Diarrhea is an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous symptom caused by an underlying issue such as infection or dehydration. Diarrhea lasting longer than just two days is considered serious and warrants a call to your doctor.
For tips on how to have better digestive health and prevent diarrhea, keep reading.
Practice Good Hygiene
Washing your hands is a vital way to prevent diarrhea because it removes harmful germs like bacteria and viruses from your hands.
Diarrhea is often caused by swallowing these germs, and they can easily spread from dirty hands to your mouth or food, causing infection and diarrhea.
Keeping your bathroom, kitchen, and common dwelling areas clean is also important for preventing cross contamination, which can cause diarrhea.
Drinking plenty of fluids can help prevent diarrhea by keeping your digestive system healthy and reducing the risk of conditions that can cause it.
Adequate hydration is essential for normal bowel function. Water helps your stools stay soft and easy to pass. Dehydration does the opposite, causing constipation, and diarrhea typically occurs when constipation passes.
Additionally, some causes of diarrhea are infectious, and staying hydrated supports the immune system, making you less likely to get sick.
Practice Safe Food Handling
Handling food safely is one of the most important ways to prevent diarrhea because it reduces the risk of eating contaminated food, a common cause of harsh diarrhea-causing infections.
To practice safe food handling, wash your hands before and after touching food, use separate cutting boards for raw and cooked foods, cook meat to the recommended temperatures, refrigerate perishable items below 40°F, and regularly clean and sanitize kitchen surfaces and utensils to prevent the spread of germs.
When dining out, it is important to choose reputable restaurants that follow safe food handling instructions.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Diet plays a major role in preventing diarrhea by supporting digestive health, gut microbiota balance, immune function, hydration, and reducing irritants, food allergens, and excessive fat intake.
Fiber-rich foods promote regular bowel movements, reducing constipation and the risk of diarrhea.
A healthy gut microbiome protects against harmful pathogens that can cause diarrhea.
Nutrient-dense foods boost the immune system’s ability to fight infections, including those leading to diarrhea.
Proper hydration is essential to prevent dehydration linked to diarrhea.
Limiting irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can reduce gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea.
Moderate intake of healthy fats supports efficient digestion and prevents malabsorption and diarrhea.
Minimizing exposure to food allergens can reduce gastrointestinal reactions, including diarrhea.
Avoid Contaminated Food and Water
Avoiding contaminated food and water is essential for preventing diarrhea because it reduces the risk of consuming harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Ingesting these microorganisms leads to gastrointestinal infections.
As mentioned above, practicing safe food handling and good hygiene will help you avoid contaminated food and water. However, it is important to add that food and water contamination is widespread in many countries, so vigilance should be had when traveling. When traveling, drink only from bottled water and avoid street food vendors.
Pay Attention to Expiration Dates
Paying attention to food expiration dates is essential for diarrhea prevention.
These dates, such as “sell by,” or ” best by,” and “use by,” are created by manufacturers to ensure food safety. Consuming expired food can encourage microbial growth, exposing you to harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli, which can cause gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea.
Additionally, expired or spoiled food may be contaminated due to improper storage or handling, increasing the risk of foodborne illnesses. Adhering to expiration dates reduces the risk of diarrhea and other digestive problems while promoting the consumption of safe, high-quality food.
Cook Your Food Properly
Cooking food properly is essential for preventing diarrhea, as it eliminates harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause food poisoning and diarrhea.
Cooking food to the recommended temperatures kills harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter.
Cooking also neutralizes viruses, such as norovirus, which can be present in raw or contaminated foods.
Cooking meat and other animal products destroys parasites, such as Toxoplasma and Trichinella.
Cooking also reduces the risk of cross-contamination in the kitchen, which can spread bacteria from raw foods to ready-to-eat foods.
Overall, cooking food properly ensures its safety and minimizes the chances of consuming harmful microorganisms that can cause diarrhea and other foodborne illnesses.
Avoid Medications That Cause Diarrhea
Avoiding certain medications can help prevent diarrhea, as these drugs can disrupt the gut microbiome or irritate the digestive system.
Antibiotics can kill beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
NSAIDs can irritate the stomach lining, causing gastritis or peptic ulcers, which can lead to diarrhea.
Laxatives can stimulate bowel movements too much, causing chronic diarrhea.
Cannabis can cause side effects such as constipation or diarrhea (learn more here).
PPIs can sometimes alter the gut microbiome, leading to diarrhea in some people.
Other medications may also list diarrhea as a possible side effect. Discussing potential side effects with your doctor and exploring alternative treatment options, when possible, can help reduce the risk of drug-induced diarrhea.