Why Does Mexican Food Hurt My Stomach?

Mexican food is delicious, but it’s not uncommon to experience some stomach discomfort after eating it. If you often get sick from eating Mexican food, you’re probably wondering why it causes issues and what you can do about it. Here’s a closer look at the main reasons Mexican food may hurt your stomach and tips to prevent discomfort.

Spicy Ingredients Are Common Culprits

One of the most common reasons Mexican food can hurt your stomach is because a lot of dishes contain very spicy ingredients. Chili peppers, salsa, hot sauce, and other spicy seasonings are used frequently in Mexican cooking. These can irritate your stomach lining and cause problems like:

  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea

Spicy foods increase stomach acid production, which can cause pain and discomfort if you already have issues with acid reflux or indigestion. The spicier the dish, the more likely it is to cause burning discomfort during and after eating.

How to Prevent Discomfort from Spices

If you want to enjoy Mexican food without the painful aftermath, here are some tips:

  • Ask for milder versions of dishes so you control the spice level.
  • Avoid menu items with names that suggest they are extra spicy, like “diablo” or “inferno.”
  • Pick food without hot sauces and salsas. Choose items like fajitas or carnitas that can be eaten without a lot of added spice.
  • Have antacids on hand. Chew some Tums or another over-the-counter antacid if you feel heartburn coming on.
  • Drink plenty of water to dilute stomach acid.

Indigestible Ingredients Can Also Cause Problems

It’s not only spicy seasonings that can lead to Mexican food hurting your stomach. Some hard-to-digest ingredients commonly used in Mexican cooking can also cause issues for sensitive stomachs.


Tripe is beef stomach lining and it’s tough to break down. Menudo, a traditional Mexican soup, often contains tripe. Because it’s so hard to digest, tripe can cause gas, bloating, and stomach pain.


Beans are used heavily in Mexican cuisine. Refried pinto beans, black beans, and other varieties add fiber. But for some people, the natural sugars in beans can’t be properly digested, leading to gas and diarrhea.

How to Handle Problem Ingredients

If your stomach rebels when you eat tripe, beans, or other potentially indigestible ingredients, try these tips:

  • Skip the tripe if menudo or other dishes contain it.
  • Limit bean portions. Eat small amounts of fiber-rich beans at first to see if your body handles them okay.
  • Have Beano on hand. This OTC supplement helps your body break down bean sugars to reduce gas.
  • Try probiotics. They may improve your ability to digest ingredients like beans.

Contamination Risk with Certain Foods

Food poisoning is another common reason Mexican fare can take a toll on your stomach. Some foods are more prone to contamination if not handled properly.

Undercooked Meat and Eggs

Beef, chicken, and pork should be thoroughly cooked to kill bacteria. Runny eggs can also contain salmonella. If not handled carefully, they may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and severe abdominal cramping.


Fruits and vegetables can harbor pathogens if washed in unclean water. This is especially a concern with items eaten raw, like salsa and guacamole.


Raw oysters and other untreated seafood may contain bacteria or viruses. These can cause severe nausea, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

How to Prevent Food Poisoning

You can take steps to avoid foodborne illness from Mexican food:

  • Check restaurant reviews and only eat at highly rated establishments known for fresh, high-quality ingredients.
  • Ensure eggs and meat are cooked through. Send items back if they look underdone.
  • Avoid uncooked items like ceviche if you have a sensitive stomach.
  • Use caution with street vendors where ingredient handling may be questionable.

Individual Sensitivities Can Play a Role

Your unique digestive system may simply be sensitive or intolerant to certain ingredients commonly used in Mexican cuisine:

  • Onions, garlic, peppers, and chili powder
  • Beans, corn, and certain grains
  • Dairy ingredients like cheese, cream, and sour cream
  • Oily or fried foods
  • Alcohol and caffeinated drinks like margaritas

If your body lacks the enzymes needed to properly digest these foods, they can cause stomach bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and other unpleasant reactions.

Tips for Handling Sensitivities

If you suspect sensitivities to certain foods are causing your Mexican meal misery, you can take these steps:

  • Try an elimination diet to pinpoint problem ingredients.
  • Take digestive enzymes to improve breakdown of trigger foods.
  • Request food substitutions to avoid individual intolerances.
  • Limit portion sizes of foods you have trouble digesting.

When to See a Doctor

In most cases, stomach issues from Mexican fare will resolve on their own in a day or two. But if you experience severe, persistent abdominal pain and diarrhea, or symptoms last longer than 3 days, it’s a good idea to call your doctor.

Seeking medical care is especially important if you notice:

  • Blood or mucus in stool
  • Fever over 101°F
  • Dehydration symptoms like dizziness and dark urine
  • Inability to keep any food or liquid down

This may indicate a more serious condition requiring treatment, like Appendicitis or inflammatory bowel disease.

Don’t let tummy troubles spoil your enjoyment of flavorful Mexican food. Now that you know the likely culprits and how to prevent them, you can eat your favorites without the painful aftermath.

Share your love
Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *