Why Does Eating Fruits & Vegetables Cause Diarrhea?

Man carrying crate of vegetables mid section
Farmer carrying a box of fresh vegetables. (Image: moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images)

Passing loose stools at least three times daily means you have diarrhea. Acute diarrhea -- which is common, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse -- typically lasts one to two days and alleviates on its own. Chronic diarrhea -- which last four weeks or longer -- may stem from a digestive disorder like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease. Although fruits and vegetables themselves typically do not cause diarrhea, they may contribute to your symptoms. To learn more regarding foods' effects on your condition, talk to your doctor or dietitian.

Relationship

Many fruits and vegetables provide significant amounts of fiber. Although fiber plays an important role in most healthy diets, it increases activity in your bowels, which can worsen diarrhea and related symptoms like abdominal pain. Eating raw fruits and vegetables in foreign countries can cause traveler's diarrhea -- a condition that annually affects 20 to 50 percent of international travelers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fruits and vegetables themselves do not cause traveler's diarrhea, but infectious agents they contain can.

Problem Varieties

To maintain low fiber intake while your diarrhea symptoms are present, avoid dried fruit, prune juice, raw fruits and vegetables, under-cooked vegetables and dried legumes including peas, lentils and dried beans. To lower your risk for traveler's diarrhea, avoid fruits and vegetables purchased from street vendors, particularly items peeled by vendors.

Acceptable Varieties

Typically, you can consume most well-cooked vegetables and canned and cooked fruits without skins, seeds or membranes with ease until your symptoms diminish. Fruit and vegetable juices with little or no pulp contain little fiber and provide valuable amounts of antioxidants -- which support your body's ability to heal -- and water, which guards against dehydration. Replenishing fluids lost through diarrhea is important, particularly if your symptoms are severe. To help prevent traveler's diarrhea, peel fruits and vegetables yourself prior to consumption, suggests the CDCP.

Additional Diet Suggestions

Other foods that can worsen diarrhea include fatty foods -- like fried foods and fatty meats -- and dairy products. Other high-fiber foods, like whole-grain breads, bran muffins and popcorn, can have similar effects. When your symptoms peak, stick with fluids -- including gelatin, water and pure juices -- other than apple and pear juice. As your symptoms diminish, gradually incorporate bland, low-fiber foods into your diet. Valuable options include soda crackers, plain white toast, baked chicken breast and eggs.

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