Foods to Avoid With Fecal Incontinence

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Fecal incontinence is the involuntary loss of bowel control. Injury, illness and your diet can all be contributing factors in fecal incontinence. Foods that are more likely to give you diarrhea may cause the leakage that is consistent with incontinence. Keeping an elimination diary may help you determine which specific foods you should avoid. If you are suffering from fecal incontinence, contact your health provider for a check-up to make sure there is no serious underlying cause.

Caffeine and Alcohol

Italian Espresso
Cup of coffee (Image: LennartK/iStock/Getty Images)

Caffeine and alcohol are both chemicals that can upset your stomach and digestive system when used frequently. People who are diagnosed with fecal incontinence already have a delicate digestive tract and need to play it safe around substances that are known irritants. Avoid drinking soft drinks, coffee and tea that contains caffeine and eliminate alcohol from your diet if these beverages cause an increase in your incontinence. Alcohol and caffeine are also bladder irritants, which could increase your urge to urinate as well as to have a bowel movement.

Dairy

still life of dairy products
Assorted dairy products (Image: olgakr/iStock/Getty Images)

Dairy products, including milk, yogurt and cheeses, can worsen diarrhea and fecal incontinence, especially if you are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is the condition in which you cannot digest milk products because you lack the enzyme lactase. Diarrhea, gas and bloating are symptoms of lactose intolerance; fecal incontinence may follow if diarrhea is prolonged or severe. If you do consume dairy products and experience bowel incontinence, ask your doctor about taking a lactase supplement.

Gluten

Loaf of multigrain bread
Wheat and loaf of bread (Image: Elena Elisseeva/iStock/Getty Images)

People who have gluten sensitivities or celiac disease may also be more prone to developing bowel incontinence due to the chronic diarrhea that they may experience. Gluten is found in bread products that are made from wheat, barley or rye flours. A wide variety of baked goods, crackers and packaged foods contain gluten, which could cause uncomfortable bowel symptoms. Switch to gluten-free products instead of your normal breads and snacks if gluten could be a factor in your fecal incontinence.

Sweeteners

Coke
Two glasses filled with cola (Image: Siraphol/iStock/Getty Images)

Sweeteners, including sorbitol, fructose and mannitol, are common diarrhea triggers, which could intensify fecal incontinence. These sweeteners are often found in soft drinks and sugar-free chewing gum and candies. Read the ingredient list of your sweet treats before consuming items that contain artificial sweeteners, or opt for soft drinks and candy that contain sugar. Eat all sweets in moderation to prevent fecal incontinence and diarrhea, as well as tooth decay.

Foods That Help

potatos
Potatoes on wood table (Image: Simon Ingate/iStock/Getty Images)

There are foods that may improve your condition, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Eating 20 to 35 grams of fiber and drinking eight, 8-ounce glasses of water are a good place to start. Caffeinated and carbonated drinks may actually trigger diarrhea, so it is best to avoid them. High fiber foods include beans, potatoes, broccoli, peas and fruits.

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