etc... these all have fructose and all can potentially cause diarrhea.

An apple a day may keep the doctor away for some people, but for others it may give diarrhea and stomach cramping... which might send them to the doctor. The same goes for watermelon.

Fructose malabsorption (aka fructose intolerance) is when your intestines aren't able to efficiently break down fructose during digestion. The absorption of fructose usually happens in the small intestine, but when it isn't absorbed properly it can travel to the large intestine where it is then fermented by bacteria... causing bloating, cramps and potentially diarrhea.

This condition is a common symptom of other larger conditions like IBS but you can also have it on its own also.

According to SFGate you should probably avoid fruits that contain fructose as more than half of their natural sugar content, which includes watermelon.

In 100g of raw, natural watermelon there is about 6g of sugar total, of which 3.36g is fructose (source: Traditional Oven).

#2 - Lycopene Could Be The Cause

If you are a big watermelon eater then this could very well be the cause if you are not intolerant to fructose. 

Watermelon is said to contain about 9-13 mg of lycopene per 1.5 cups. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 30 mg of lycopene consumed on a daily basis may be enough to cause bloating, indigestion, and diarrhea... and considering the fact that other fruits like pink grapefruit & tomatoes also have it... the amount watermelon provides could put you over the unofficial 30 mg threshold. 

Lycopene is a carotenoid that is what gives tomatoes and watermelon (and others) their red color. Even if you aren't a big red fruit eater, you could be getting it from lots of other sources, like ketchup for example, which is made from tomatoes.

The potential of this substance to cause diarrhea is very understudied, but there is evidence that suggests it can, and will, if consumed in too high amounts.

#3 - High Water Content

Watermelons are about 92% water (some sources claim even higher!), which is very high and probably the reason they have the word 'water' in their name.

This is unlikely to cause diarrhea, but foods with high water content can certainly encourage bowel movements and could potentially help tip the scales a little too far in that direction.

But It's Also Good for Digestion

Yes, watermelon does have some potential to cause diarrhea. However, for the majority of people out there enjoying a nice slice of the fruit on a hot summer day isn't going to cause any harm... and can be beneficial for digestion instead.

The high water content and the fiber it provides are important for healthy digestion. They can help to prevent constipation and aren't likely to cause diarrhea.

Watermelon is far from being a 'good' source of fiber, but will give you 0.4 g per 100 g (source: USDA). This is enough to provide some benefit for proper BM's but certainly isn't so much that you should worry about it leading to diarrhea.

The Most Likely Cause

If you experience diarrhea after eating watermelon the most likely cause seems to be fructose malabsorption (#1 on the list)

And if you do have this problem then you should experience diarrhea from a range of different fruits that are high in fructose, not just watermelon alone.

If you think that watermelon is the cause, but are not quite sure, we suggest doing an elimination diet, which is something you can do on your own at home... for free.

Foods That Help Stop Diarrhea

Generally speaking, if you have the runs and want to stop this unwanted and sometimes embarrassing problem you should eat foods that are low in fiber. Watermelon falls into this category, but there are other reasons why it's not generally a good choice, such as its high fructose content for example.

Foods like white bread, pasta, and white rice are examples of good foods that aren't high in fiber and likely won't cause problems--making them good foods for stopping diarrhea.

The popular diarrhea-preventing BRAT diet says that people who have diarrhea should eat Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. This will work for some, but as you know bananas and applesauce have a lot of fructose, which may not be suitable for everyone.

For Severe Diarrhea Sufferers

If your diarrhea is to the point where you would consider it severe we recommend getting in contact with your doctor as well as avoiding watermelon for the time being, if you do believe this to be the cause. 

Additionally, it may be a smart idea to avoid foods high in fructose in general, since this is the likely root cause.

Is Oatmeal a Laxative & Will It Make You Poop? – Explained

The effects that oatmeal has on your digestive system are somewhat confusing, and you may have heard conflicting stories.

Is oatmeal a laxative that will make you poop? Or does it work in the opposite direction and can it help harden loose stool and take care of diarrhea?

The quick answer is that it oatmeal is a good choice if you are looking to stimulate bowel movements... because it has laxative effects.

