Foods that Affect Your Bowels

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Most parents have heard about the BRAT diet for diarrhea in youngsters. What we eat can play a significant role in our bowel health. That doesn’t mean we should avoid eating certain things. It means we need to keep it in balance.

Cause and Effect: If you eat something, it is very likely you will soon have a bowel movement. It’s sort of like an assembly line; if you put something in, something has to come out. That is the normal way of things. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work quite that way.

Constipation: A lot of things can cause this problem. Medications, dehydration and over consumption of certain foods are three of the top contenders. Foods that are high in fat and/or low in fiber are the most common culprit. If you depend on frozen dinners for your meals, this can be a problem. Other foods include meat, cheese and even ice cream.

There are those of us with no real reason to actually cook. You may live alone, or you’re two working empty nesters. This makes it very important to carefully choose what you have with that frozen dinner. Simply adding a healthy salad, whole wheat bread and fruit for dessert can improve your odds of avoiding constipation.

Diarrhea: I learned as a young child (and the hard way) that eating a large amount of grapes can have some very unpleasant results. Grapes are one of my most favorite fruits, but I now know to limit consumption to one serving a day. Most other raw fruits and vegetables have the same potential.

Surprisingly, some of the foods that cause constipation can cause diarrhea. That’s particularly so of red meat and any sort of fat. Artificial sweeteners are on the list as well. Caffeine and alcohol can irritate the intestinal tract and cause diarrhea. Even carbonated beverages can be a problem.

Balance: If you look at these foods, many of them are things that we are told we should eat daily. Diarrhea isn’t a good reason to avoid fresh fruits and vegetables. Dairy products such as cheese contain calcium that helps us to keep our bones healthy. The answer, then is balance.

If you’ve had problems in this area, it’s a good idea to start a food diary. You should also note in it whether you are “regular,” constipated or having diarrhea. Look for patterns and see if there are areas that might need changed.

If trying this on your own doesn’t help, talk to your doctor. First off, you’ll want to rule out any medical condition that’s creating the problem. If that isn’t the case, the doctor can refer you to a nutritionist. You can show the nutritionist your food diary, and together you can work out a means of preventing the problem.

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