Always having to be close to a toilet can be quite limiting and cause a lot of stress. It can turn a seemingly normal trip to town, riding the train or getting stuck in traffic into a nightmare.
Every day, about 10 liters of fluid pass through the gastrointestinal tract. Most of it is absorbed by the small intestine. 1 - 2 liters move on to the large intestine which absorb some more, giving the stool a normal consistency.
When you have loose stool, the intestine has not been able to absorb enough fluid, making it more watery. It is often caused by foods that can irritate the gut, making it work to fast.
Some foods also have the ability to draw more fluid into the intestines making the stool more watery.
Coffee, high fat content, fibers, prunes, avocado, chewing gums and magnesium are some examples of foods that can irritate the intestine or drawn in additional water, contributing to diarrhea.
Harmful bacteria or parasites often cause diarrhea. This is a common cause if the onset is acute or during a trip abroad. Having a non acute infection that has not yet been detected is also more common than most people realize.
When you are having loose stool, your body also loses more water and can become dehydrated. Therefore, it is important to drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated. If you drink a lot of extra water, you should also consider adding some extra salt to maintain the right salt balance.
Another common cause is indigestion, a reduced ability to break down the food you eat. FODMAP (certain carbohydrates) and fat are the most common foods that are hard to digest. If you often suffer from loose stool in connection with meals or feel that you are regularly have a lot of gas and bloating, it can be a sign of poor digestion. Taking enzyme supplements that support digestion and help you break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the food you eat can usually help.
There are several different brands of enzymes to choose from. One of the best is Super Enzymes from NOW FOODS. It contains:
Enzymes: to break down fat, protein and carbohydrates
Betaine HCL: stomach acid to help digestion
Ox Bile: supports the digestion of fats.
Bromelaine, papain: from pineapple and papaya
A lot of good in the same capsule, instead of buying several different brands.
Three common symptoms:
The last one is usually considered the worst. This makes you very limited on trips and going on the town and requires careful planning to always know where the nearest toilet is. Those times that you do not make it in time can of course be extremely embarrassing and the thought of it can cause a lot of stress.
If you suffer from anal incontinence, this is an even bigger issue. Simply letting out gas or peeing (women) can cause some stool to come along for the ride..
There are two main mechanisms the lead to diarrhea.
1. Overactive gut: when the gut pushes its content forward too fast it doesn't have enough time to reabsorb enough water from the stool. Making it loose.
2. Drawing in water: certain carbohydrates can draw water into the gut. Making the stool more watery.
Following are more specific causes of diarrhea working in one or both of the mechanisms mentioned above.
FODMAP a group of certain carbohydrates that can be difficult to digest. They can cause diarrhea by drawing in a lot of fluid into the intestine. Common foods that contain a lot of FODMAP are onion, garlic, cabbage, mushroom, cauliflower, broccoli, avocado, plum, pear, apple, fig, milk, beans, lentils and wheat. But there are many more.
SIBO: means you have too many bacteria in the small intestine. Some of these can produce hydrogen that stimulates bowel movements and make it work faster.
Infection: harmful bacteria or parasites can irritate the gut and stimulate bowel movements. If you get acute, sudden diarrhea, it i often the cause. Especially if it happens when you are traveling abroad.
Coffee: can irritate the gut, causing it to work faster. As such, it has long been used as a laxative. If you drink several cups daily and regularly have loose stools, it is most likely a contributing factor.
Too much fat: fat stimulates the secretion of bile, which in turn can increase peristalsis.
Bile acid malabsorption: The majority of bile secreted into the small intestine should also be reabsorbed by the small intestine. If this ability is reduced, a great deal of bile acid can continue to the large intestine. There, it stimulates the colon to secrete more electrolytes and water, which makes the stool more watery.
Too much fibers: stimulates the movement of the bowel and is usually good against constipation. But for a delicate bowel it can be too much.
För mycket fibrer: stimulerar tarmen och är bra vid förstoppning. Men om du redan lider av diarré, eller äter för mycket fibrer kan du bli ännu lösare i magen.
Acute stress: less intense but prolonged stress often contributes to constipation. But acute stress often has the opposite effect and causes the intestines to want to empty itself faster.
These were some of the most common causes of diarrhea.
Below are some of the most effective natural methods to treat diarrhea. What works best will of course be dependant on the cause of the problem.
FODMAP / SCD diet: two diets that often help with stomach upsets. They are based on exclusion of certain types of carbohydrates, some of which are difficult to break down and may draw in additional water into the intestines.
Supplements with enzymes: that support digestion and helps break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the food you eat. If you often have loose stools after eating this is more likely. Or if you regularly experience gas or bloating. Which is often a sign of poor digestion. Then enzyme supplements can often help.
BRAT diet: In case of acute diarrhea, try temporarily to eat only B = banana, R = rice, A = applesauce and T = toast. Very easily digested, low on fiber and good against diarrhea.
Blueberry infusion: drink a decoction on blueberry powder or boil some blueberries for a few minutes and eat.
Saccharomyces Boulardii: A yeast that passes through the body in about 2 weeks and stimulates the immune system. Has been shown to be particularly helpful against antibiotic induced diarrhea.
Psyllium seed husk: can help against both diarrhea and constipation. Be sure to eat with at least 1 cup of water or sprinkle it over porridge or yogurt.
Reduce fiber / whole grains: because fiber stimulates the intestine, it may be useful to temporarily reduce the amount of fiber and allow it to heal. When the intestine has been allowed to heal more, you can gradually increase the amount again.
Avoid coffee: long use as a natural laxative. Try replacing the coffee with tea for 1 week and see if it helps.
Avoid magnesium: a supplement that can draw additional water into the intestine, making your stool looser.
Feel free to try some of these tips, most people experience a clear improvement.
Should it not be enough to get rid of the diarrhea you probably need a more comprehensive plan to correct the underlying causes.