Peanut Butter Digestion Problems: Is Peanut Butter Good for Your Digestive System?


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through the links. Read the disclaimer for more information.

Peanut butter has always been an all-time favorite staple food in American diets. It contains plenty of vitamins and minerals. The most popular ones are made of roasted and dried peanuts. In 2019 alone, statistics showed that up to 297 million Americans eat peanut butter.

Peanut butter is generally considered good for the digestive system since it contains a decent amount of fiber that promotes healthy bowel movement. However, people who are sensitive to peanuts may develop gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, gas, indigestion, and acid reflux.

Here is what you need to know about peanut butter digestion problems.

Peanut butter and diarrhea: Why does peanut butter give me diarrhea?

According to Medline Plus, you have diarrhea if you pass loose and watery stools three or more times in a day. [01Opens in a new tab.]

If your diarrhea lasts for more than a few days, then you may have more serious health issues.

However, in most cases, diarrhea goes away eventually within four days without the medical practitioners finding out its causes.

The National Institue of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases named infections, traveler’s diarrhea, and medications’ side effects as the common cause of acute and persistent diarrhea.

But you may also get diarrhea if you have food allergies and intolerances. [02Opens in a new tab.]

So, if you happen to have diarrhea right after consuming peanut butter, chances are, you have a peanut allergy or peanut intolerance. 

Peanut butter intolerance or sensitivity happens when your body has a difficult time digesting peanut butter, specifically peanuts. [03Opens in a new tab., 04Opens in a new tab.]

In contrast, peanut allergy is a reaction that happens when your body mistakenly recognized peanuts as harmful invaders and thus, activating your body’s defense system to fight against them and result in allergy symptoms.[05Opens in a new tab.]

Peanut intolerance causes milder symptoms as opposed to peanut allergy that may lead to life-threatening responses, such as anaphylactic.

While peanut intolerance and allergy are fundamentally triggered by a different cause, both of these conditions may lead to symptoms like diarrhea. [06Opens in a new tab.]

Other symptoms of food intolerance are gas, bloating, abdominal cramps, nausea, and headache. On the other hand, symptoms of food allergy include rashes, stomach cramps, vomiting, dizziness, wheezing, and indigestion.

It can be hard to differentiate between peanut intolerance and allergy. Hence, it’s best to consult with your doctor or an allergist to identify your condition and rule out other possible intestinal problems for prompt treatment.

In most cases, however, peanut butter is used as a treatment for diarrhea.

In fact, health authorities like the American Cancer Society and MedlinePlus recommend consuming peanut butter as part of a low-carb diet to lessen diarrhea. [07Opens in a new tab.,08Opens in a new tab.]

Peanut butter and constipation: Is peanut butter good for constipation?

According to the National Institue of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, constipation is a condition where you have lesser than three bowel movement in one week. Your stool will also be hard, lumpy, dry, and hard or painful to pass. [09Opens in a new tab.]

However, since your bowel movement patterns may differ from other people, only you can decide whether your bowel movements are normal or abnormal.

Pinpointing the exact cause of constipation can be difficult since there are many reasons that lead to this condition. Sometimes, it can be caused by more than one thing at a time. [10Opens in a new tab.]

Constipation may be due to certain medicines and dietary supplements, lifestyle changes, or health and nutrition issues

The National Institute of Aging said that you may become constipated if you don’t consume enough fibers, which can be found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain. [11Opens in a new tab.]

The National Institute of Health recommends men consume about 38 grams of fiber per day, and women around 25 grams.

Since peanut butter is a good source of fibers, it can help fight against constipation. The USDA FoodData Central reported that two tablespoons of chunky peanut butter like this oneOpens in a new tab. give you nearly 2.6 grams of total dietary fiber, which amounts to 10% of recommended daily fiber intake for women and 7% for men. [12Opens in a new tab., 13Opens in a new tab.]

Nonetheless, be sure to add fiber in your diet gradually since consuming too much fiber within a short time may result in bloating, flatulence, and abdominal cramps. 

You should also drink plenty of water if you’re planning to consume foods high in fiber like peanut butter to prevent constipation. [14Opens in a new tab.]

Try to limit your fiber intake to the recommended daily consumption since a high amount of fiber may hinder the absorption of certain minerals, including iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. But since high-fiber foods are packed with minerals, this may not be a major issue. [15Opens in a new tab.]

Peanut butter and gas: Can peanut butter cause gas and bloat?

Belching, flatulence, bloating, and a noisy stomach can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing, especially during special events. Nevertheless, they are rarely caused by health issues.

You would usually become gassy and bloated when you eat something incompatible or have swallowed too much air.

Certain gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, also tend to cause more intestinal gas.

