Sugar is something that is in almost everything we eat, so it would make sense to wonder exactly what effect it has on our bodies, including our bowel movements. I’ve done some research to find out if sugar will make you poop more, and here is what I discovered.
According to HarvardHealth, sugar is a common culprit for causing loose stools, as it stimulates the gut to release water and electrolytes. If you ingest large quantities of sugar and artificial sweeteners, you may develop diarrhea. In fact, 75% of people who consume 40-80g of sugar daily are likely to experience diarrhea and poop more.
Keep reading to find out how the different forms of sugar can affect you, as well as how the rising incidences of diabetes can affect your gut and bowel movements.
Why Does Sugar Make You Poop?
Both brown and white sugar is commonly used as a remedy for constipation, and this has been used for centuries as a tried and tested method.
According to HarvardHealth, sugar works by loosening your stools and stimulating your gut to release water and electrolytes. This is why people who consume too much sugar, can suffer from diarrhea as a result.
While sugar can be used to treat constipation in small quantities, it is really important that you don’t overdo it on the sugar. The reason for this is that sugar can actually hurt your gut!
In fact, a 2018 study discovered that dietary fructose (a simple sugar found in most fruits and juices) actually causes changes to the microbial composition of the gut.
Another interesting 2017 study revealed that the consumption of added sugars during childhood and adolescence can also lead to a change in the gut microbiome.
While there is still more research required on humans (these tests were carried out on rats) it certainly is something to think about.
Sugar can also affect our gut by contributing to inflammation, which can be harmful to the healthy functioning of the bacteria in our gut. Studies show that dietary-induced obesity actually creates significant changes to the microbial life found in our gut.
Can Too Much Sugar Make You Constipated?
People who consume large quantities of sugary foods are therefore consuming less healthy nutrients such a fiber which can contribute to constipation and other related gastrointestinal issues.
Fiber is absolutely crucial for the healthy functioning of our gut, as it feeds the healthy bacteria and microbes found in our intestines. In fact, one recent study with mice showed that switching from a low-fiber diet to a high-fiber one showed a positive and significant change in the diversity of the bacterial life in the microbiome.
The mice on a low-fiber diet developed inflammation and their blood sugar levels spiked. The intestinal barrier that holds bacteria in the gut also weakened. This is otherwise known as leaky gut and is associated with inflammation and illness.
How Much Sugar Should You Eat To Poop More?
You should stick to a low-sugar and a high-fiber diet in order to keep your gut healthy and functioning optimally. Adults should have no more than 30g of sugar per day (about 7 sugar cubes) and children should have no more than 24g of sugar per day (about 6 sugar cubes).
With that being said, so many of the foods we consume daily have hidden sugar in them, meaning you could be under the impression that you are sticking within your daily limit, but are actually consuming far over the recommended limit.
If you are not 100% sure, always check the label of foods you buy, and look out for these key indictors that the food you are eating contains a lot of hidden sugar:
- corn syrup
- high-fructose corn syrup
- anhydrous dextrose
- malt syrup
By now you may be wondering whether artificial sweeteners could be a good way to keep your sugar intake under control. Well, best you keep reading because the truth is ugly.
Negative Effects Of Artificial Sweeteners On The Gut
It is safe to say the artificial sweeteners are in a lot of the foods and drink that we consume on a daily basis—it’s a whole lot more than you think! The bad news is that these sweeteners can actually have a toxic effect on your digestive gut microbes.
According to a study published in the journal Molecules, researchers discovered that 6 common artificial sweeteners (approved by the Food and Drug Administration), as well as 10 sport supplements that contained these sweeteners, were found to be very toxic to the microbes found in the gut of mice.
Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore tested exactly how toxic aspartame, sucralose, neotame, advantage, saccharine, and acesulfame are on the gut.
The observations were staggering, as when the mice were exposed to only 1 milligram per milliliter of these artificial sweeteners, the bacteria located in the digestive system turned toxic!
“This is further evidence that the consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues.”Ariel Kushmaro, a professor in BGU’s department of biotechnology engineering
In fact, these sweeteners can even cause glucose intolerance, as they affect human metabolism and wreak havoc with the natural processes needed for healthy performance. The scary thing is that many of the side effects of newer FDA-approved sweeteners, such a neotame, remain unknown.
With that being said, this study found that when the mice were exposed to neotame, their metabolic patterns changed completely. Furthermore, several important genes that are also found in the human gut had decreased. Their levels of fatty acids, lipids, and cholesterol were also significantly higher than the mice who were not exposed.
Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Diarrhea?
The sad fact is that artificial sweeteners are a common addition to many drinks and foods in the modern world, and most of us consume these toxic additives daily without even being aware of it. Disturbingly, some of these can even be found in our drinking water, according to researchers.
What we do know is that these artificial sweeteners can cause diarrhea, due to the fact that they come from a family of compounds called sugar alcohol. According to WebMD, since your body cannot break them down and absorb them properly, they pull excess water into your intestine and cause a runny tummy.
The best thing you can do is to remain vigilant and always check the ingredients on the back of the foods you purchase and avoid those that contain high levels of artificial sweeteners. You’re better off sticking to natural sugar in moderation when it comes to your overall health and wellbeing!
How Does Diabetes Affect Your Digestion & Bowel Movements?
While diabetes is known for raising the risk of strokes and heart attacks, many people don’t know that it affects your digestive system too. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in your digestive system. If your digestive system speeds up or slows down, this can result in either diarrhea or constipation.
According to WebMD, around 60% to 70% of people who suffer from any type of diabetes suffer from some form of nerve damage as a result of this, and this can develop at any stage. When diabetes damages the nerves in your stomach and intestines, the food cannot move through normally and this results in constipation.
Fluid that remains in your intestines for too long can also begin to ferment and bacteria will begin to grow. This can result in bloating, pain, and diarrhea.
While all of this sounds pretty bleak, the best thing you can do is discuss your symptoms with a healthcare professional for the best way forward. You may be able to manage your diarrhea and constipation on your own simply by consuming smaller meals more regularly, eating foods rich in fiber, or taking prescribed medication from your doctor.
Lastly, and most importantly, you need to always monitor your blood sugar levels and make every effort to ensure they are stable, as this will lessen uncomfortable symptoms and prevent the nerve damage from worsening.
The natural sugar in small quantities will not cause damage to your health, it is rather high levels of sugar and artificial sweeteners that can wreak havoc with your gut and digestive tract (amongst other things)! Moderation really is key here. Make sure that you do your best to stick to the daily recommended allowance of sugar, exercise regularly, and drink lots of water to have a healthy functioning gut!