If diarrhea is triggered after eating red meat, then it could be a case of a food poisoning or a food allergy. The following write-up will help you understand why consumption of red meat may trigger adverse reactions such as diarrhea and abdominal pain in some people.
When red meat is not cooked properly or is kept in the refrigerated condition for a long time, the possibility of diarrhea increases manifold. For this reason, people mostly get diarrhea after consuming red meat at large social gatherings, restaurants, picnics or school cafeterias where either proper preparation techniques are not followed or red meat is not preserved in hygienic condition.
Food Poisoning: Consumption of red meat that is infected with a bacterium called Escherichia coli is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. When you eat red meat, the body absorbs glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), which is a particular form of sugar molecule that is not produced by the human body. E.coli bacteria in the active state release a toxic substance known as subtilase cytotoxin. This toxin tends to get attached to the cells in the kidneys or the intestinal lining which have been exposed to Neu5Gc. This gives rise to diarrhea. Those who consume red meat on a regular basis are definitely more prone to this kind of food poisoning.
Allergic Reaction: Some people get diarrhea every time they eat red meat. In such cases, the problem is not related to food poisoning. It may be a result of an allergic reaction to meat, where the immune system recognizes red meat as a foreign body or a threat, and reacts by producing histamines.
Intolerance to Red Meat: At times, diarrhea may occur due to intolerance or food hypersensitivity. This occurs when the body doesn’t produce substances that are needed for digesting certain food items. Diarrhea could occur due to the body’s inability to digest proteins that are found in red meat due to the lack of enzymes.
If inflammation occurs in the abdominal lining due to a bacterial infection, it can give rise to swelling. The symptoms of food poisoning usually show up within 2-4 hours after eating infected red meat. The affected individual may experience the following symptoms.
► Diarrhea and vomiting are characteristic symptoms. If these are not controlled, then a patient may suffer from dehydration.
► Fever, chills, headache and weakness are some of the dehydration symptoms that are observed in this condition.
► A severe form of infection causes bloody diarrhea and the patient may develop a disease known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This is a serious condition that can adversely affect the functioning of the kidneys. In some cases, it can be fatal.
Doctor starts the diagnosis with physical examination. To identify the cause, doctors investigate the kind of food eaten in the past few days. If required, doctors may examine the leftover food as well. It is followed by some laboratory tests like blood test, stool test, etc.
► Infection in the digestive tract is treated with antibiotics.
► An allergic reaction is controlled with antihistamines and other allergy medicines.
► Along with the medications provided by the doctor, the patient needs to drink plenty of fluids, to compensate for the fluid lost due to diarrhea and vomiting.
► Children with diarrhea often cannot drink so much of fluids. In that case, intravenous fluids are administered.
► It is better to avoid solid foods as long as a patient is suffering from frequent bowel movements.
► Milk and caffeinated beverages should not be taken as can aggravate diarrhea. If the treatment starts on time, then the patient would recover within a few days.
► Those who are allergic towards red meat, should avoid it altogether.
Diarrhea after eating red meat can be prevented if it is cooked with right techniques. The minimum temperature required for cooking it is 160°F and is the best way to destroy the harmful effects of E.coli bacteria. Moreover, never put the cooked red meat in the same container where the raw meat was kept. Do not eat any meat that has been kept in refrigerator in the raw state for more than two days.