Are there any foods that cause diarrhea?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Pizza and other spicy foods can cause diarrhea.

Watch the video to learn from Dr. Oz what other foods can cause diarrhea.

Patsy Catsos
Nutrition & Dietetics
The answer to this question can be different for each person. Just because a particular food is a common food trigger for diarrhea, doesn't mean it is for you. You should make a serious attempt to figure out your personal food triggers if you have chronic diarrhea. If you limit your diet too much based on everything you read and hear about, you might not get a wide enough variety of essential nutrients!

One way to begin figuring this out is to keep a food and symptom diary. You might begin to notice a pattern. Remember, there can be a delay between the time you eat the offending food and the symptoms you experience, so look back at least a day when a problem crops up. For example, one of my patients thought his breakfast food was causing diarrhea, but we traced the problem back to lactose intolerance from eating ice cream the night before each incident of diarrhea. If the diary doesn't help you figure out your food triggers, you might learn a lot from trying a kind of learning diet called an "elimination diet". Ask your health care provider if an elimination diet can help you, or seek help from a dietitian.
Diarrhea is a common problem that happens to everyone from time to time. It's usually the body's way of trying to get rid of bacteria or a virus. But certain foods, as well as stress and anxiety, also may trigger bouts of diarrhea.

For some people, especially those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, or celiac disease, certain foods may irritate the bowel and lead to diarrhea. The following foods and drinks seem to cause the most problems:
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine in soda, tea, coffee, and chocolate
  • Nicotine
  • Foods that cause gas, such as beans, broccoli, and apples
  • Spicy foods
  • Foods high in acid, such as oranges and other citrus fruit
  • Fatty foods, such as bacon, sausage, butter, oils, and anything deep-fried
  • Dairy products, particularly for people who are lactose intolerant

Some people are sensitive to gluten -- a protein in breads, pasta, and other baked goods -- which can cause a range of symptoms, from diarrhea to constipation.

If you suspect certain foods may be causing your symptoms, try eliminating them from your diet one at a time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.