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30 Surprising Things That Could Be Causing Diarrhea

Artificial Sweeteners

A lot of people think that if they choose the diet or sugar-free version of that soda or candy they’re craving, they’ll be fine. That’s not the case.

These foods still aren’t good for you, they’re just better at hiding it. Our bodies aren’t designed to process artificial sweeteners, so next time, just eat small portions of the product with real sugars if you just have to have that candy.

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Garlic

Garlic just can’t seem to make up its mind. On one hand, it contains a lot of vitamins and minerals while helping lower your blood pressure. On the other, it makes your breath smell terrible and is so full of insoluble fiber that your body just needs to get rid of it.

Either way, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the bathroom, whether you’re scrubbing your teeth or doing other unspeakable things. If you're having stomach problems, skip the garlic. 

Stress

We all know that stress is bad for us. Our bodies do too! They handle it in many ways, ranging from greying hair to time on the pot. Because if our bodies can’t get the stress out, it’ll just get something else out instead.

There are plenty of free meditation techniques that can help you relieve stress from videos to apps. Figure out what works best for you and give it a shot!

Soda

Soda is bad for us. We may try and deny it and drink it anyway, but it’s just not good for us. There’s nothing unique about soda that makes it bad — other than the fact that it contains so many bad things!

They are typically full of caffeine, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. Any of these by themselves can cause problems, but when you put them all together, you’ve got a recipe for disaster!

Agave

Agave is frequently used as a constipation remedy, a laxative. It’s no wonder that people who eat this when they aren’t stopped up have to go a little too much!

Some may think it's better than honey, but it's processed much the same. Sounds like you're not getting any benefits other than more bathroom trips. 

Your Period

We don’t quite know why your period can be related to diarrhea, but we do know that your period is already miserable. Diarrhea is just there to make everything worse.

Stomach medications may help but speak to your OB-GYN about any concerns you have with stomach issues during menstruation. It's, unfortunately, a very common issue. 

Your Sleep Habits

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, then it only makes sense that your body is going to malfunction. One such way is diarrhea. Others include getting sick, memory problems, and trouble focusing in that big meeting you were late to.

Try your best to get eight hours of sleep per night. That sleep should be restful and not the tossing-and-turning type of sleep. If you're struggling, change your lifestyle just before bed. Create a routine to tell your body, "it's bedtime!"

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is the second most common condition that can affect your bones and muscles, according to WebMD, often leading to muscle and joint pain.

Another common side effect is diarrhea. That makes things a lot worse for those who suffer with this painful condition. 

Dairy Products

As much as you may love a good latte or a bowl (or tub) full of ice cream, our bodies just aren’t designed to handle dairy products. This leads to your body rejecting these products, which looks a lot like you spending a lot of time in the bathroom.

Even if you aren't lactose intolerant, the body has a hard time processing dairy. It may be best skipping animal products and going for something like almond or coconut milk. 

Coffee

Coffee is known to speed things up. Your brain gets going, you get moving, and your stomach gets churning. The morning cup of joe does more than you'd think!

It’s a known laxative, and you’ll probably have to hit the bathroom soon after you down that first cup. Even tea can disrupt some people's stomachs. 

Fast Food

Fast food is one of those things seems to just give us more and more reason to hate it. Obesity, breathing problems, heart issues. What else could go wrong?

You guessed it, diarrhea. Your body knows this food is bad, and it does it’s best to get rid of it as quick as it can. Aim for healthier things when you're on the run. 

Broccoli and Cauliflower

These are two foods that we are all told to eat more of, foods that we really, really don’t want to be eating. And what happens when we do? We rush off to the bathroom thanks to their high fiber content.

Even if they don't cause diarrhea, they can cause major gas. Gastrointestinal issues are rarely a good thing.

Grapes

Grapes are great for you! When eaten in appropriate doses. When you have too much, however, your body isn’t happy. They can upset your stomach in some serious ways.

The high fructose in the fruit upsets the stomach and can cause gas or diarrhea. For some people, it can even give them nausea!

Alcohol

Sure, we love our alcohol. Humans have for millennia. But it’s not the best thing for us. To make the long list of problems it causes even longer, we can add diarrhea to the symptoms.

Alcohol also causes the production of more gastric acid. When combined, these two things can make your stomach angry (and your eyes search for the nearest restroom sign). 

Fatty Foods

Who doesn't want a nice piece of bacon or steak? While we need a decent bit of healthy fat in our diets, it can be pretty detrimental for stomachs that aren't equipped to handle it.

Plus, more than likely, we’d get what we need from a well-rounded, generally healthy diet. Eating unhealthily, excessively fatty foods just sends so much fat into our system that our body can’t absorb it.

Spicy Seasoning

We all know that when we eat too much spicy food, we aren’t going to be feeling too good for too long. Spicy food just doesn’t sit well with us. Literally. It messes with your stomach, which leads to your body… well, trying to get rid of it.

Capsaicin, the thing that makes food spicy, is the very thing that irritates the stomach. It irritates the small intestine, causing it to process everything much faster than normal. 

Medications

Medication is vital to many people today. Sadly, medications often have some side effects. Check to see if that’s a side effect. If it is and is a big enough problem, see if you can’t switch your meds.

Never stop taking your medication suddenly as it could negatively affect your body. Always speak to your doctor before changing your medication regimen. 

