Diarrhea is a condition whereby stools are liquid and movements are frequent. It can be caused by bacterial infection from food poisoning (“turista”), from deficiencies of disaccharidase enzymes, or from irritation of the colon. In acute diarrhea, especially in infants, there may be danger of dehydration and loss of salts. Diarrhea lasting more than a few days should not be taken lightly. Alternating constipation and diarrhea could be symptoms of a tumour or other blockage requiring immediate medical attention.
Diarrhea may be a symptom that the small intestine lacks the enzymes to break down disaccharide sugars (e.g., lactose, sucrose, maltose, isomaltose). Without sufficient quantities of these enzymes, undigested and unabsorbed sugars remain in the gut and osmotically attract large volumes of water, making the stools more liquid. The most common enzyme deficiency of this type is lactose intolerance. On a world-wide basis (differing from culture to culture), most adults lack the enzyme, lactase, needed to break down and absorb lactose, the sugar found in all milk products (with the exception of ghee and high-fat cheeses). For them, total avoidance of milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. is the only way to ensure relief from diarrhea and other gastro-intestinal disturbances caused by their lactose intolerance.
Stools that are loose and frothy (as opposed to watery) often indicate some form of intestinal malabsorption. Such stools may contain fats, shreds of mucus and/or bits of recognizable, undigested foods. Whenever absorption is poor, fats tend to pass through the gut, making the stools looser. Mucus is the body’s way of protecting delicate tissues from harm. Its presence in the stools indicates that there is irritation and possible damage to either the small or large intestine, or both. Malabsorption is found in such conditions as lactose intolerance, celiac disease/sprue, leaky gut syndrome, colitis, and irritable/spastic colon – all of which involve food allergies or intolerances of one kind or another.
If the diarrhea is caused by food sensitivities, however, the only measure that can bring lasting relief is to track down and eliminate the offending foods – 100 per cent. The sensitive body responds to certain common foods as if they were poisons. And a little bit of a poison is still a poison. Diarrhea causes a depletion in beneficial intestinal flora, which can be replenished by a probiotic such as Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Also see the chapters, “One’s Food is Another’s Poison” and “It Begins with Digestion” in NUTRITIONAL SOLUTIONS FOR 88 CONDITIONS (available at Amazon.com)