The Reason for Oatmeal's Laxative Effect

A laxative is anything that can help stimulate or facilitate the evacuation of the bowels... anything that can help you poop. 

When it comes to natural laxatives you want foods that are high in fiber--and you want the opposite if you have diarrhea and are trying to get rid of it, which is why the low-fiber BRAT diet is often recommended for diarrhea sufferers.

Fiber In Oatmeal

According to the USDA, one cup of cooked oatmeal will provide you with about 4 grams of fiber, which is about 15-20% of what is recommended daily.

Most Americans only get about 15 grams of fiber per day due to eating too many processed foods. Throwing vegetables, fruit, and whole grains like oatmeal are good choices to boost fiber intake and help stimulate BM's.

There are 2 types of fiber and both can actually have somewhat of a laxative effect--and oatmeal contains both.

Insoluble fiber is fiber that is not broken down in the digestive system and remains intact. It helps stimulate bowel movements by adding bulk to stool and helping speed up passage.

Soluble fiber, on the other hand, absorbs water and turns into a gel-like substance. It can help stimulate BM's by bringing water into hardened stool and softening it.

Both forms of fiber work hand-in-hand. The extra bulk from insoluble fiber and the softening effect of soluble fiber make for a great natural laxative.

Are Natural Laxatives a Better Choice?

Taking laxatives every once in a while isn't a problem. The problem comes from overuse... and of course how strong the laxatives are.

Laxatives help stimulate BM's, which is good. The bad thing is that if they increase BM frequency too much then you are basically flushing out your system without allowing your body to absorb the important nutrients you are eating--and this is why people who overuse laxatives are often frail and malnourished.

Over-the-counter laxatives can be more potent but can also have more negative side effects, such as dependency, decreased bowel function, and can lead to less nutrient absorptio.

Natural laxatives, like oatmeal and other foods high in fiber, aren't going to have such noticeable effects but can be eaten consistently without any negative effects.

So while an over-the-counter laxative may be a better choice for a serious case of constipation that you need relief from instantly, oatmeal and other foods that have a natural laxative effect may be a better choice for long-term use to keep BM's normal.

Additionally there are many other benefits from eating a healthy natural food like oatmeal, some of which include:

  • Oatmeal can lower cholesterol and reduce risk of diabetes
  • Oats are rich in antioxidants that help fight off cell-damaging free-radicals
  • They have been shown to improve blood sugar levels
  • Oatmeal is very filling, which is good if you are trying to lose weight

... and more.

Oatmeal is also a great source of slow digesting carbs, which provide a slow source of energy--and this is the reason oatmeal is often the pre-workout meal of choice among many athletes.

Oatmeal As a 'Binding Food'

If you have diarrhea you are likely to be recommended binding foods.

What the heck is a binding food?

A binding food is a food that helps bind your stool, or hold it together which can help eliminate diarrhea.

Oatmeal, although it can definitely help loosen up stool and help one poop, also has some binding qualities to it.

The soluble fiber in particular is what can help bind lose stool--which Today's Dietitian claims oatmeal provides as much as 3g of in 3/4 cup dry oats.

As mentioned, soluble fiber absorbs water and turns into a gel-like substance. This can help harden overly-loose stool and hold it together.

Will It Give You Diarrhea or Constipation?

The good news is that oatmeal isn't likely to give most people either problem. It is much more likely to help normalize bowel movements, which means if you are constipated it can help loosen stool and if you have diarrhea it can help harden it.

That said, there is no doubt that oatmeal leans more heavily to the side of being a laxative... so although there are some qualities that it has which could be beneficial for helping harden the stool, there are much better alternatives out there and if you do have diarrhea oatmeal is something we'd recommend that you stop eating for a bit.

Generally speaking, foods that you want to eat if you have diarrhea are those low in fiber. Foods that you want to eat if you are constipated are high in fiber.

Oatmeal is considered a high fiber food, which means it's a better choice for it's laxative effect--to help fight off constipation.

Why It Won't Always Help

As we know, the big reason oatmeal has laxative-type effects is because of its fiber content, which it is high in.

However, there are many causes of constipation.

Lack of fiber is a very common cause and if this is one's problem then oatmeal could very well help out... but if constipation is caused by some other reason it may not be beneficial in this area.

