Why Do Salads Give Me Diarrhea
It’s the salad bar all over again. You’ve loaded up your plate with lettuce and tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, peppers and mushrooms, maybe even some black olives and feta cheese — but halfway through dinner you start feeling queasy. Maybe it was the dressing, or maybe the fact that the salad was raw. But whatever the reason, there’s no need for concern. Just know that if you eat certain foods in large quantities (or at least when you do so on occasion), you may experience unpleasant side effects like nausea, diarrhea and gas. In this article we’ll find out why salads can make us feel ill, as well as what to do about them.
Salad is one of those things people either love or hate. It’s hard to say which side feels stronger. For many people, salads are a healthy alternative to burgers and fries. The problem is that while salads are often good for you, they also contain ingredients that can cause stomach problems for some people. Let’s take a look at what makes a salad green unappetizing.
The main culprit behind most cases of digestive distress after eating a salad is its high fiber content. Fiber is found naturally in plants, especially fruits and vegetables. We use it to help break down carbs and other foods into their component parts. Some types of fiber, such as soluble fibers from oats and barley, work by coating our intestinal walls. This slows down digestion, helping food move along through the gut faster. Soluble fiber prevents blood-clotting agents from sticking to our intestinal walls. As a result, the lining becomes less prone to irritation and infection. Insoluble fibers, which come primarily from wheat, corn, rice and potatoes, absorb water in the intestinal lumen (the space between the outer layer of cells covering the intestine) and swell up to form bulk. These fibers add bulk to stools and prevent constipation. They also create friction within the bowel wall itself, causing muscle contractions. When these muscles contract, they push against the inner lining of the bowel, encouraging peristalsis (which is the movement of fluid toward the anus). Without enough bulk and friction, the colon doesn’t get enough stimulation to move waste around efficiently.
Fiber isn’t necessarily bad for everybody. People who suffer from chronic diarrhea or constipation usually have trouble processing it properly. Those with celiac disease or other food allergies will have negative reactions to consuming too much fiber. And if you don’t produce enough saliva to swallow properly, fiber can actually irritate your mouth and throat.
So, how can you tell whether you’re going to be affected? One way is to see a doctor if symptoms persist after three months. A gastroenterologist can check you out and recommend a diet plan tailored to your specific needs.
If you want to avoid future bouts with indigestion, here are some tips:
Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and drink plenty of fluids.
Avoid overly spicy, salty, fried foods.
Don’t skip meals; eat smaller portions throughout the day.
Never overeat; when dining out, bring a small container of crackers with you.
Make sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D, both of which are fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to osteoarthritis, rickets, and kidney stones. Calcium helps protect joints and bones, and it promotes strong teeth, gums, and nails.
As far as salads go, keep in mind that the longer a vegetable sits in warm temperatures, the tougher it gets. That means it takes longer for the body to digest it. Raw broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage are best suited for salads eaten cold. Broccoli should be steamed lightly first to soften the thick stem portion, otherwise it’s difficult to cut. Cauliflower should be cooked until soft before serving. Brussels sprouts should be left whole; they taste better this way. Cabbage shouldn’t sit long enough to toughen it up. To keep fresh greens crisp, serve them immediately.
To ensure freshness, wash your greens right away and dry off any excess moisture. Don’t store them in plastic bags; instead, wrap tightly in paper towels and put in a loose-leaf bag, which allows air circulation. Store them in the refrigerator crisper drawer.
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