Fecal matter comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and consistencies, and certain characteristics are evidence of specific conditions. Sticky stool comes in mainly two types: black tarry stool and greasy stool that floats.
Tarry stools may be evidence of internal bleeding, as occurs with stomach ulcers, while greasy stools can indicate a malabsorption issue, such as pancreatitis or food intolerance. In either case, avoiding certain foods may offer relief. Before starting a new diet though, talk to your health care professional.
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What Causes Sticky Stool?
Sticky stool can come about for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the common culprits:
1. Food Intolerances
The inability to properly digest certain foods — which is the case with lactose intolerance, for example — can lead to fatty, sticky stool, according to Cedars-Sinai.
2. Underlying Conditions
If you have mucus in your stool, it could indicate that you're dealing with an underlying health problem like an intestinal infection or bleeding, per the Mayo Clinic. Stool with mucus and blood may also be the result of digestive illnesses like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or celiac disease.
3. Supplements or Medicine
Black, tarry stool can be a side effect from taking certain supplements and medications, like iron pills or medicine that includes bismuth (like Pepto-Bismol), according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Foods to Avoid
If you have sticky stool, certain dietary changes may help ease your symptoms. Here are some foods to avoid:
1. Shun Fatty Foods to Avoid Sticky Stools
Excessive dietary fats not stored as fat are eliminated as stool, which can often be sticky, or greasy. The recommended dietary fat intake for the average adult ranges, but according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, saturated fats should only be 10 percent of calories for the day.
Talk with your doctor about your specific caloric and fat intake needs. To calculate percentage of calories for fat, take the daily caloric intake recommended by your doctor and multiply this by the percentage of fat she recommends.
For example, in a 2000 calorie diet that requires 35 percent of calories from fat, multiply 2000 by .35 and you will see you need 700 calories from fat each day.
High-fat foods such as oils, butter and shortenings derive 100 percent of their calories from fat, while meat, eggs, dairy and nuts contain percentages of fat in excess of what is recommended. Fried foods are also high in fat and include stir-fries, French fries and potato chips.
In diseases of the digestive tract, the body is unable to metabolize even a normal amount of fat, so if cutting fat fails to improve symptoms, talk to your doctor.
2. Watch Out for High-Protein Foods
Protein is digested in the stomach, where in the presence of hydrochloric acid it is broken down into amino acids. The elevated levels of stomach acid necessary to digest protein can damage the lining of the stomach, causing an ulcer to form and possibly bleed. The digested blood results in black, tarry stool.
The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for protein is .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. As with fat intake, you can calculate your daily calories by the amount of protein your doctor recommends each day. This will tell you the number of calories you need from a protein source. A diet emphasizing meat, eggs and dairy products can exceed the recommended intake and damage the stomach, resulting in sticky stool.
3. Mind Any Food Intolerances
Some people with sticky stools cannot properly process nutrients found in the foods. Foods that contain either gluten or lactose can contribute to sticky stools in susceptible persons, such as those with food intolerances, which occur with celiac disease and lactose intolerance.
Gluten is a grain protein present in wheat, barley and rye. Many packaged foods contain gluten, so read labels carefully. Lactose is the milk sugar present in milk and to a lesser degree in yogurt and cheese. If you suspect that you are intolerant to either milk or wheat, consider eliminating these foods from your diet, and talk to your doctor.