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Can Certain Foods Cause Blood in Stool?

author image Sara Ipatenco
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.
Can Certain Foods Cause Blood in Stool?
Doctor speaking with patient in hospital room. Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Blood in or on your stool can be startling and quite frightening. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that bloody stools can indicate an injury or disorder in your digestive tract. Call your doctor right away so he can run tests and examine you to determine what is causing blood in your stools and prescribe the appropriate treatment. In the meantime, certain foods can cause bloody stools, and you might have eaten one or more of them in the days before the blood appeared.

Lurking Lactose

Lactose intolerance is the inability of your body to properly digest lactose, a form of sugar found in many dairy products. If you have lactose intolerance, which is often diagnosed any time after the age of two, you may experience bloody diarrhea if you eat foods that contain this sugar. This might be particularly true if you eat large amounts of foods that have lactose in them. Your doctor can diagnose a lactose intolerance or allergy, but you might want to avoid milk, cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese. Certain foods, such as pancake mix, breakfast cereal, nondairy creamer, whipped topping, margarine and salad dressing, might also contain lactose, so read ingredient labels carefully.

Wheat Worries

A wheat intolerance or allergy can cause blood in the stool as well. If your body is not able to digest wheat properly, your body might react with diarrhea, including diarrhea that also contains blood. If you notice that you experience bloody stools after eating foods that contain wheat, speak with your doctor about further tests to determine if you are allergic to wheat. In the meantime, avoid foods that contain wheat, including bread, bagels, crackers, flour tortillas and breakfast cereal. Read ingredient labels to determine which foods contain wheat or opt for gluten-free foods, which do not contain any wheat.

Contamination Conundrum

If you eat food that is contaminated with certain strains of bacteria, the infection might cause blood in your stool. Contaminated meat and unpasteurized milk can cause campylobacteriosis, which is often accompanied by blood in the stool, particularly bloody diarrhea. E.coli, which may contaminate meat, fresh produce or juice, often leads to severe bloody diarrhea. Shigellosis bacteria contaminate dairy foods and poultry, and can also cause blood in stools. If you think you might have eaten contaminated food, call your doctor.

False Positives

Certain foods can make it look like your stool has blood in or on it, when it actually does not. Deep red foods, such as tomatoes and beets, can be eliminated from your body as stool with some of the dark color still intact, making it look like your stool is bloody when it really is not. Dark red juice or foods that are dyed red might also cause similar reactions.

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