Diarrhea From Plant Based Diet - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 07-15-2015, 02:35 PM
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Diarrhea From Plant Based Diet

Okay, so first off sorry about the gory details here, but I'd really like some advice. I recently switched to an almost entirely vegetarian diet. I eat about 4 oz of fish or chicken 1-2 times per week, and have an egg in something about once a week. Other than that, my diet has been all plant based foods for about 10 days. Ever since I switched my diet, I have had diarrhea. And yes, it's diarrhea, not just more frequent BMs. It's driving me insane having to use the restroom every 20 min, especially at work when I have to walk through the entire facility to get there, alerting everyone that once again I have to poop. It's uncomfortable and making meetings at work a nightmare. I am afraid to go out with friends or leave the house for too long. I'm an avid hiker and kayaker so this is really limiting my lifestyle. I am hoping this is just my body adjusting and detoxing. So I'm wondering, if anyone else had this problem, how long did it take for your guts to settle down? Did you try a probiotic that helped at all? Any other suggestions? Im seriously avoiding eating solid food right now because I pay the consequences 45 min later. Help!!!

Side note:
I have celiac disease and I've been gluten free for 13 years, so it's not a gluten intolerance.
I also have IBS (they say) which is usually triggered by dairy, despite the fact that I'm not actually lactose intolerant. I'm not eating a lot of beans and most of the veggies I eat are cooked. I also eat breads and rice frequently so I don't think FODMAPs are to blame here.
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#2 Old 07-15-2015, 05:30 PM
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Are you getting enough fiber? Sometimes gluten free grains are lower in fiber and nutrients, though quinoa and buckwheat groats are fairly decent. Do you eat leafy greens? Fruits with skins like apples? How about ground flaxseed? These foods might help slow things down a bit. Dairy used to bind me up a lot (I once had terrible IBS and also endometriosis affecting my digestion many years ago). When I quit dairy my digestion improved considerably. For some, getting dairy out of the diet may cause more bowel movements for a time. Just a thought.

Another thought...maybe you are inadvertantly eating something with gluten in it? Have you introduced any new plant based foods in your diet recently? I know that some foods like tempeh can contain hidden wheat/gluten in them depending on the brand.

I couldn't tolerate tofu for my first two years vegan. I would have terrible cramps followed by explosive diarrhea. Same with cashews. A long time later, very slowly, I reincorporated tofu into my diet when I discovered sprouted tofu and surprise I could eat it fine! Later I incorporated cashews and again no problems, though I am still careful with those. I was already eating many beans and veggies for years before becoming vegan (I went from omni to vegan) so I imagine my body was used to eating so many plants by the time I made the switch. However, I once tried going all raw vegan for a solid week and I was running to the bathroom five to ten times a day. That was a time when I did it full on, no gradual shift to raw. You just may need more time to adjust and may have to take things slower.

Strangely, I have also found that some calcium supplements will slow my system down a little, or if it contains magnesium in the mix, speed things up.

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#3 Old 07-15-2015, 05:40 PM
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This is likely not related to your plant based diet -- needing to have a bowel movement every 20 minutes isn't normal and it isn't "detox" (there really is no such thing as "detox" when you switch to a veggie diet anyway -- there's no reason you should feel worse). Have you checked with your doctor? Hope you feel better soon.

Fiber can certainly effect bowel movements, but not to this degree.
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#4 Old 07-17-2015, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Naturebound View Post
Are you getting enough fiber? Sometimes gluten free grains are lower in fiber and nutrients, though quinoa and buckwheat groats are fairly decent. Do you eat leafy greens? Fruits with skins like apples? How about ground flaxseed? These foods might help slow things down a bit. Dairy used to bind me up a lot (I once had terrible IBS and also endometriosis affecting my digestion many years ago). When I quit dairy my digestion improved considerably. For some, getting dairy out of the diet may cause more bowel movements for a time. Just a thought.

Another thought...maybe you are inadvertantly eating something with gluten in it? Have you introduced any new plant based foods in your diet recently? I know that some foods like tempeh can contain hidden wheat/gluten in them depending on the brand.

I couldn't tolerate tofu for my first two years vegan. I would have terrible cramps followed by explosive diarrhea. Same with cashews. A long time later, very slowly, I reincorporated tofu into my diet when I discovered sprouted tofu and surprise I could eat it fine! Later I incorporated cashews and again no problems, though I am still careful with those. I was already eating many beans and veggies for years before becoming vegan (I went from omni to vegan) so I imagine my body was used to eating so many plants by the time I made the switch. However, I once tried going all raw vegan for a solid week and I was running to the bathroom five to ten times a day. That was a time when I did it full on, no gradual shift to raw. You just may need more time to adjust and may have to take things slower.

