Over the years, I have compiled a list of strategies to decrease diarrhea. My book goes into detail for each of these strategies, and includes even more!
- Determine if you have lactose intolerance. Try a lactose challenge.
- Determine if you have fructose intolerance. Fructose is a type of sugar. Cut back on very sweet or rich foods, especially desserts.
- Minimize insoluble fiber intake. Try the Easy-to-Digest and Low-Fiber Diet in Appendix C. Soluble fiber is allowed.
- Avoid sugar-free gum, candy, and medications that contain the sugar alcohols sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol.
- Cut back or eliminate anything that contains caffeine, including coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, energy drinks, or diet pills. Caffeine makes everything in the intestine move through faster.
- Limit intake of acidic, spicy, or high-fat foods, which can aggravate diarrhea.
- Limit intake of alcohol-containing beverages. Alcohol has a stimulating effect on the bowel, aggravating diarrhea and causing gas.
- Manage your stress through exercise, prayer, yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, biofeedback, or hypnotherapy.
- Take a probiotic as directed on the bottle for at least three to six months.
- Discuss your medications with your physician or pharmacist to determine if any are aggravating diarrhea. Request alternative medications without this side effect.
- Try taking loperamide (Imodium®) as directed on the box.
- Avoid bulk-forming fiber supplements such as Metamucil® or Citrucel®, which often exacerbate diarrhea.
- If you have irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), try the FODMAP carbohydrate elimination diet.
- Get tested for celiac disease, a digestive disorder that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. Treatment for celiac disease requires a lifelong gluten-free diet. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley.
- Consider medical evaluation for food allergies , bile-acid diarrhea, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
- Take calcium supplements. Most people do not consume enough calcium, and it’s constipating.
- If you have been told you are anemic or need more iron, take iron supplements. They are constipating too.
Note: there is now a free downloadable handout with this information on my website!