A Better Natural Laxative Alternative

If you are a fan of oatmeal and looking to stimulate a BM, you might also be a fan of oat bran, which is even better for stimulating BMs.

Oat bran is made from the same oats as oatmeal, but only consists of the bran of the oats whereas oatmeal is the whole grain. It has a creamier texture that some people prefer and is often eaten as a porridge.

*The bran is the hard outer layer of the oat

Oat bran has about 50% more fiber than oatmeal. That's a big difference and the reason oat bran is pretty much the undisputed better choice when it comes to the question of which is the better natural laxative.

In fact, it's such a good natural laxative that in a 2009 study in The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging it was able to be used as a substitute to over-the-counter laxatives. In this study frail elderly patients who were on heavy amounts of laxatives were given 7-8g of oat bran per day for 12 weeks. The results were that 59% were able to discontinue using laxatives.

Oatmeal, oat bran... both are good choices. Both are high in fiber and have laxative effects.

So next time you are a bit constipated and are looking for a healthy way to stimulate a BM, whip up a bowl of oatmeal and give that try.

PS: If you think something that you may be eating is causing irregular BM's, you may want to try an elimination diet!

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Cause Diarrhea? – Yes & Here’s Why

It's used to lose weight, to lower blood sugar levels, to improve digestion, lower cholesterol, improve hearth health, and the list goes on... but does it also cause the unwanted and extremely inconvenient side effect of diarrhea?

What we're talking about here is good ol' Apple Cider Vinegar, which seems to have become a natural remedy to just about every problem under the sun.

Can it cause diarrhea? Well, in short... yes... but it probably won't. In fact, it seems to be more likely to help treat it.

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar, or ACV for short, is basically fermented apple juice, which in the end consists of about 94% water, about 1% carbs and doesn't have any fat or protein.

Most of the claimed health benefits surrounding this "super-food" are very loosely proven with scientific evidence, which is why ACV falls into the category of being a folk medicine.

Does It Cause Diarrhea?

No one wants to deal with the hassle of running to the restroom in excess... nor do any of us want the uncomfortable side effects that come along with this condition... or the potentially embarrassing social impact it can have.

Not only that, but taking ACV would pretty much be a complete waste of time since an eruption of diarrhea would lead to loss of nutrients and also little absorption of the ACV.

2 Ways It May Cause Diarrhea

1. There is a theory that drinking too much at one time will cause excess water to be pulled into the bowel, which will lead to watery stools, aka diarrhea--but not much in the way of proof here. That said, drinking or eating excessive amounts of even the healthiest foods can cause digestive issues, so this could be true.

But we aren't talking about what will happen if you chug an entire bottle of ACV. We are talking about consuming recommended amounts, which might be as little as a tablespoon once a day.

2. Some people with sensitive stomachs may experience stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea. If you fall into this category it might be best to avoid all acidic foods as best you can and likely spicy foods as well.

The reason for this is because of ACV's acidity, which is usually around a pH of 3.3-3.5 at 5%. This, however, is less than other vinegars. ACV is more alkaline due to having more alkaline nutrients.

Acidity is also a reason why some people get diarrhea from orange juice, but this is also very rare.

A Constipation Treatment?

One of this folk medicine's uses is to treat constipation, which we all know is the opposite of diarrhea.

Supporters of ACV supplementation for constipation say that it has a laxative effect, which is pretty much like saying that it can cause diarrhea if supplemented in large enough amounts. 

One of the arguments for its laxative health benefits are that it contains the soluble fiber called pectin, which is all-around good for healthy bowel movements. However, the amount of pectin in apples is only about 1 - 1.5% (source: Wikipedia) and the incredibly small doses of ACV that most people are taking for health benefits isn't going to provide much in the way of this soluble fiber at all... and besides... wouldn't it just make more sense to eat an apple if you are looking for some pectin?

While there are some reasons (as discussed) that ACV may have laxative effects and cause diarrhea, it definitely does not seem to be that great of a choice for a constipation treatment.

Study Shows It Slows Down Bowel Movements

Contrary to it causing diarrhea, apple cider vinegar has actually been shown in studies to slow down gastric emptying.

