For many people, popcorn is a top favorite snack. Popcorn can be made in a variety of different ways, so it’s very versatile for people with different taste preferences. Despite the great things about popcorn, for some, popcorn can cause some serious repercussions.

For those who have dietary restrictions, popcorn may not be the food to snack on. Especially for those who have sores or issues with their digestive system, popcorn could possibly inflame the issue and make it worse. The hard outer shell of the popcorn seed can be hard to digest and can cause pain.

What issues can popcorn cause for individuals who have do not have preexisting conditions and issues? Continue reading to learn more about the negative side effects that popcorn can cause.

What Are Some Problems Popcorn Can Cause?

As previously mentioned, most of the problems popcorn can cause are for people who have preexisting issues, especially those who have stomach and digestive issues. Those who suffer from Crohn’s Disease and diseases that. cause similar side effects should be cautious around how much popcorn they eat. What are some problems popcorn can cause?

Preexisting Issues

People who suffer from medical conditions that can cause their intestines or areas of their digestive tract to become inflamed should consult with a doctor before eating popcorn. The small outer shells of the popcorn seeds can get caught in the inflammation, and this danger is especially prevalent to those with diverticulitis.

For those who are dealing with situations similar to this one, it is best to speak to a doctor about the best substitute for your body. Depending on what medical condition has been diagnosed and how it specifically affects the body, there may be better alternatives. This will allow someone to continue enjoying the snacks and flavors they like, without the negative consequences they may cause.

There may also be a medication that could help with digestion (depending on the diagnosis and the severity of the case). Medication if used properly as a doctor prescribes it, can help improve the quality of life and possibly allow for popcorn snacking.


Popcorn is a rich source of fiber. For people who are sensitive to fiber, this can cause problems while trying to digest the popcorn. In one ounce of popcorn, there are 3.6 grams of fiber (source). According to the Mayo Clinic, women should shoot for around 21-25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30-38 grams a day.

Women could exceed their fiber goal for the day by eating only one cup of popcorn! (28.8 grams for eight ounces). This shows how high in fiber this snack is. Even for people who are not normally affected by fiber, eating large amounts of popcorn can cause some bathroom issues as a consequence.

If someone is highly sensitive to fiber or has issues that can be worsened by eating fiber, they should consult their doctor about popcorn. It is smart to stay on the safe side while dealing with your personal health.

Especially for those dealing with Chrohn’s Disease, popcorn and other high fiber foods should be eaten with caution and care. Along with the negative effects, fiber can create in the bathroom, too much fiber can also cause bloating and even temporary weight gain.

While fiber is not bad in moderate amounts, too much fiber can be bad. All things should be eaten and done in regulation.

According to Healthline, if someone has eaten too much fiber and is beginning to notice the negative side effects associated with a high fiber intake, they should immediately drink a large amount of water.

Light physical activity like walking can help a body digest and deal with the influx of fiber in its system. Going on a nightly walk after a fiber-filled dinner, or a popcorn snack can really help to relieve the uneasy symptoms it can cause. This should be a ten to fifteen-minute walk to help the stomach digest and to allow the body to relax without any pain caused by the fiber.

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In the United States of America, around 36% of the population is lactose intolerant. Globally, 68% of all people living on the planet are lactose intolerant (source). This means over half of the world’s population have issues digesting many dairy products, including the butter used to make popcorn.

Those who are suffering from lactose malabsorption can have a variety of sensitivities to the symptoms. For some, eating any food product with lactose is completely out of the question because it will cause serious stomach pains and problems.

There are some people who are able to eat dairy and lactose products if they take medicine beforehand. Some people with lactose malabsorption are able to eat small amounts of dairy and lactose without serious consequences or pain, but they have a limit that their bodies can handle.

Each person is different and has a different sensitivity to dairy products. Those who suffer from lactose malabsorption should eat this food with caution.