Strangely, I have also found that some calcium supplements will slow my system down a little, or if it contains magnesium in the mix, speed things up.

BTW, welcome to VB!

Thanks for your response! Things have slowed marginally but I'm still using the restroom about every hour. I am definitely getting plenty of fiber, I eat a lot of yams, brown/wilds rice, chickpeas, spinach, romaine, and tons of veggies. I also drink a Raw Meal shake every morning for breakfast that has a lot of fiber. I'm wondering if maybe the drastic shift in fiber intake is causing this?

I'm definitely not ingesting gluten. I'm very careful with checking all foods, and I only eat whole produce and specifically gf marked breads. I don't eat any packaged or processed foods besides bread, and I'm not eating any tofu or tempeh.

I'm not eating anything new that I haven't eaten before, and I've never had problems with anything im eating before, I'm just eating much higher quantities of all these plant foods than I used to. Could this sudden increase in fiber upset my digestional tract enough to cause this? I do have some IBS so maybe the fiber increase was just enough to irritate things?
Besides the abdominal pain and diarrhea I feel really great and energetic, and I'm losing some stubborn weight so I would like to keep eating like this, but I cannot have this chronic diarrhea
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#5 Old 07-17-2015, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by wander-lust View Post
Thanks for your response! Things have slowed marginally but I'm still using the restroom about every hour. I am definitely getting plenty of fiber, I eat a lot of yams, brown/wilds rice, chickpeas, spinach, romaine, and tons of veggies. I also drink a Raw Meal shake every morning for breakfast that has a lot of fiber. I'm wondering if maybe the drastic shift in fiber intake is causing this?

I'm definitely not ingesting gluten. I'm very careful with checking all foods, and I only eat whole produce and specifically gf marked breads. I don't eat any packaged or processed foods besides bread, and I'm not eating any tofu or tempeh.

I'm not eating anything new that I haven't eaten before, and I've never had problems with anything im eating before, I'm just eating much higher quantities of all these plant foods than I used to. Could this sudden increase in fiber upset my digestional tract enough to cause this? I do have some IBS so maybe the fiber increase was just enough to irritate things?
Besides the abdominal pain and diarrhea I feel really great and energetic, and I'm losing some stubborn weight so I would like to keep eating like this, but I cannot have this chronic diarrhea
Maybe try cutting out the shake in the morning and have regular food instead. I feel like things that are fortified with 'sneaky fiber' (like inulin) can cause GI issues. I also have IBS and have to be careful with fiber as too much of it makes me go in the other direction. Looks like that Raw Meal stuff also has apple, garlic, and onion in it. All of those are IBS/FODMAP triggers for me.

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#6 Old 07-17-2015, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by wander-lust View Post
Thanks for your response! Things have slowed marginally but I'm still using the restroom about every hour. I am definitely getting plenty of fiber, I eat a lot of yams, brown/wilds rice, chickpeas, spinach, romaine, and tons of veggies. I also drink a Raw Meal shake every morning for breakfast that has a lot of fiber. I'm wondering if maybe the drastic shift in fiber intake is causing this?

I'm definitely not ingesting gluten. I'm very careful with checking all foods, and I only eat whole produce and specifically gf marked breads. I don't eat any packaged or processed foods besides bread, and I'm not eating any tofu or tempeh.

I'm not eating anything new that I haven't eaten before, and I've never had problems with anything im eating before, I'm just eating much higher quantities of all these plant foods than I used to. Could this sudden increase in fiber upset my digestional tract enough to cause this? I do have some IBS so maybe the fiber increase was just enough to irritate things?
Besides the abdominal pain and diarrhea I feel really great and energetic, and I'm losing some stubborn weight so I would like to keep eating like this, but I cannot have this chronic diarrhea
Then it could very well be the drastic increase in fiber. I wonder if you could swap out a few of those foods for lower fiber foods and see if that helps? Tofu is supposed to be easy to digest (my case was probably not the norm) and is relatively low in fiber. Maybe peanut butter or nut butter in place of bean calories might help too. Do you drink plant milks at all? Maybe your system just needs some time to get used to the increased fiber/roughage. Stuff like potatoes, bananas, pasta (in your case quinoa, corn or brown rice pasta) or fruits like cantaloupe or melon might be easier to handle too. Smoothies have helped me in the past when I was having digestive issues, but the protein powder addition might make it worse. Just a thought. Sounds really miserable! I hope it continues to get better for you! I wouldn't have much energy if I were going that much. :/

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#7 Old 07-18-2015, 09:26 AM
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If you have had a symptom like that for 10 days you should really go an see a doctor. Diarrhea can be a symptom of many diseases and things like food poisoning. I wouldn't automatically assume it is the diet causing it. Vegan/vegetarian/plant based fiber filled diets are known to cause more stool, not diarrhea.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)

"Diarrhoea is usually a symptom of an infection in the intestinal tract, which can be caused by a variety of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms. Infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking-water, or from person-to-person as a result of poor hygiene."

