Buttered Popcorn and Diarrhea

A large bowl of buttered popcorn sitting on your lap improves any movie-watching experience, but if the snack doesn't agree with you, you might soon find yourself dashing toward the bathroom. Buttered popcorn doesn't typically lead to diarrhea, but there are reasons you might experience this gastrointestinal issue as a result of your choice of snack.

A small bowl of buttered popcorn.
Credit: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

High Fiber Content

It's possible that the high fiber content of popcorn is the culprit of your diarrhea because high-fiber foods pass quickly through your digestive system. Although the fiber content of popcorn is high, with 3 grams of total dietary fiber in 3 cups of popped popcorn, it's not likely this amount of fiber on its own will result in diarrhea. If your overall diet is high in fiber, however, the cumulative effect could be enough to result in diarrhea. Additionally, popcorn is among the foods you should avoid if you already have diarrhea.

Lactose Intolerance

It's possible that the butter, rather than the popcorn, is the cause of your diarrhea. If you have lactose intolerance and consume a dairy product that contains lactose, such as butter, diarrhea is a typical side effect. Certain ethnic groups, including African Americans and Hispanics, have a higher risk of lactose intolerance than those of European descent. Speak to your doctor to be tested for lactose intolerance or eliminate lactose sources from your diet and note if this condition's side effects, such as diarrhea and abdominal pain, disappear.

Other Potential Causes

Diarrhea is often the result of bacterial infections, which could occur if your popcorn, butter or serving bowl came in contact with a bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella. This contamination can occur if someone prepares your snack after failing to wash his hands upon using the washroom; for example, when you buy popcorn at a movie theater. It might also be possible that your diarrhea isn't related to your popcorn consumption; diarrhea can also occur if you have a viral infection or an adverse reaction to medication.

Diarrhea Treatment

Experiencing diarrhea isn't typically a cause for immediate concern, but if the condition exists for two days or longer, contact your family physician. Other reasons to call your doctor include dehydration, a high fever or the appearance of blood in your stool. While you have diarrhea, consume clear liquids for the first day and move to items such as applesauce, bananas and toast on the second day.

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