A 2007 study published in BMC Gastroenterology had 10 patients with diabetic gastroparesis (condition where digestion is abnormally slow and stomach cannot fully empty itself) supplement ACV. The results were that it made the condition even worse by slowing down the gastric emptying rate even more... which would suggest that it could potentially help with diarrhea.

A Cause or Cure for Explosive Bowel Movements?

If you are consuming small doses of ACV for health reasons you are unlikely to get diarrhea from it--and seem to be more likely to treat the condition if you have it.

While there is very little evidence suggesting either, according to some sources it is likely that a healthy dose of ACV will help return bowel movements to normal no matter what the situation--by improving gut health in various ways.

4 Ways ACV Is Good for Your Gut

#1 - Improves Digestion

There isn't really much in the way of proof here, but legend has it that ACV increases the acidity of your stomach and this then leads to the body creating more pepsin, which is the enzyme responsible for breaking down protein. 

Pepsin has been found to occur more rapidly in acidic environment (source: 2015 article in the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology) and it makes perfect sense that an acidic beverage such as ACV would increase the overall acidity of one's stomach.

It is for this reason that ACV is sometimes consumed before meals rich in protein... to help aid the digestion.

#2 - Helps With Upset Stomach

When you think about stomach acid being the problem behind an upset stomach, indigestion, heartburn, etc... you usually think of there being too much. However, some sources claim that too little stomach acid may be the more common problem.

A small sip of diluted ACV before meals can help balance acid levels and return digestion to normal.

#3 - Improves Gut Microbiota

The bacteria that resides in our guts is incredibly important. Without it we would have horrible digestion and much of the nutrients from the food we eat would go in one end and right out the other, without being absorbed.

ACV can actually help improve gut bacteria because it has prebiotic effects, which basically means that it provides food for good gut bacteria. ACV has prebiotics from the fermented apples and is also a source of pectin, which is an soluble fiber that helps with digestion and is a prebiotic itself.

#4 - Reduces Inflammation

It is also recommended by some as a treatment for gastritis, which is when one's stomach becomes inflamed and swollen for various reasons.

In the Chiroprator Kyle D. Christensen's book titled Herbal First Aid and Health Care, he talks about how lack of hydrochloric acid production in the stomach is often to blame for gastritis and how ACV can help cure this problem.

ACV is also consumed as a way to reduce inflammation of all kinds, although its effectiveness is not proven.

With or Without Mother?

You will hear a lot of natural health enthusiasts saying that you should be buying ACV with "mother", but what the heck does this even mean?

Well, if you look at ACV with and without "mother" you will see that when it has "mother" it is a lot more murky and has sediment at the bottom.

That's the difference. With "mother" isn't filtered and because of this you are left with a liquid that has cellulose and acetic acid bacteria in it--a more raw form that will provide you with a bit more.

Before Drinking

If you are thinking about jumping on the ACV health craze and are looking to drink the liquid yourself, be sure to dilute it beforehand. The high acidity can eat away at the enamel on your teeth and can irritate your throat--and the strong taste isn't exactly inviting.

You may see people taking a spoonful of it right to the mouth, but this isn't the best choice and these people may regret it later down the road if they do so consistently.

What you can do is add a teaspoon or tablespoon to a cup of water, which is what most people do. This will dilute it plenty but you don't have to go this far. Just a small 50/50 mix of ACV and water is plenty.

Summary

  • Apple cider vinegar is unlikely to cause diarrhea when consumed in small amounts
  • The acidity of ACV can irritate those with sensitive stomachs, potentially leading to diarrhea--and it is also said that ACV can cause excess water to enter the colon
  • ACV's doesn't seem to be a very good laxative treatment for constipation
  • Some evidence suggests it helps slow bowel movements
  • ACV is good for overall gut health

While apple cider vinegar can potentially cause diarrhea for some people, most of us who supplement small amounts for health reasons aren't going to have any problem with it--and will benefit in various ways.

Much of the hype surrounding ACV is folk-medicine, so you can't always trust everything you here. It may not be the amazing super-food it is touted as being but it can be a healthy supplement to add to your diet... one that can help normalize bowel movements.

*If you are experiencing diarrhea from ACV you should discontinue supplementation and you may want to try eating these foods to help stop it. Or, if it is severe, we always recommend consulting with a doctor.

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