4 Ways Strawberries Can Affect Your Bowels

Strawberries can be high to digest for some due to their high fiber content.
Image Credit: Artsyslik/iStock/GettyImages

If you've got a craving for something sweet, digging into a bowl of strawberries may be just what you need. The juicy, sweet fruit can satisfy your taste buds, but for some people, it might also lead to bowel issues — indeed, strawberries do make you poop (and sometimes the reverse).

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Strawberries are packed with nutrients like fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is why you may be surprised if eating them leads to unpleasant digestive problems like diarrhea or gas.

But it can happen. Here are four potential reasons why strawberries can cause bowel troubles, plus what to do about it.

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Tip

If strawberries consistently cause digestive distress, limit or avoid the fruit and talk to your doctor to get to the root of your symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

1. They're High in Fiber

Strawberries are a valuable source of dietary fiber — 1 cup of them contains 3 grams of the nutrient, per the Mayo Clinic.

In general, fiber is great for your health. Per the Mayo Clinic, eating a high-fiber diet can help:

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Enjoying a single serving of strawberries — which is about 1 cup — may not necessarily result in unpleasant digestive symptoms.

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But it's possible for strawberries to make you poop if you eat too many due to their high fiber content. That's because overloading on the nutrient can lead to issues like bloating, gas, constipation, cramping and diarrhea, per Duke University.

Fix it:​ In order to reduce the risk of unpleasant side effects after eating strawberries, make sure that you are sticking to the appropriate serving size.

But don't cut out strawberries or other fibrous foods entirely — it's important to get plenty of fiber. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should aim to eat the following amount of the nutrient per day:

If you're not currently eating enough fiber, ease your way up to the recommended daily amount. Adding too much fiber all at once can cause gas, bloating and cramping, per the Mayo Clinic.

Your body is also better able to digest fiber and other nutrients when you're drinking enough water, so remember to always stay well-hydrated, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Are Strawberries Good for Constipation?

While it's possible that fibrous strawberries do cause constipation if eaten in excess, in moderation, they may help promote bowel movements.

Strawberries contain insoluble fibers that help food move through your GI tract more quickly. As a result, gradually increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can help get things moving and ease or prevent constipation, per the University of California San Francisco Health.

2. They Contain Fructose

Fructose is a sugar that occurs naturally in strawberries and other fruits, fruit juices, certain vegetables and honey, per the Mayo Clinic.

But some people aren't able to adequately digest fructose. This condition is called fructose malabsorption, and occurs when the cells of your small intestine can't absorb the sugar properly, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

It can lead to symptoms like:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain

Other people have a genetic condition called hereditary fructose intolerance, which is when your body can't digest the sugar, according to the NLM. It causes symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Low blood sugar
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • In extreme cases, seizures or coma

And you don't have to have one of these conditions to be sensitive to fructose — digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can also make it difficult for you to digest the sugar, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

People with IBS can have different triggers, but high-fructose foods are a common culprit and can cause symptoms like gas, bloating and bowel movement changes.

Fix it:​ If you regularly experience side effects after eating strawberries, talk to your doctor to see if you may have fructose malabsorption or IBS. Limiting your fructose intake may help you manage your symptoms, per the Mayo Clinic.

If you're diagnosed with hereditary fructose intolerance, you'll want to avoid fructose-containing foods entirely to prevent health complications and organ damage, according to the NLM.

Tip

If you notice strawberries in your poop, this could be due to their high fiber content, eating too fast or not chewing enough, per the Mayo Clinic. But if strawberry in your poop is accompanied by other symptoms like weight loss or chronic diarrhea, talk to your doctor to see if an underlying condition is to blame.

3. You Have a Strawberry Intolerance

A food intolerance may be the reason why strawberries are hard to digest if the fruit regularly causes diarrhea or other bowel issues.

A food intolerance is when your body has trouble processing certain foods, per the Cleveland Clinic. It can cause symptoms like:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Headaches or migraines

Fix it:​ Limiting or avoiding trigger foods — strawberries or otherwise — may help quell your symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

4. You Have a Strawberry Allergy

Though uncommon, strawberries can also cause diarrhea if you're allergic to them.

Here's how to tell the difference between a food intolerance versus allergy: Intolerances primarily involve digestive distress, whereas allergic reactions occur when your immune system reacts to a food to produce the following symptoms, per the Mayo Clinic:

  • Itchy or tingly mouth
  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, throat or other body parts
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

Fix it:​ Talk to your doctor if you experience any of the signs of a food allergy after eating strawberries. If a strawberry allergy is to blame, avoiding the fruit can prevent symptoms, per the Mayo Clinic.

Warning

Some people can have an extreme allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, where your throat swells up and makes it hard to breathe, per the Mayo Clinic. Seek medical care immediately if this happens to you.

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