What Foods Can Cause Excessive Bowel Movements?

The number of bowel movements you have each day depends on a variety of individual factors, and normal bathroom habits are different for each person. Diarrhea is defined as loose, watery stools occurring more than three times in one day. In addition to bacteria, viruses, medications and some medication conditions, certain foods can increase the frequency of your bowel movements.

The fiber found in broccoli may cause increased trips to the bathroom. (Image: James Trice/iStock/Getty Images)

Insoluble Fiber

Eating too much fiber may cause gas and bloating. (Image: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images)

While you need insoluble fiber to promote digestive health and prevent constipation, if you eat too much or suddenly increase your fiber intake, it may cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. The recommended intake for dietary fiber is 25 grams daily for women and 38 grams for men. When you increase fiber in your diet, do it gradually to prevent unwanted side effects. Foods that are high in insoluble fiber include beans, green peas, sweet potatoes, broccoli, beans and whole grains, especially wheat bran.

Fatty Foods

Fried foods often cause the digestive system to go into overdrive. (Image: Mark Stout/iStock/Getty Images)

Fatty and greasy foods like red meat and fried foods can cause the digestive system to go into overdrive. Often your body simply cannot digest and absorb all the fat in extremely high-fat meals, which can cause an increase in bowel movements. Monitor the amount of butter and oils you use in your foods, and cut back where possible. Choose grilling over frying, and opt for low-fat or nonfat options of your favorite foods to get your digestive system back on track.

Milk and Dairy Products

Dairy products may cause bloating and diarrhea in lactose intolerant individuals. (Image: AD077/iStock/Getty Images)

Lactose intolerance is a common condition that is more likely to occur in adulthood. The condition arises when you lack the enzyme needed to digest lactose, which is a sugar found in milk and dairy products. People with lactose intolerance often experience digestive symptoms when they consume dairy products, including abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea. Some people with this condition may tolerate small amounts of lactose-containing products. Others may need to avoid milk, choose dairy products with less lactose such as yogurt and cheese, or take lactase enzyme tablets.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods trigger diarrhea for many. (Image: Philhillphotography/iStock/Getty Images)

Each individual has different types of foods that trigger diarrhea, and for many the offending source is spicy foods. The chemicals in spicy foods may irritate your stomach or cause indigestion. Spicy foods can also trigger acid reflux. The active ingredient in hot peppers -- capsaicin -- may increase digestive fluids in your stomach. However, capsaicin may actually help relieve diarrhea by fighting bacteria that can cause loose stools, according to Wake Forest Baptist Health.


Caffeine speeds up most of the body's regulatory processes. (Image: Warren Goldswain/iStock/Getty Images)

Caffeine speeds most of the body's regulatory processes, from heart rate to digestion, including stimulating muscles that push stools through your large intestine. If you consume a higher amount of caffeine than usual, you may see an increase in the frequency of your bowel movements. Consider drinking decaffeinated or caffeine-free beverages, and limit your chocolate consumption. If this does not help after a few days, another factor is likely to blame.

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