If you have an infection or a parasite, you may want to see a doctor. They can test your stool sample and rule that out, or confirm it.

It is also often associated with dehydration.
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#8 Old 07-18-2015, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Scorpius View Post
Maybe try cutting out the shake in the morning and have regular food instead. I feel like things that are fortified with 'sneaky fiber' (like inulin) can cause GI issues. I also have IBS and have to be careful with fiber as too much of it makes me go in the other direction. Looks like that Raw Meal stuff also has apple, garlic, and onion in it. All of those are IBS/FODMAP triggers for me.
Actually, the only thing I'm pretty confident ISNT causing this is the shake. I have been drinking the shake every morning for about 3 months before I switched my diet to plant based and had no trouble, I was actually much more regular after I starting drinking it each day. I usually do fine in the mornings after my shake, but as soon as I eat lunch the storm starts brewing in my stomach

Last edited by wander-lust; 07-18-2015 at 02:32 PM.
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#9 Old 07-18-2015, 02:43 PM
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If you have had a symptom like that for 10 days you should really go an see a doctor. Diarrhea can be a symptom of many diseases and things like food poisoning. I wouldn't automatically assume it is the diet causing it. Vegan/vegetarian/plant based fiber filled diets are known to cause more stool, not diarrhea.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)

"Diarrhoea is usually a symptom of an infection in the intestinal tract, which can be caused by a variety of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms. Infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking-water, or from person-to-person as a result of poor hygiene."

If you have an infection or a parasite, you may want to see a doctor. They can test your stool sample and rule that out, or confirm it.

It is also often associated with dehydration.
The only reason I haven't seen a doctor is because my digestive tract is infamous for doing this. I'm not waking up in the night to go, which would be the case if I really did have an infection or something. I see a gastroenterologist for my "IBS" and I also have functional vomiting syndrome. I had something similar to this last summer and every dr thought it was an infection but it wasn't. Which is why they diagnosed me with "IBS". I put this in quotes because following a FODMAP diet doesn't help. My dr told me "you never really know what will set it off - one day it could be fats, carbs the next, and fiber the day after that." Last time cutting back on dairy seemed to help, and I went on smooth muscle relaxers for this before but they made me constipated and I gained weight, so I know if I go to the dr she will just try to put me back on them.
The reason I'm blaming the diet switch is because it started the day after I switched my diet. Nothing else changed, I just started eating a lot more veggies. I'm also exercising about 60 min a day, which I wasn't before. I drink around 2-3 liters of water per day
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#10 Old 07-18-2015, 05:26 PM
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Have you been eating more processed soy products (faux meats, soy dairy replacements, tofu ext...)? Excessive soy consumption doesn't agree with some people (it doesn't with me!). If I were you, I would eliminate foods/food groups one at a time (for a week, before reintroducing) and see if one particular food is setting it off. I suspect your eating something that is irritating your digestive tract and exactly what that is may not be immediately apparent. With the drastic increase of fruits and veggies you've taken on recently, something your intolerant too may now be being consumed in great enough quantities to have a noticeable effect. Soy would be the logical place to start, followed by leafy greens and cruciferous veggies (those 2 groups, especially when consumed raw, are also common in causing diarrhea).

And just so you have a gauge of normal, a high fruit and veg diet WILL make your stools much softer and you will pass more per BM than on a "normal" diet. It is normal on a high-fiber diet to go 3-4 times a day. However, you shouldn't be having excessive gas or pains, nor liquid diarrhea. That indicates an intolerance of some kind.

One last thing, my first few weeks on a raw diet, I had terrible digestive issues (pain, diarrhea, cramps ect...). It took about 2 weeks to finally subside and my body to begin to adapt to processing all the extra fiber and moisture from the increased amounts of fruit and veg.

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Last edited by Kiwibird08; 07-18-2015 at 05:33 PM.
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#11 Old 07-19-2015, 03:00 PM
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You might find it useful to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian that specializes in IBS. They can work with your physician to identify possible foods that are triggering your digestive problems.


In the United States, you can find a local Registered Dietitian through this website: http://www.eatright.org . Just click on the "Find an Expert" button, located in the upper-right-hand portion of the webpage.


In the U.K., you can find a local Registered Dietitian on the Freelance Dietitians website: http://www.freelancedietitians.org/


In New Zealand, you can find a local Registered Dietitian through the Dietitians New Zealand website: http://dietitians.org.nz/find-a-dietitian/


In Canada, you can find a local Registered Dietitian at the Dietitians of Canada website: http://www.dietitians.ca/Find-a-Dietitian.aspx .

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