Frequent bouts of diarrhoea can be caused by stress, medication and yes, what you've eaten.
Whilst we've all likely experienced food poisoning at one time or another, for some people certain foods just don't agree with them.
If you know that certain foods trigger your diarrhoea it's easy enough to avoid them – problem solved.
However, if you aren't sure whether your diet is affecting your diarrhoea it may be wise to eat as many gut-friendly foods as you can and be aware that your choice of foods can make your symptoms better - or worse.
But if your diet hasn't changed, and your diarrhoea doesn't settle within a week or two, then seek medical advice to rule out any digestive problems. This is especially true if you're having diarrhoea three or more times a day.
What's good to eat?
- Choose a healthy, varied diet, which includes healthy sources of protein, fats and carbohydrates. The greater the number of foods in your diet, the more dilute the effect of any particular one. If you're finding it difficult to identify food culprits, check with your doctor or a dietitian to find ways to manage this.
- Choose small, frequent meals low in fibre – choose white bread, white pasta and rice over wholemeal bread, wholegrain pasta and brown rice. Nuts and seeds may be best avoided, too, whilst you're trying to lessen symptoms.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in soluble fibre, a gel-type fibre that can help firm up the stool (poo) and relieve symptoms of diarrhoea in many. For people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) soluble fibres can cause wind and loose stools. A dietitian appointment can help you identify trigger foods for your diarrhoea, and find ways to avoid them.
- For people with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, a diet plan tailored to control your symptoms can be developed with a dietitian. Soluble fibre-rich foods act as prebiotics to help maintain healthy gut bacteria, but reintroduction of these types of foods may need to be gradual.
- Make sure you stay well hydrated. Having frequent diarrhoea can cause dehydration. Drinking little and often throughout the day, especially with meals, helps prevent this. Soup, tea, coffee, water, squash and fruit juice all count – providing they don't worsen your symptoms.