Diarrhea is common and affects 179 million Americans every year, according to the National Institutes of Health. With mandarin oranges, diarrhea may occur if you have a severe allergy to citrus or you've contracted a foodborne illness, but these fruits are more likely to help diarrhea than cause it.
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Loose, Watery Stools
Diarrhea affects millions of people every year. Luckily, most cases are short-lived and only last a few days (acute diarrhea). Viral, bacterial and parasitic infections are the most common causes of acute diarrhea and most often enter your body through contaminated food or water.
According to Colorado State University, oranges were responsible for 11 outbreaks of foodborne illness between 1998 and 2014, including four outbreaks caused by Salmonella and two from norovirus. Diarrhea is a common symptom of Salmonella and norovirus infections, along with abdominal pain, fever and vomiting. These symptoms may last as long as five to seven days, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Diarrhea that lasts longer than four weeks is considered chronic diarrhea and may be a sign of an underlying health issue, such as a food intolerance, food allergy or condition that affects your digestive system, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or celiac disease. With chronic diarrhea, your loose watery stools may be ongoing or intermittent and should be evaluated by your primary care provider.
Citrus Fruit and Diarrhea
Citrus fruits include oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes and tangerines, which are also known as mandarin oranges. These fruits are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and vitamin C, which are nutrients that may protect against heart disease and cancer.
Though these fruits offer many health benefits, you shouldn't eat them if you have an allergy to citrus fruits. Food allergies can cause an array of symptoms, including digestive issues like diarrhea.
However, according to a January 2013 study published in PLOS One, citrus fruit allergies are most often caused by pollen and more likely to cause the type of symptoms you'd expect with hay fever, such as runny nose, itchy eyes, scratchy throat or sneezing.
Though abdominal symptoms such as pain, nausea or vomiting are possible. The authors of the PLOS One study noted that participants with abdominal pain and diarrhea were more likely to have a systemic food allergy, which is a more serious allergy that increases risk of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening conditions that requires immediate medical attention.
Citrus allergies aren't common. If you suspect an allergy, you should consult with a medical professional who can provide the right diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Read more: Foods to Eat to Stop Diarrhea
Mandarin Oranges for Diarrhea Treatment
Citrus fruit isn't a common cause of diarrhea, but its nutritional profile makes it a good choice for managing the ill effects of your loose, watery stools. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance are common complications of diarrhea, according to NIH. Citrus fruits are a good source of fluid and electrolytes and may help replenish your losses.
According to the USDA, a medium mandarin orange (2.5 inches in diameter) has 47 calories, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of protein or fat. It also meets 3 percent of the daily value (DV) for potassium, an electrolyte at risk of imbalance due to diarrhea.
The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics recommends mandarin oranges for diarrhea treatment because these fruits are not only a source of essential electrolytes, but are also low in fiber. Limiting your fiber intake may help decrease cramping and gas associated with your diarrhea.
Orange juice can also rehydrate you and replenish electrolyte losses. One cup of orange juice from concentrate has 120 calories, 29 grams of carbohydrates and no fiber, protein or fat. It also provides 12 percent of the DV for potassium.
- Dairy Council of California: "Health Benefits of Citrus Fruit"
- Mayo Clinic: "Food Allergies"
- PLOS One: "Citrus Allergy From Pollen to Clinical Symptoms"
- Anaphylaxis Campaign: "Fruit"
- World Allergy Organization: "Food Allergy"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Tangerines (Mandarin Oranges), Raw"
- USDA: "Tangerine"
- University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics: "Eating Hints to Help With Diarrhea"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Orange Juice"
- National Institutes of Health: "Definition and Facts for Diarrhea"
- Colorado State University: "Oranges"
- Food and Drug Administration: "What You Need to Know About Foodborne Illnesses"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.