Six foods that may cause diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is a medical condition of the patient becoming highly dehydrated due to extreme water loss in the body, which may be caused as a result of many reasons, including the infections.

Sometimes it occurs as a side effect of medication, or as a symptom of other conditions, such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

However, here is the list of six food articles that can contribute to diarrhoea:

I. Sugar and sugar substitutes

Foods that are high in sugar can cause diarrhoea. When people eat foods that contain a lot of sugar, water enters their intestines, which can result in very loose stools.

Fructose is a component of table sugar and is also found naturally in fruits. Some fruits contain more fructose than others. Some examples of foods high in fructose include:

1. apple juice
2. grapes
3. agave
4. soda

The body can only digest a certain amount of fructose at one time. Consuming more fructose than the body can absorb, may cause diarrhoea.

Dr Norton Greenberger, a gastroenterologist and Harvard Medical School professor, states that “75 percent of people who ingest more than 40 to 80 grams of fructose per day will get diarrhoea.”

Another source estimates that approximately 30 to 40 percent of people have trouble absorbing significant amounts of fructose.

Sugar alcohols, including sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and erythritol, are commonly used to sweeten foods labelled “sugar-free” or “no sugar added.” These sugar alcohols are not well absorbed by the body and can cause diarrhoea in some people, especially if consumed in large amounts.

People should be sure to check the ingredients list of foods labelled “sugar-free” or “no sugar added,” such as chewing gums, candy, and protein bars, to see if they contain any sugar alcohols.

II. Caffeine

a woman drinking a cup of coffee
As caffeine is a stimulant, it may cause diarrhoea.
Drinks and foods that contain caffeine can cause diarrhoea in some people. Caffeine is a stimulant and accelerates the rate that food moves through the intestines.

Common dietary sources of caffeine include:

1. chocolate
2. coffee
3. soda
4. tea

III. High-fat and spicy foods

Fried foods and other foods that contain a lot of fat can cause diarrhoea because they are difficult for the body to process.

Although it is no longer commonly used by the food industry, a fat substitute known as Olestra can cause diarrhoea. People should check labels of fat-free products, such as potato chips, to see if it lists Olestra as an ingredient.

Spicy foods, such as those that contain hot peppers, are another common cause of diarrhoea.

IV. Lactose

People who are lactose intolerant may experience diarrhoea, in addition to other symptoms, after they consume dairy products. Lactose intolerance is prevalent among African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Mexican Americans, and Native Americans.

Some people with lactose intolerance may be able to tolerate small amounts of dairy products that are aged or those that are lower in lactose. These products include yoghurt, kefir, and hard cheeses.


Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols are a category of carbohydrates called FODMAPs. High-FODMAP foods are difficult for some people to digest and may cause diarrhoea.

Some categories already mentioned in this article, like fructose, lactose, and sugar alcohols, are considered FODMAPs. The list of high-FODMAP foods is extensive, but a few other examples include:

1. artichokes
2. beans
3. garlic
4. onions

A low-FODMAP diet can be challenging to follow due to a large number of restricted foods. If someone thinks that FODMAPs may be the cause of their diarrhoea, a registered dietitian can provide education and guidance.

VI. Gluten

Gluten is the protein in wheat, rye, and barley, and many of the people who have problems digesting it have a serious illness, such as celiac disease. When someone has celiac disease, their immune system reacts to gluten and triggers damage to the small intestine.

Medical News Today mentions in its article, that people that do not have celiac disease may still have issues tolerating gluten. If someone suspects that gluten may be responsible for their diarrhoea, it is important that they see a doctor for proper testing before starting a gluten-free diet.