Can Cashews Cause Diarrhea?

Wooden bowl of cashew nuts from above. On dark wood.
A bowl of cashews. (Image: etienne voss/iStock/Getty Images)

Cashews do not usually cause diarrhea, unless there is another condition that is provoked by cashews. If diarrhea follows shortly after you eat cashews, you may have an allergy to tree nuts -- one of the most common food-related allergies in children and adults, according to the Food Allergy Research and Education. Tree nut allergies also cause severe allergic reactions. Talk with your doctor if you experience diarrhea every time you eat cashews.

Cashew Allergy

A cashew allergy can cause diarrhea within minutes after consuming the nut. Your immune system identifies the proteins in the cashew as a dangerous substance, even though they’re harmless. The body begins defending itself by producing Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, antibodies, according to Kids Health. IgE antibodies cause mast cells in the body to react by creating histamine. This chemical reaction in the body causes inflammation and swelling in soft tissue.

Effect

The presence of histamine in the lining of the intestines causes inflammation, irritation and swelling to occur. This leads to common gastric symptoms associated with a tree nut allergy. Common gastric symptoms of a cashew allergy are stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, according to Kids Health. Diarrhea is the term used for reoccurring, frequent and loose stools, according to MedlinePlus.

Other Symptoms

If the diarrhea is a result of an allergic reaction, you will develop other symptoms accompanying digestive difficulty. Other symptoms may include tingling in the mouth, tongue or lips, difficulty breathing, dizziness, wheezing, coughing, eczema, hives, skin rashes, nasal congestion and sinus pressure headaches, according to Kids Health. A cashew allergy can lead to a severe allergic reaction. If you develop lightheadedness, mental confusion and facial swelling, call 911.

Diarrhea Complications

Diarrhea can cause dehydration, malnourishment and weight loss if not treated properly. Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much water and salt that could lead to death. Symptoms of dehydration are dry skin, fatigue, dark urine and thirst. Drink plenty of fluids while you have diarrhea, such as herbal tea, water and broth to stay hydrated, according to MedlinePlus.

Avoidance

Food Allergy Research and Education states that the most effective way to prevent common symptoms from a tree nut allergy is to eliminate tree nuts from your diet. The federal government requires that exposure of a pre-packaged food to tree nuts needs to be disclosed on the product’s package. Cashew

Fiber and Intestinal Trouble

Cashews have a fair amount of fiber, with 4 grams of fiber in a 1-cup serving. According to Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, adults should be getting at least 25 grams of fiber per day, but if you are not used to fiber it should be added slowly. If you eat a cup of cashews all of that fiber may cause intestinal stress, leading to gas, bloating and diarrhea.

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