Updated 30 August 2018

Undigested food in your stool may be a sign of IBS

The contents of your stool can give you some insight into the health of your gut.

Taking a peek at your stool is not everyone's idea of fun. But if you notice some undigested food, you may be dealing with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder. It is characterised by a change in bowel movements and abdominal pain. Bowel movements are not the same for all people with IBS. Some may suffer from constipation, whereas others may experience frequent diarrhoea. There are no direct causes for IBS, nor are there any cures.  

Are you chewing properly?

Undigested food found in your stool is more common than you may think. Some foods are much harder to digest than others and therefore may remain partially intact. Examples are foods with high fibre content like corn, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.

In an interview with Women’s Health, gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal states that undigested food in your stool may simply be an indication that you’re not chewing your food properly.

However, when undigested food regularly occurs in your stool and is accompanied by other IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, mucus in your stool as well as psychosocial stress, you might want to consult your doctor.

Ivison suggests that you do not diagnose yourself but get medically tested. “It's important not to self-diagnose. There are many gut-related diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease and cancer that may present with similar symptoms. It is therefore important to see a doctor or a specialist and undergo a colonoscopy to rule out any other more serious disorders.”

Although there’s no cure for IBS, it is possible to limit symptoms by:

  • Introducing probiotics
  • Increasing water intake
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating foods that are easier to digest.

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