Updated: Jan 17
👉🏻Fluids: There are so many people that over hydrate (I am envious, how do you remember to drink so many fluids?). However, too much of anything isn’t great and you can over hydrate. You can dilute your electrolytes levels leading to worsening nausea and diarrhea.
🚨Pro Tip: aim for half of your body weight in fl. oz. per day (ex: If you weigh 150 lbs. aim for 75 fluid ounces per day).
👉🏻FIBER: Now that we addressed the water intake, let’s address the fiber intake. Soluble fiber is ideal for you, it is possible that insoluble fiber may worsen things for you. Of course, you need and want both but you should be having more of a focus on soluble fibers.
🚨Pro Tip: Add 1 tbsp. of psyllium husk fiber to your morning smoothies!
👉🏻Stress: If you are someone who struggles with loose stool, you likely have anxiety about urgency and knowing where bathrooms are at all times. Stress and anxiety are very connected to urgency and loose stool. If your body is constantly in fight or flight mode from elevated levels of cortisol, you may find that your gut function is seriously off. You are someone who would benefit from adrenal testing and incorporating stress management techniques.
🚨Pro Tip: You, my friend, are the people who will greatly benefit from breathing exercises. I highly recommend you start doing 4-7-8 breathing at minimum before you get out of bed first thing in the morning, before you eat lunch and right when you lay in bed at night.
For calming down in the moment: 4-7-8 breathing; 4 sec in, 7 sec hold, 8 sec out. Repeat x 3-4 breaths. For mindful maintenance: 5-5-5 breathing; 5 sec in, 5 sec hold, 5 sec out. Repeat throughout the day.
👉🏻Stomach acid - When your stomach acid production is low it can contribute to your loose stools and urgency. When you don’t digest proteins well and larger molecules make it to the intestines, your body is going to have greater immunological response to the food. If your body is confused or overwhelmed, it is going to try to get rid of the food as soon as possible which may stimulate this urgency to get rid of something it does not like or want inside of it.
🚨Pro Tip: Try the baking soda test at home. Mix 1/4 tsp of fresh baking soda into 8 oz of room temp water prior to eating breakfast. Note how long it takes you to start getting burpy. If its under 5 minutes your stomach acid levels are fine. If it takes over this amount you might want to start diving a bit deeper into this topic.
👉🏻Food sensitivities - so many foods can cause symptoms and diarrhea can be how the sensitivity presents. Most of us have heard of gluten and dairy being big offenders but any food can really be problematic. The most common offenders are: gluten, dairy, corn, soy, shellfish, and eggs! Best advice: trust the process and be patient.
🚨Pro Tip: Keeping a food journal is not only helpful for you but for your providers to start seeing trends. Mark when you have a bowel movement or urgency.
👉🏻Medication - I’m going to leave this one broad but even just going on the internet and seeing the side effects of your medications is a decent starting point. Then you need to asses did it get worse around the same time that you started it. At this point I would advise you bring it up to the practitioner that started you on it for discussion on any possible alternative option!
🚨Pro Tip: Supplements can contribute to your diarrhea as well- don’t rule them out as a part of the cause.
👉🏻GI Infections: I highly encourage you, if feasible in your lifestyle, to work with a functional medicine provider to have a comprehensive stool test and SIBO test done.
🚨Pro Tip: Main infections that cause diarrhea: Hydrogen SIBO, dysbiotic flora (imbalance of the good and the bad bacteria), candida (yeast) overgrowth. Most of us can’t just take a probiotic, eat some veggies and call it a day and these infections will go away.
Katie Morra MS, RD, LDN, IFMCP is an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner and Registered Dietitian specializing in gut health, the microbiome, and nutrition. Her functional medicine nutrition practice is based in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.
Katie focuses on the root causes of inflammation, autoimmune disease, irritable bowel syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, candida overgrowth, food sensitivities and leaky gut, amongst other chronic disease states.