Can Mushrooms Cause Diarrhea?
Mushrooms have become everyone’s favourite snack. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, about 10% of Americans eat mushrooms daily.
But is every mushroom you come across edible?
Can mushrooms indeed cause diarrhea?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about mushrooms causing diarrhea and other sensitivities.
Mushrooms and Digestive Distress
Mushrooms hold a unique place in the world of tasty delights because of their earthy flavours and diverse textures. Their tempting appearance is also among the key alluring reasons that the fungi have found their way into most kitchens today.
But not any wild mushroom is a qualified menu for your diet. It’s important to note that these plant species are available in various sizes, shapes, and flavours.
This means as some mushroom species like Portobello, chanterelle and enoki may be celebrated for their tasty allure, some hold less appetising secrets.
What Can Lead to Diarrhea after Eating a Mushroom?
Mushrooms have gradually gained reputation as significant sources of potential therapeutic benefits and other traditional remedies.
Additionally, modern scientific discoveries of bioactive compounds in certain mushroom species sparked interest in exploring their culinary benefits.
However, the alluring appearance of some species can almost hoodwink anyone into consuming them, assuming they are safe and beneficial. Some people even eat them raw, a fact that’s highly concerning due to the potential risks involved.
This is where the importance of accurate mushroom identification and knowledge is crucial. The same fascinating facts, such as their wide range of colours and shapes, also make differentiating them quite challenging for mycologists.
The link between mushrooms and diarrhea, among other digestive distresses, can be a result of several factors, including:
Presence of Indigestible Compounds
Some mushrooms, even with no toxic substances, naturally contain complex carbohydrates and fibres that may be too tough for the stomach to digest. As a result, the fibres may not be fully broken down during digestion, leading to diarrhea because of gastro-intestinal irritation.
This is mainly attributed to indigestible fibres that can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. These effects trigger diarrhea as the body attempts to eliminate the undigested material.
Allergies or Sensitivities
Each person has a unique digestive system, meaning some individuals may be more sensitive to certain mushroom compounds. For such people, their digestive tracts will almost react even to non-toxic mushroom species because of possible allergic reactions in their bodies.
It's important to note that such reactions do not necessarily reflect the mushroom's edibility or safety. Instead, they could be from the individual's physiological response to certain compounds present in the mushroom.
Improper Cooking or Handling
Raw or insufficiently cooked mushrooms often contain harder-to-digest mushroom compounds. These can, however, be easily broken down by proper cooking.
While heat alters the molecular structure of mushrooms, it also deactivates potentially harmful enzymes or compounds that can cause digestive discomfort leading to diarrhea.
You should also know mushrooms are porous, so improper handling could introduce harmful bacteria that can lead to diarrhea.
Understanding Mushroom Poisoning
Mushroom poisoning is a distinct form of toxicity that arises from consuming toxic or poisonous mushrooms. This is quite different from food poisoning, as food poisoning often results from eating contaminated or spoiled food.
Mushroom poisoning can result from misidentification since toxic mushrooms can closely resemble edible ones. While both forms of poisoning have gastrointestinal effects such as diarrhea, the harmful toxins in poisonous mushrooms can cause severe body organ damage or even death if ingested.
However, the symptoms of mushroom poisoning vary depending on the toxins in the ingested mushrooms.
Some unique gastrointestinal symptoms of mushroom poisoning are diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Others may experience neurological symptoms such as seizures because of the toxins' effect on the nervous system and hallucinations.
Common Poisonous Mushroom Species
Mistaken consumption of poisonous mushrooms can seriously affect anyone’s well-being. Accurate identification is paramount to avoid the risks of consuming harmful toxins in poisonous mushrooms.
Some common poisonous mushroom species to be on the watch out for include:
Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)
You can easily spot this species because of its greenish-yellow cap, white stem, and white gills. Although exact characteristics may vary, you’ll note its cap appears to be wrinkled, and the base has a cup-like structure.
Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)
This species is noticeable because of its bulbous cap shape with bright red colours. However, the cap colours may vary depending on the conditions the mushroom is exposed to.
The fly agaric also has white gills, white stems and white spots on the red cape.
False Morel (Gyromitra esculenta)
The false morel has a convoluted white-to-brown cap and looks more like a wrinkled brain. These mushroom species often appear in spring or early summer, especially around wooded areas, including forests and wooded clearings.
Mushroom Fiber and its Digestive Effects
Edible mushrooms are reputational for their low calories and fat content but often contain moderate fibre levels. However, the exact fibre content may vary based on the type of mushroom as well as the type of fibre present in the diet.
Mushrooms often have various types of fibre, including soluble and insoluble fibre, each of which has varying benefits for your well-being.
However, despite their importance, excessive fibre becomes a problem for the body, especially for individuals not used to processing fibre-rich diets. This can lead to several effects, including bloating and diarrhea, because the body struggles to process the excess fibres.
How to Reduce the Risk of Diarrhea When Taking Mushrooms
You need to be well-prepared and informed to reduce diarrhea, nausea, and any other side effects that may come with consuming mushrooms.
Although some people may be more susceptive to these effects because of their bodies' sensitivities, here are some things you can do to help you stay safe.
Firstly you must ensure you are consuming edible mushrooms. Remember, it's better to buy mushrooms from reputable sources if you have no knowledge about them.
You must avoid taking raw mushrooms. Instead, ensure they are well-cooked before eating them. Despite their perceived benefits, avoid overeating mushrooms. This should help reduce excessive compounds such as fibres in the body, therefore minimising the chances of diarrhea.
Always consult a doctor if you have health conditions or allergies before eating mushrooms.
In conclusion, mushrooms can cause diarrhea, but if chosen with the help of an expert and cooked correctly, you can avoid the diarrhea effect.
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