Are There Foods That Thicken Ileostomy Stool?

working on a computer  and two banana to eat
Bananas can thicken watery ileostomy stools and replace lost potassium. (Image: Manuel-F-O/iStock/Getty Images)

Some gastrointestinal conditions that damage your digestive tract, such as inflammatory bowel disease or cancer, may require a surgical opening in your abdomen, which allows stool to leave your body. This surgery is medically known as an ileostomy, while the opening itself is called a stoma. When you are adapting to an ileostomy, you may need to adjust your diet to control the fluid volume of your stools. The type of ileostomy you have, medications you are taking, the foods you eat and the fluids you drink may affect the consistency of your digestive wastes, according to the American Cancer Society. Adding certain foods to your diet may make it easier for you to care for your ileostomy, especially in the weeks following your surgery.

Nutritional Considerations

Doctor with young woman
Consult your doctor to develop a healthy eating plan. (Image: Valua Vitaly/iStock/Getty Images)

During normal digestion, your small intestine absorbs most of the nutrients in the foods you eat while your colon absorbs additional fluids and stores digestive wastes before they pass through your rectum. When you have an ileostomy, digestive materials are diverted from your body through the stoma before much of their fluid content is absorbed. After your surgery, your digestive wastes pass into a disposable bag, which you attach to your skin with a plastic wafer. Increasing the thickness of your stool may make it easier to clean your ileostomy bag and prevent leakage. However, a diet that emphasizes foods that thicken the stool may not meet all your nutritional requirements. Some foods that bind stool are high in refined starches, sugars or fats. Consult your doctor, dietitian or ostomy nurse to develop a healthy eating plan that allows you to adapt comfortably to your ileostomy.

Applesauce and Bananas

Apple Sauce
Applesauce can help thicken stool. (Image: Ildiko Papp/iStock/Getty Images)

Applesauce and bananas contain soluble fiber, a form of fiber that thickens the stool by absorbing water from digestive wastes. Apples and bananas also provide potassium, a mineral that you may lose if you have watery stools. It is possible to lose a high volume of water very quickly through an ileostomy, which may cause a fluid or electrolyte imbalance, notes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center website. Contact your doctor if you have frequent watery stools with your ileostomy.

Peanut Butter and Cheese

peanut butter  sandwich
Peanut butter can thicken stool and provide needed sodium. (Image: Jiri Hera/iStock/Getty Images)

Peanut butter and cheese may increase the thickness of your stool. Eating peanut butter, cheese and other salty foods may also help replace the sodium that you can lose when you have a high volume of loose stools. However, you should moderate your intake of high-fat foods to avoid weight gain. Excessive weight in your abdominal area can interfere with your stoma and make it difficult to pass stool, cautions the Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology website.

Bread, Pasta, Rice and Potatoes

Sedani rigati pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil
Bread, pasta and rice can help bind watery stools. (Image: Barbara DudziAska/iStock/Getty Images)

The placement of your ileostomy on your digestive tract can affect the consistency of your stools. The higher the stoma is located on your intestinal tract, the more liquid your stools may retain. Bread, pasta and rice contain starches and fiber that can help bind watery stools. The UPMC website recommends that you eat refined white breads, cereals, pastas and skinless potatoes rather than whole-grain breads and cereals to prevent diarrhea with an ileostomy. However, eating large quantities of refined breads and other foods may promote weight gain and raise your blood sugar. Talk with your doctor or dietitian about finding the right balance of starches, fats and proteins to thicken your stool.

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