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Foods Causing Diarrhea or Gas


Spoiled Food

Food may be spoiled from various reasons:

  • contamination with bacteria or parasites(vegetables contamination with infected cattle manure, meat contamination during slaughtering, poisoning with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria by infected food worker, drinking infected water);
  • contamination with heavy metals (lead, mercury) if vegetables are raised beside a high-traffic road or industrial zones;
  • ciguatera fish poisoning: big tropical fish (tuna, barracuda) accumulate ciguatera toxin by eating small fish which have ingested ciguatoxin from reaf algae; occurs mostly in Caribbeans, Australia, India;
  • innappropriate storing (leaving a raw peace of meat on room temperature for 1 hour may cause enable enough bacterial overgrowth to cause food poisoning);
  • exceeded expiration date: overgrowth of bacteria or yeasts, chemical change of food.

Irritant Foods

Food Irritation Due to Excessive Ingestion

  • alcoholin excess may temporarily impair intesinal mucosa and hence absorption
  • spices may stimulate peristalsis
  • legumes (beans, peas, lentils): gas is produced by normal intestinal bacteria when they break down cellulose from legumes

     Picture 1. Legumes, like beans often cause gas

  • sweets: gas is produced by intestinal bacteria when a lot of sugars is delivered into intestine
  • artificial sweeteners: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), sorbitol and other polyols (polyols are sugar alcohols, on labels you can recognise them by -tol ending); they may drag water into intestine and get fermented by intestinal bacteria thus cause diarrhea
  • fruits: fibers and fructose (read bellow) may cause diarrhea and gas

Problematic Foods in Food Intolerances

Fruits and Vegatables

As surprising as this may sounds, but fruits and vegetables commonly cause digestion problems. A healthy person can absorb only about 25-50 g of fructose (fruit sugar) per serving. When this amount is exceeded unabsorbed fructose reaches the colon, where bacteria degrade it and produce gas. Unabsorbed glucose also causes diarrhea. A person with fructose malabsorption can absorb fructose in amount lower than 25 g per serving.

Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and Vegetables

 Picture 2. Fruit and Vegetables cause diarrhea and gas in fructose malabsorption

Fruits to avoid in fructose malabsorption: apples, pears, plums, cherries, honeydew melon and all dried fruits, including prunes, raisins, figs and dates. Fruit juices, compotes, jams and marmalades are also problematic.

Vegetables which may be problematic in fructose malabsorptin: tomatoes, cooked carrots, cauliflower, artichokes, chicory.


A person with fructose malabsorption should avoid excessive amount of honey, which contains fructose.

Wheat (and other cereals)

Wheatcan cause bloating and diarrhea in persons with fructose malabsorption. Some children (also some adults) are allergic to wheat.

Wheat, barley and rye contain gluten which triggers small intestinal inflammation, which can lead to chronic diarrhea. This genetic disorder is called celiac disease (details - link 2 in references).


Milk is not considered to be a healthy food, mostly because of its highly saturated fat.



Picture 3. Milk causes diarrhea and gas in lactose intolerance

The other common problem with milk is milk sugar – lactose. Persons with lactose intolerance (details - link 3 in references), which may develop in any person at any time, get diarrhea and gas after drinking even small amount of milk, other dairy, and many commercial products with lactose. Cow’s milk is also a common cause of milk allergy in children.


Soy is another common cause of allergies in children. Soy sauce usually contains fructose, which is problematic in fructose malabsorption. Fibers from soy may cause bloating.

Fish, Shellfish, Peanuts, Tree-nuts

Fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree-nuts are common causes of allergies in adults.

Foods to Limit in Peptic Ulcer /Gastric Reflux

In gastric reflux, the following foods should be limited:

  • meat, eggs, milk, nuts, oils: these foods are rich in fats and proteins, which stay for a long time in the stomach
  • vinegar, alcohol, vitamin C, aspirin, ibuprofen: all these items are acidic

Foods Causing Smelly Gas


Fats cannot be properly absorbed in a gallstone which blocks the biliary duct, in pancreatic disease and in some small intestinal diseases.

Sulphur-rich Foods

Rotten-eggs smelly gas may result from intestinal bacterial fermentaion of the following foods:

  • spices: garlic, onions, tumeric, parsley
  • grains: corn, sunflower seeds, oats, chocolate, cashews, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds (in that order)
  • vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cabbages, pak choi, mustard, spinach, sweet potatoes, swis chard, yams, tomatoes, watercress.
  • legumes
  • fruits: avocado, watermelon
  • red meats
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • whey
  • vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cabbages, pak choi, mustard, spinach, sweet potatoes, swis chard, yams, tomatoes, watercress.
  • fruits: avocado, watermelon
  • tea and coffee
  • References:


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