We all scream for ice cream, but for some of us, that scream may be literal.
We’ve all heard the saying, “don’t eat ice cream when you have a stomach ache”. And while it’s generally good advice to avoid eating dairy when you’re feeling sick, there’s another reason why you might want to think twice before indulging in a bowl of ice cream: it could cause diarrhea.
But why does ice cream cause diarrhea? In this article, we will discuss some reasons for this problem – lactose intolerance, overconsumption of sugar, and allergies. Let’s dive deeper into each cause.
Table of Contents
Lactose Intolerance Causes Diarrhea
Lactose intolerance is a condition in which the body cannot digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. It is very common, affecting up to 70% of the world’s population.
Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose into glucose and galactose, two simple sugars that can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
When a lactose intolerant person eats foods that contain lactose, here are some symptoms you may exhibit after 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating:
While there is no cure for lactose intolerance, many people are able to manage their symptoms by avoiding dairy products or taking lactase enzymes before eating. And if you decide to pop a Lactaid for some ice cream, no one can hardly blame you! You can read about lactose intolerance for in-depth information here.
Sugar Overload Leads To Gastrointenstinal Problems
Another reason why ice cream may cause diarrhea is because it contains large amounts of sugar. When we eat sugary foods, our gastrointestinal system has to work overtime to try to break down all of the sugar.
When we eat or drink something that contains sugar, our bodies begin to break it down into two simple sugars: glucose and fructose.
Glucose is absorbed directly into the bloodstream where it’s used for energy. Fructose, on the other hand, must be broken down further by the liver before it can be used for energy.
Consuming large amounts of sugar at one time can overwhelm the liver, leading to digestive issues like bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Sugar also pulls water into the intestines which can lead to diarrhea as well as dehydration.
You can read all about how sugar affects your body here.
Allergies To Ingredients Can Cause Diarrhea
Finally, some people may be allergic to ingredients in ice cream. These allergies can also lead to stomach cramping, bloating, and diarrhea.
The proteins in milk can trigger an allergic reaction in some people, and those same proteins are found in ice cream. In addition, some people are allergic to eggs, and many ice cream recipes call for egg yolks. And finally, some flavors of ice cream contain nuts, which are a common allergen.
If you find that you’re experiencing symptoms after eating ice cream, it’s important to see an allergist to confirm whether or not you have an allergy. Once you know for sure, you can take steps to avoid eating ice cream or take medication to manage your symptoms.
How Long Will Diarrhea Last After Eating Ice Cream?
If you’ve ever gotten diarrhea after eating ice cream, chances are it didn’t last too long—usually no more than 24 hours. However, if your symptoms are severe or persist for more than two days, it’s important to see your doctor as you could have a bacterial infection or another serious condition.
Conclusion – Moderation Is Key
Tummy aches are certainly not fun. Even worse if you are trapped in the bathroom after enjoying a delicious treat. Be sure to think about why you got diarrhea after eating ice cream – did you have too much, are you lactose intolerant, or are you allergic to one of its ingredients? If you aren’t sure and this problem persists, it may be time to visit your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Medication Can I Take Before Eating Ice Cream?
Are There Alternatives To Ice Cream For Lactose Intolerance?
Another option is sorbet. Sorbet is made without dairy, so it’s naturally lactose-free. And there are plenty of flavors to choose from, so you’re sure to find one that you love.
So don’t give up on ice cream just because you’re lactose intolerant. There are plenty of delicious options out there for you to enjoy.
What Medication Can I Use For Diarrhea?
For severe cases of diarrhea, your doctor may prescribe a medication called a cholestyramine resin, which helps to bind bile acids in the intestine and promote a healthy bowel movement.
Eating ice cream is simply too good to pass up. Just make sure you eat in moderation!