Why Does Mexican Food Make You Poop?

Mexican food is delicious, but it has a reputation for leading to unwanted bathroom visits. If you’ve ever wondered why eating tacos, burritos, or fajitas causes diarrhea or stomach pain, you’re not alone. There are several reasons why Mexican fare can irritate your digestive system.

High Fiber Content

One of the biggest reasons Mexican food causes bathroom emergencies is its high fiber content. Foods like beans, corn, peppers, and tomatillos are packed with insoluble fiber. This type of fiber adds bulk to stool and cannot be digested.

Instead, insoluble fiber absorbs water as it moves through your colon. This adds moisture to your stool, causing it to pass more quickly through your intestines. The result is loose, watery stools or diarrhea.

Some high fiber Mexican foods include:

  • Beans: Pinto, black, kidney, or refried beans are in most Mexican dishes. Just 1/2 cup of beans provides a whopping 8-10 grams of fiber.
  • Corn: Whether it’s on the cob, ground into tortilla flour, or used to make chips, corn is another Mexican staple full of insoluble fiber.
  • Peppers: Jalapeños, poblanos, and other varieties contain insoluble fiber that can irritate the digestive tract.
  • Tomatillos: These small green fruits are high in pectin fiber, which causes loose stools. Salsa verde is a key source of tomatillos.

To prevent fiber-related urgency, opt for lower fiber ingredients like white rice or flour tortillas. You can also increase fiber gradually to allow your body time to adjust.

Spicy Ingredients

The quintessential flavors of Mexican cuisine come from hot peppers and potent spices. Capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their kick, irritates the digestive tract for many people. Spices like chili powder, cumin, and jalapeño can have a similar effect.

Eating spicy Mexican fare causes the stomach to secrete more acids and bile to aid digestion. The intestines also move food faster through the colon to clear the irritation.

As a result, the bathroom calls more urgently after a heavily spiced meal. Heartburn is also common. Those with gastrointestinal conditions like IBS may be especially sensitive to spicy food.

To enjoy Mexican without the lava, request mild salsa and sauce options. Focus on dishes that are more subtly flavored like fajitas. You can also counteract heat with cooling foods like guacamole, rice, or beans.

Oil Content

Authentic Mexican cooking uses a lot of oil, particularly lard. Frying tortillas in grease or serving fatty meat like carnitas can overload the digestive system. Your small intestine has trouble breaking down and absorbing high-fat foods efficiently.

Excess fat in the intestines causes water to enter the colon to try to flush it out. This leads to urgent, loose bowel movements. The fat may also cause cramps, bloating, and gas as it ferments in your colon.

To avoid fat-induced diarrhea, limit greasy Mexican dishes like chilaquiles, taquitos, and churros. Opt for lighter options like grilled fajita vegetables that use little oil. You can also ask for corn tortillas instead of fried flour versions.

Alcohol Consumption

It’s common to wash down Mexican food with a margarita, cerveza, or shot of tequila. However, alcohol can make digestive issues worse. Booze irritates the digestive tract, causing liquids to flood into the intestines too early.

This interferes with proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Alcohol also causes the stomach to produce more acid, resulting in cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. It may relax the muscles between the stomach and small intestine, allowing food to enter before it’s fully digested.

To prevent alcohol-related bathroom visits, avoid drinking margaritas, cervezas, or Mexican cocktails with a heavy meal. If you do indulge, limit yourself to one drink and sip water in between. Eating before drinking can also help slow alcohol’s disruption of digestion.

Intolerance to Common Ingredients

Some people simply don’t tolerate the ingredients commonly used in Mexican cuisine. Lactose intolerance is a key reason Mexican food causes digestive upset. Cheese, cream, and sour cream feature heavily in items like enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas.

Consuming dairy when you’re lactose intolerant means the body cannot properly digest the milk sugars. This results in nausea, cramps, bloating, and diarrhea as the undigested sugars ferment in the colon.

Others may be sensitive to gluten found in flour tortillas, soybean oil, and thickening agents. Onion, garlic, cumin, and peppers are other common allergens. Pay attention to ingredients that seem to consistently cause stomach troubles.

To prevent intolerance issues, avoid problem foods in Mexican dishes. Ask for corn tortillas or lettuce wraps instead of flour versions if gluten is a concern. Top with salsa and guacamole instead of cheese and sour cream if dairy upsets your stomach.

Food Poisoning

Like any cuisine, food poisoning is possible if Mexican dishes aren’t handled properly. Restaurants with poor food safety practices and contaminated ingredients are high-risk scenarios. Common pathogens include norovirus, E. coli, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens.

Symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps start within hours or days of eating contaminated food. Food poisoning often resolves in 24-48 hours, but can become serious if dehydration or infection spreads.

To lower food poisoning risk, choose busy restaurants with high cleanliness scores. Ensure meats are fully cooked and dishes made fresh. Also check ingredients aren’t past expiration and leftovers are promptly refrigerated.

Tips to Enjoy Mexican Without Distress

While Mexican food has a reputation for bathroom emergencies, a few simple tweaks can let you enjoy it without issue:

  • Request corn over flour tortillas
  • Choose tomatillo or roasted salsa over raw, spicy versions
  • Ask for vegetables, rice, and bean sides instead of fatty meats
  • Limit alcohol, especially sugary margaritas
  • Drink plenty of water to aid digestion
  • Take lactase enzyme pills if you’re lactose intolerant
  • Request mild versions of salsa, sauce, and spices
  • Avoid common allergen ingredients you react to
  • Choose cooked fillings like shrimp versus raw like ceviche
  • Opt for fresh, made-to-order dishes instead of heavy, greasy items

With a little customization and smart ingredient choices, you can savor flavorful Mexican food without the unwanted side effects. Pay attention to what causes you digestive distress and adjust accordingly.

The Bottom Line

Mexican food ranks as one of the world’s most beloved, yet problematic cuisines for digestive health. Ingredients like beans, peppers, grease, and spices can overwhelm the system for some people. Food sensitivities, intolerance, and alcohol also play a role. With care taken to choose gentler ingredients and limit portions, the delicious flavors can be enjoyed without unwanted bathroom effects.

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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

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