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What Foods Can Cause Excessive Bowel Movements?

author image Heather Rutherford
Heather Rutherford has enjoyed writing professionally since 2004. Her articles have appeared in ModernMom.com, DailyLife.com, ParentsHut.com, Trails.com and On-the-News. She also works intimately with several small businesses to prepare business plans and other marketing materials. Rutherford is seeking an Associate of Arts in business from North Idaho College.
What Foods Can Cause Excessive Bowel Movements?
The fiber found in broccoli may cause increased trips to the bathroom. Photo Credit James Trice/iStock/Getty Images

The number of bowel movements you have each day depends on a variety of individual factors, and normal bathroom habits are different for each person. Diarrhea is defined as loose, watery stools occurring more than three times in one day. In addition to bacteria, viruses, medications and some medication conditions, certain foods can increase the frequency of your bowel movements.

Insoluble Fiber

What Foods Can Cause Excessive Bowel Movements?
Eating too much fiber may cause gas and bloating. Photo Credit bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

While you need insoluble fiber to promote digestive health and prevent constipation, if you eat too much or suddenly increase your fiber intake, it may cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. The recommended intake for dietary fiber is 25 grams daily for women and 38 grams for men. When you increase fiber in your diet, do it gradually to prevent unwanted side effects. Foods that are high in insoluble fiber include beans, green peas, sweet potatoes, broccoli, beans and whole grains, especially wheat bran.

Fatty Foods

What Foods Can Cause Excessive Bowel Movements?
Fried foods often cause the digestive system to go into overdrive. Photo Credit Mark Stout/iStock/Getty Images

Fatty and greasy foods like red meat and fried foods can cause the digestive system to go into overdrive. Often your body simply cannot digest and absorb all the fat in extremely high-fat meals, which can cause an increase in bowel movements. Monitor the amount of butter and oils you use in your foods, and cut back where possible. Choose grilling over frying, and opt for low-fat or nonfat options of your favorite foods to get your digestive system back on track.

Milk and Dairy Products

What Foods Can Cause Excessive Bowel Movements?
Dairy products may cause bloating and diarrhea in lactose intolerant individuals. Photo Credit AD077/iStock/Getty Images

Lactose intolerance is a common condition that is more likely to occur in adulthood. The condition arises when you lack the enzyme needed to digest lactose, which is a sugar found in milk and dairy products. People with lactose intolerance often experience digestive symptoms when they consume dairy products, including abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea. Some people with this condition may tolerate small amounts of lactose-containing products. Others may need to avoid milk, choose dairy products with less lactose such as yogurt and cheese, or take lactase enzyme tablets.

Spicy Foods

What Foods Can Cause Excessive Bowel Movements?
Spicy foods trigger diarrhea for many. Photo Credit Philhillphotography/iStock/Getty Images

Each individual has different types of foods that trigger diarrhea, and for many the offending source is spicy foods. The chemicals in spicy foods may irritate your stomach or cause indigestion. Spicy foods can also trigger acid reflux. The active ingredient in hot peppers -- capsaicin -- may increase digestive fluids in your stomach. However, capsaicin may actually help relieve diarrhea by fighting bacteria that can cause loose stools, according to Wake Forest Baptist Health.


What Foods Can Cause Excessive Bowel Movements?
Caffeine speeds up most of the body's regulatory processes. Photo Credit Warren Goldswain/iStock/Getty Images

Caffeine speeds most of the body’s regulatory processes, from heart rate to digestion, including stimulating muscles that push stools through your large intestine. If you consume a higher amount of caffeine than usual, you may see an increase in the frequency of your bowel movements. Consider drinking decaffeinated or caffeine-free beverages, and limit your chocolate consumption. If this does not help after a few days, another factor is likely to blame.

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