Everyday things such as food, medication, or stress can cause diarrhea. However, diarrhea sometimes may signal an underlying medical condition.
Will fiber help my diarrhea?
Fiber is your friend. If you're battling chronic diarrhea, constipation, or both, you need plenty of high-fiber foods. Fiber is a stool regulator and a stool normalizer. Like a sponge, fiber works by soaking up water. Fiber also adds bulk to the stool.
Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not. Soluble fibers attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fibers can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.
Sources of soluble fiber: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.
Insoluble fibers are considered gut-healthy fiber because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. These fibers do not dissolve in water, so they pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut.
Sources of insoluble fiber: whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit, and root vegetable skins.
Are floating stools healthy?
According to the National Institutes of Health, healthy stools typically sink. However, floating stools do not necessarily mean that there is a problem. Usually, floating stools result from nutrient malabsorption that can lead to excess flatus (a.k.a. gas), which makes the stool less dense and thus allows it to float. Nutrient malabsorption occurs when the body does not completely digest and absorb nutrients from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. When more food is digested by bacteria in the lower intestine, more gas is produced that needs to find a way out either via farting or via floating stools.
Having diarrhea and floating stools for more than two weeks may be a sign of nutrient malabsorption. Alternative explanations for floating stools include a change in diet, diarrhea, acute GI infections, and diseases such as celiac disease.