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Can Grapefruit or Orange Juice Cause Diarrhea?

by
author image Jody Braverman
Jody Braverman is a professional writer and editor based in Atlanta. She studied creative writing at the American University of Paris and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland. She also received personal trainer certification from NASM and her 200-hour yoga teacher certification from YogaWorks.
Can Grapefruit or Orange Juice Cause Diarrhea?
A glass of orange juice on a wooden table. Photo Credit MaximFesenko/iStock/Getty Images

Loose bowels can throw a wrench in your plans, keeping you on the toilet when you should be working or having fun with friends and family. If you have a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease or fructose malabsorption, fruit juices like grapefruit and orange could cause digestive upset. You may also have a citrus allergy or have consumed harmful bacteria in unpasteurized juice. See your doctor to get to the root of your digestive problems so you can get back to living life.

All About Diarrhea

Diarrhea is characterized as having frequent bowel movements that may be loose or watery in nature. You may experience abdominal cramps or belly pain, and your need to defecate may be immediate. Usual causes of diarrhea include bacterial or viral infections, parasites, bowel disorders, medication reactions and sensitivities or allergies to foods. You may become dehydrated when you have diarrhea, especially if it is accompanied by vomiting. You should avoid drinking citrus juices such as orange or grapefruit juice, which can worsen your condition.

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Digestive Disorders

If you have a bowel disorder such as IBS, Crohn's or fructose malabsorption, drinking citrus juices could be causing your diarrhea. With IBS and Crohn's, the gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed and diarrhea is a common symptom. It's very important to monitor your diet and avoid eating foods that may make your symptoms worse. Citrus fruits, including oranges and grapefruits and their juices, are often noted for worsening the symptoms of IBS and Crohn's. In fructose malabsorption, your body is unable to process the sugar called fructose found in fresh fruits like oranges and grapefruit. Diarrhea is a common symptom.

Assess for Food Allergies and Sensitivities

It's possible that you may have a citrus allergy, although these are rare. If this is the case, you're probably allergic to lemons and limes, too. Symptoms of a food allergy include itching around the mouth, asthma, hives, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea and may begin within minutes or up to an hour after you drink the juice. Symptoms of an intolerance may also include abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, gas and diarrhea, but symptoms are localized to the digestive system, as opposed to the immune system, which is involved with allergies.

Check for Pasteurization

In some circumstances, fresh juices that have not been pasteurized can become infected with harmful bacteria that can make you sick, causing gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. Pasteurized juice is heated to kill off this bacteria, and according to the City of Houston website, 98 percent of the juice sold in the United States is pasteurized. In addition to diarrhea, symptoms of infection include a high fever, bad headache, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramps. Symptoms develop 12 to 72 hours after consumption.

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