Fructose

Fructose is a delicious, extremely common natural sweetener found in honey, apples, and oranges. It’s fine when consumed in small doses, but when it’s over-consumed, there are problems.

Normally, fructose is absorbed in the small intestine, but sometimes it doesn't quite go as plan as it travels to the colon.  At that point, it sits in the stomach and mixes with bacteria, causing it to ferment. That's not easily absorbed by your body, which means your body is going to reject it somehow. 

Travelling

Travelling is great! You get to get out, see the world, and experience things you’ve never imagined! But you also get exposed to a lot of foods and germs your body isn’t used to. Expect a few days of adjusting.

The best way to avoid this is by eating foods that are bland and introducing new items slowly. Curry is delicious, but try to eat it with a healthy amount of whole grain. 

Food Poisoning

Okay, maybe this one isn't that surprising, but many people brush off food poisoning as something else. Sadly, food poisoning is extremely common.

It’s transmitted through bacteria, viruses, and improperly cooked food. You can’t tell if you’re going to get sick until you do, so don’t stress about this too much. If you get food poisoning, just eat something different next time.

FODMAPs

FODMAPs are a group of carbs that are very difficult for the stomach to handle. They’re notorious for causing digestive issues, but most people haven’t heard of them. Not everyone is sensitive to them, but those who are should look out.

These carbs are poorly absorbed in the small intestines and can cause a number of issues, including bloating, gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Some common foods with these FODMAPs are watermelon, apples, mangos, chickpeas, asparagus, lentils, okra, onion, stone fruits (like peaches and apricots), and most dairy foods.

Guar Gum and Xantham Gum

These two gums are thickening agents that are often included in foods and medications in place of gluten. Guar gum comes from a bean plant that’s high in fiber. Xanthum is derived from corn or soy and is also high fiber. Why would it cause issues?

Well, adding something like this in small amounts is alright, but eating a lot quickly can cause bad gastrointestinal problems from diarrhea to gas. Stuff like this is better added slowly until your body is used to it.

Extreme Exercise

You’re doing the right thing by working out, but your body isn’t cooperating. For some people, workout routines may be to blame. When you’re working out really hard (much harder than usual), your body diverts blood from your stomach and intestines to your muscles.

This can cause a lot of cramping and diarrhea. Next time take it a little easier before working out. To reduce the risk, avoid caffeine and drink plenty of fluids before working out. If none of that works, consider changing your exercise routine to something less strenuous.

Your Mood

The way we feel and our stomach are linked in more ways than we know. The fibers of the brain and our gut fibers both have serotonin lines. When you’re depressed, you have less serotonin, and your body produces more cortisol.

Cortisol then speeds up digestion, and that could result in diarrhea. It’s surprising, but our emotions could be the cause of our stomach issues! Medication can help correct the imbalance and correct the increase in cortisol production.

Carrageenan

Almond milk is considered the new fad, and everyone suggests it over animal milk. If you drink it often and experience stomach problems, it could be due to carrageenan. Carrageenan is a thickening agent that’s created using seaweed and algae.

It is also used in some dairy products, among many other things. When consumed in large amounts, it can have a laxative effect on the body. In fact, carrageenan works a lot like an actual laxative medication.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is like everything else in life. We need it, but you can get too much of a good thing easier than you’d think. If you’re eating and taking vitamin C supplements, your body can’t absorb it. Excess vitamin C speeds up your gut, making it empty faster.

This can cause cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. It also means loading up to ward off a cold could cause significant stomach issues. If you suspect a vitamin C deficiency, speak to your doctor. The daily recommended amount for men is 90 mg, while women need 75 mg.

Stomach Acid

Stomach acid is both a good and bad thing. It helps break down your food, but it can also wreak havoc if the body doesn’t handle it properly. Usually, unused bile acid is reabsorbed back into your body so it can be used again.

Sometimes, the body doesn’t process it properly, which causes something called Bile Acid Malabsorption (BAM). BAM is when too much bile accumulates in your colon and leads to diarrhea. BAM was originally thought to be rare, but now, it’s considered an under-diagnosed condition.

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies can cause itchy eyes, sneezing, and a variety of different symptoms. Little do most know, seasonal allergies can also cause diarrhea. Many foods cross-react with pollens and can cause patients to experience gastrointestinal distress.

Along with diarrhea, those with sensitive GI tracts may also experience abdominal cramping and pain. Speak to your doctor if you suspect you have diarrhea due to seasonal allergies. Simple tests are all it takes to figure out if allergies are the cause. 

Running

Ever get diarrhea on a run? If so, you’re not alone. Scientists and doctors aren’t really sure why people get runner’s diarrhea. It’s likely caused by a number of things like the physical jostling of the organs, decreased blood flow to the intestines, and changes in hormones.

It could also be due to someone eating more of something that the runner doesn’t usually consume (like when carb-loading) or anxiety and stress. To reduce the risk, drink plenty of fluids and be careful about what you eat before a race. The diarrhea shouldn’t last more than 24 hours if this is the cause.

Surgery

Before surgery, most people don’t eat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience chronic diarrhea following surgery. After surgery, diarrhea could be caused by bacteria at the surgical site, rapid emptying of the stomach (usually as a result of stomach surgery), or an increase in bile.

Poor absorption into the intestines is another cause but normally occurs when the surgery was on the intestines. Some surgeries are at a higher risk of chronic diarrhea, including anything involving the gut, appendix, spleen, liver, or pancreas.