In addition, some foods and drinks are likely to give you gas, such as beans, apricots, carbonated drinks, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, as well as milk and milk products. [16Opens in a new tab.]

Generally, peanut butter does not cause gas and bloating, since it comprises mainly of fat and protein. [17Opens in a new tab.]

However, some people may become gassy and bloated due to high-fiber impact, peanut intolerance, and peanut allergy.

You can read more about peanut butter and its gas-causing effect in my other article here.

Peanut butter and acid reflux: Is peanut butter good for acid reflux

Acid reflux, which is also known as gastroesophageal reflux or GER, occurs when the acid content of your stomach comes back up into your esophagus.

So if you have acid reflux, you may taste your food or stomach acid in the back of your mouth

You may also experience heartburn or acid indigestion if your stomach acid touches your esophagus’ lining. This symptom may cause you to feel a painful, burning sensation in the center of your chest, behind the breastbone, and in the middle of the abdomen. [18Opens in a new tab.,19Opens in a new tab.]

A more severe and long-term form of GER is called the gastroesophageal reflux disease or popularly known as GERD, a condition that affects up to 20% of the US population. [20Opens in a new tab.]

Acidic foods, fatty foods, being overweight, smoking, pregnancy, stress and anxiety, hiatus hernia, and some medications may cause or worsen acid reflux.[21Opens in a new tab.,22Opens in a new tab.]

Peanut butter generally does not cause acid reflux. Some experts even recommend smooth peanut butter like this oneOpens in a new tab. as a good food choice for people with acid reflux. Still, certain people may produce different reactions. Since peanut butter contains almost 50% of fat, it may increase the chances of getting the symptom.  [23Opens in a new tab.,24Opens in a new tab.]

Hence, it’s best to choose smooth, natural, and unsweetened peanut butter like this oneOpens in a new tab. as opposed to the chunky ones that are more likely to trigger GER.

You should consult with your doctor to decide whether or not peanut butter is a good inclusion in your diet and how much you should eat per day.

Peanut butter and indigestion: Is peanut butter good for upset stomach?

Indigestion, also known as upset stomach or dyspepsia, is a general term representing the symptoms of gastrointestinal that happens at the same time. [25Opens in a new tab.]

It is a common condition that affects one in four people in the United States every year. [26Opens in a new tab.]

Common symptoms of indigestion may include: 

  • A painful, burning sensation or discomfort in your upper tummy or in the area between your breastbone’s lower part and navel
  • Feeling full quickly while eating a meal
  • The feeling of unpleasant fullness right after eating a meal

Indigestion is usually not an indication of severe health issues unless it happens along with other symptoms like difficulty to swallow, weight loss, or bleeding

You may experience an upset stomach or a hurt tummy due to several reasons, which include:

  • Drinking too much caffeinated, carbonated, fizzy, or alcoholic beverages
  • Overeating or eating too fast during a meal
  • Consuming high-fiber foods
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Eating spicy, fatty, greasy, or acidic foods

Peanut butter generally does not result in indigestion or other digestive issues unless the consumers are hypersensitive to peanuts and other legumes. In fact, peanut butter contains a decent amount of fiber that helps with digestion.

As mentioned earlier, if you have a peanut intolerance or sensitivity, your body may have a hard time digesting peanut butter, which may result in indigestion.

Unlike peanut intolerance, peanut allergy usually does not cause indigestion.

Conclusion

Peanut butter is the planet’s most popular sandwich spread.

It is a traditional staple food that is low in carb and contains healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Since peanut butter is a good source of fiber, it is considered good for your digestive system.

Normally, you won’t develop any gastrointestinal problems when eating peanut butter.

However, you may develop digestive problems like diarrhea, gas, bloating, acid reflux, and indigestion if you have peanut intolerance or peanut allergy.

You may also become constipated if you consume too much high-fiber food like peanut butter within a short period and without drinking enough fluid.

If you constantly experience digestive issues after eating peanut butter, you should consult your doctor for proper diagnosis, treatment, and diet suggestions.

What happens if you eat too much peanut butter?

While peanut butter is packed with proteins, healthy fats, fibers, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it contains harmful substances like aflatoxins and has high calories, which would easily make you gain weight if you overeat. Hence, it is best to consume peanut butter in moderation. [27Opens in a new tab.]

Can peanut butter make your stomach hurt?

Peanut butter contains fiber that promotes a healthy digestive system. In fact, smooth peanut butter is often recommended in an esophageal soft diet. But people who are sensitive to peanuts may develop indigestion and other stomach problems, including gas and diarrhea, after consuming peanut butter.

Eina Aivoges

Eina Aivoges is a certified health and wellness coach and a licensed medical laboratory scientist. She's also a foodie, avid coffee drinker, cat-lover, blogger, and traveler.

Recent Content