Why Does Italian Sausage Give Me Diarrhea?

Italian sausage is a popular ingredient in many dishes, from pizza to pasta. However, some people experience diarrhea and other digestive issues after eating it. There are a few potential reasons why Italian sausage may cause diarrhea.

The High Fat Content

One of the main culprits is likely the high fat content of Italian sausage. It is made from ground pork and seasoned aggressively with herbs and spices On average, a 2 oz serving of Italian sausage contains around 16 grams of fat, over half of which comes from saturated fat

Diets high in fatty foods, especially saturated fats, are harder to digest and can loosen stool or cause diarrhea in some individuals. The rich, greasy sausage combined with its spicy seasoning may simply be too much for your digestive system to comfortably handle.

Spices and Seasonings

In addition to pork, Italian sausage contains generous amounts of spices like garlic, onion, basil, fennel, and red pepper flakes. Several of these are notorious for causing digestive distress in those sensitive to them.

Garlic and onions contain FODMAPs and insoluble fiber that can irritate the digestive tract. The spicy red pepper flakes added for heat also contain capsaicin that can inflame the stomach lining. For those with sensitivities, the concentration of these strong spices in Italian sausage could trigger diarrhea.

Cured Meats and Preservatives

Preservatives like sodium nitrite used to cure meats may also play a role for some individuals. There is evidence that sodium nitrite can inhibit water reabsorption in the colon, resulting in looser stool or diarrhea.

Other preservatives commonly added to processed meats like Italian sausage include lactate, citrate, and acetate salts. These ingredients allow the meat to stay fresh longer but may contribute to digestive issues in those prone to them.

Food Sensitivities

Some people may actually have a sensitivity or intolerance to one of the ingredients in Italian sausage. Two of the most likely suspects are:

Pork: The sausage is made from ground pork, which some people have difficulty digesting. Diarrhea after eating pork products could signal a pork intolerance.

Fennel: This anise-flavored herb is a distinguishing seasoning in Italian sausage. Fennel is high in fiber and can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea for those sensitive to it.

If the same symptoms occur every time you eat Italian sausage specifically, it suggests an ingredient-specific intolerance.

Food Poisoning

There is also a small risk of food poisoning from undercooked Italian sausage. Like any ground meat, sausage can potentially harbor harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

Symptoms occur within 12-48 hours and include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. Ensure sausage reaches an internal temperature of 160°F prior to eating to kill any bacteria present.

Tips to Prevent Diarrhea from Italian Sausage

Here are some tips to help prevent or reduce the likelihood of diarrhea and other digestive woes after eating Italian sausage:

  • Opt for a lower-fat chicken or turkey Italian sausage

  • Choose uncured sausage without sodium nitrite

  • Look for sausages without added spices like garlic or red pepper flakes

  • Enjoy just a small amount, and be wary of greasy, saucy dishes containing it

  • Make sure all sausage is cooked thoroughly to a safe internal temperature

  • Take an over-the-counter antidiarrheal if you experience symptoms

  • Limit or avoid eating it if diarrhea persists each time

For most people, Italian sausage can be enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. However, listen to your body and limit high-fat, heavily seasoned versions if they consistently cause unwanted digestive side effects like diarrhea. Switching to a lighter, uncured sausage without extra spices may allow you to still indulge occasionally without discomfort.

Episode #27 – Italian Sausages with Italian Grandmother Nonna Paolone and Nonno Jerry Paolone


Why does Italian sausage make my stomach hurt?

Because the gallbladder is stimulated by fat, mild to severe abdominal pain can occur after eating a greasy meal (think: fried foods, cheese, sausage, potato chips, and butter). Inflammation caused by gallstones blocking the ducts to your small intestines can also result in severe pain.

What causes rapid bowel movement after eating?

Needing to poop immediately after eating is typically due to an overactive gastrocolic reflux. This causes food to move through your colon more quickly. You may experience other symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea. Dietary changes may help reduce the effect of gastrocolic reflex.

Why does Italian sausage make me gassy?

Fatty foods like bacon, sausage, and oily dishes may also cause bloating because they are slowly emptied from the stomach. They don’t necessarily produce gas, they just hang around in the gut longer and increase the feeling of fullness. Eliminate dietary suspects for two weeks to see if your symptoms improve.

Can deli meat cause diarrhea?

If the deli meat is pre-packaged, the federal government requires that all food allergens are listed in a separate warning on the label. The most common food allergies are related to wheat, soy, milk, eggs, fish, tree nuts and peanuts. Aside from lactose intolerance, other food intolerances may trigger bouts of diarrhea after eating lunch meat.

Why do some foods cause diarrhea?

Certain foods can cause diarrhea either because they have a laxative effect and you’ve eaten too much or because they irritate the digestive tract. It is also possible that you have an intolerance to certain foods (like dairy) or are simply eating an imbalanced diet with too many fatty foods and not enough fiber .

What causes diarrhea if you have a food intolerance?

Certain foods may cause diarrhea and other digestive symptoms, especially if you have a food intolerance. Common causes can include dairy, spicy food, and greasy food. In most cases, diarrhea is caused by a virus or bacteria that your body is trying to flush out. However, eating specific foods can also trigger a bout of diarrhea.

What causes diarrhea after eating red meat?

Rarely, diarrhea after eating red meat may be caused by an underlying abnormality with the gallbladder or pancreas, Dr. Wolf says. These organs help your body digest rich and fatty foods, including beef. If your body isn’t able to properly break down the meat, you may have loose stools.

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