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‘Why Does Salad Give Me Diarrhea?’ – 5 Possible Reasons Explained

So you are doing your best to eat healthy and do what's good for your body, but things just aren't working out? Salad, which is supposed to be a good thing has turned out to be a potential culprit of unwanted frequent trips to the bathroom… Diarrhea.

Most of the time such a problem is not too much to worry about, although it can really mess up your day and throw a monkey wrench in things, but sometimes can be more of a problem than it seems. Besides the obvious frustration that leads to, diarrhea also leads to less nutrient absorption which can in turn impact you in a number of ways. So this is definitely something you want to get to the bottom of as soon as possible.

Salads, like other healthy choices such as orange juice, more than likely aren't going to be any problem for the majority of people out there, but just about any food is going to cause diarrhea for some

You Have Diarrhea If..

This is probably something you already are well aware of, but some of the symptoms of diarrhea include…

  • Watery stools
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

..and of course if you have diarrhea for long enough you are also more than likely going to be low on energy and potentially dehydrated from all the lost nutrients and fluids.

5 Reasons It Could Be Causing This Problem

Unfortunately when it comes to salads it can be difficult narrowing in on the exact reason that they are causing your unfortunate case of diarrhea. There are just so many variables at play, so many different types of salads with so many different ingredients, that there is no one good answer we can give to the question of why they are causing diarrhea. However, five potential reasons that are worth looking into include…

1. Bacterial infections

Not only does cooking foods help make them easier for us to chew and digest, but it also helps to kill harmful bacteria and other microbes that could do us harm. And, as we know, salads are not cooked, or at least not usually.

Salads are often composed largely of a leafy green, such as lettuce. Now these leafy greens should always be washed, along with everything else that is uncooked, but sometimes that is not even done. When it is done it is often washed in local waters which could contain local strains of bacteria like E. coli, the common cause of "traveler's diarrhea".

If you consistently get the runs after eating salad in an area that you have lived for a while, then you can probably roll out "traveler's diarrhea". But, it could still be due to bacteria of another kind.

The most you can do here to avoid this is simply buying salad ingredients that are trusted and make sure to always wash them yourself before eating.

2. A look at fiber

When you have diarrhea it is almost always a good idea to look at your fiber intake. You need fiber if you want to have healthy bowel movements, but you also don't want too much. Salads can vary greatly in the amount of fiber that they provide, depending on what all ingredients we are looking at, but if we are looking at a very plain salad that features mostly raw green leaf lettuce then you aren't getting much in the way of fiber. According to the USDA, 1 cup of raw green leaf lettuce only provides you with 0.5 mg of fiber.

Couple the low amount of fiber with the fact that a lot of lettuces are high in water content and this can increase your chances of loose stools.

To get a healthy dose of fiber you want to eat a nice balanced salad. Carrots, Brussels sprouts, avocados, broccoli, etc. all provide good amounts of fiber and may be worth adding into the mix.

3. Maybe it's the dressing

There are so many different varieties of dressings out there and they could very well be the cause of the entire problem, or at least be an unwanted addition that helps bring the problem about in the first place.

Are the dressings you are lathering your salads in high in fat? Do they contain soy lecithin, which is used in many different dressings? If so you may want to try out a lower fat dressing that does not contain lecithin and see if that takes care of the problem for you. Lecithin is known to cause abdominal pain, cramps and diarrhea.

4. Do you use cheese?

Cheese is another common ingredient you find in salads and is well known to cause diarrhea in many people. This is going to be a problem if you are lactose intolerant, which can lead to bloating, cramps, diarrhea, gas, etc.

The reason some people suffer from this intolerance is because the small intestine doesn't produce enough of the enzyme called lactase, which is responsible for the digestion of lactose.

If this is the problem then you will also experience the same symptoms from other dairy products like milk.

5. Tomatoes could also be the culprit

While tomatoes might not be a problem on their own, they could be an addition to a salad that you might not want to add. If you have a sensitive stomach and it is already being upset to a small degree, the extreme acidic nature of the tomato can further upset it and increase your chances of diarrhea.

This could be like "throwing wood on the fire" so to speak.

Pinpointing the Cause

As mentioned earlier on, there are so many combinations of salads and many different variables at play that it can be incredibly difficult when pinpointing the exact cause of diarrhea. And as if that doesn't already sound like a daunting task, it also could be the combination of more than one ingredient eaten at the same time, was just makes it all the more difficult.

If you are experiencing severe diarrhea from eating salads then it is probably best to see a doctor or just stop eating salads altogether. However, if this is something that you can deal with and work through, then you may want to try an elimination diet.

An elimination diet is when you eliminate different foods from your diet, one by one, and wait for the symptoms to subside. This should help you pinpoint the cause of your diarrhea. And, if you want to double check things, you can re-add the ingredient that you suspect is the cause and see if the diarrhea resumes. Sounds easy, but it is much easier said than done since the symptoms don't come about instantly after consumption.

You Might Still Be Able to Eat Salads!

Don't just give up on salads altogether. It could be one little ingredient in the mixture that is causing all this fuss… And maybe is one of your least favorite ingredients anyways. This might give you a good reason to not eat that one ingredient that you put off eating to last.

Again, if your diarrhea is to the point where you consider it severe or if you have had it for multiple days on end, it may be a more serious problem that you should get to the doctor over.

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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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