One tip for those who love popcorn but are unable to eat lactose: Making homemade popcorn allows for different ingredients to be used. One dairy-free option is avocado oil. Simply pop the kernels in the microwave or over the stove, and measure out avocado oil to use instead of butter.

Complete with salt or other seasonings and the popcorn is ready to go!

Another option that’s not butter is coconut oil. Both of these options are great for those suffering from lactose malabsorption and for those who do not eat animal products and choose to live a vegan lifestyle.


Sorry to all those salt lovers out there, but extra salt on popcorn can cause some serious and unwanted side effects. According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), people should limit their sodium intake to under 2,300 mg. For those who are wondering, this is about equivalent to a teaspoon of table salt.

Most Americans consume over 3,400 mg of sodium every day! Too much sodium can cause serious problems including high blood pressure, and an increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

While it might not seem like a big deal when eating that large popcorn in the movie theatre, excessive sodium intake over time can cause serious problems, possibly leading to death. Having too much sodium can also cause more immediate issues such as bloating and stomach aches.

There are a couple of different things people can do to prevent excessive sodium intake with popcorn. One is using different seasonings on popcorn. This is a great time to experiment in the kitchen and whip up something new and exciting.

Using the previous tip found under “Dairy”, someone could make avocado oil popcorn and instead of using salt to enhance the flavor, they could try a variety of different flavors found in the seasoning cupboard. A popular alternative is black pepper or paprika.

Mixing new flavors could create a snack someone loves even more than regular butter and salt popcorn and is a great way to make a small lifestyle change to become healthier.

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Foods that are highly starchy and made of mostly carbohydrates can cause indigestion and stomach aches. Especially when eaten quickly, the extra air being swallowed in between each bite of the starchy popcorn can cause stomach pains and gas.

This is an effect that can affect anyone, not just those who suffer from preexisting issues. One of the best ways to deal with this is by ensuring that you’re sticking to a properly balanced diet. A healthy balance between carbs, proteins, and fats needs to exist in order to have a healthy and balanced diet.

Popcorn Lung

No, this is not a joke. Microwave popcorn has been known to cause a serious disease named “popcorn lung”. According to Healthline, diacetyl is a chemical that has been used in microwave popcorn and causes lung cancer and diseases.

This chemical was put in microwave popcorn to give it the buttery flavor and scent that popcorn is so well known for. Unfortunately for those who love microwave popcorn, if too much diacetyl is inhaled, irreversible damage is caused to the lungs.

This is something that could affect anyone, not just those who have preexisting medical conditions. This disease-causing chemical causes the lungs to scar over and not let enough air in to properly oxygenate the person.

About twenty years ago, those who worked in microwave popcorn manufacturing facilities and plants were the most affected by the disease. Hundreds of these workers had been diagnosed with the disease, according to American Lung Association.

In 2007, after much research was done on the popcorn manufacturing facilities and plants, diacetyl was taken out of many microwave popcorn ingredients. Luckily for those who love their microwave popcorn, popcorn lung is unlikely to happen to someone who only eats microwave popcorn.

Although, Healthline reports how there has been a case of a man who was diagnosed with the disease after eating two bags of microwave popcorn every single day for ten years.

As previously mentioned, diacetyl is no longer a common ingredient found in microwave popcorn. Today, the most common cause leading to popcorn lung is vaping. American Lung Association talks about how this chemical is added to the flavorings used in e-cigarettes and vapes.

Breathing in the chemical directly, as someone would do while vaping, causes the popcorn lung, otherwise known as bronchiolitis obliterans.

If someone is really worried about chemicals in microwave popcorn, the best thing to do is to limit the amount of microwave popcorn they eat. This doesn’t mean someone has to stop eating popcorn altogether, this simply means reducing the amount of processed popcorn you eat and maybe incorporating more air-popped and stove-popped popcorn.

What Can You Do To Help Alleviate Tummy Problems?

Depending on what about the popcorn is causing stomach pain and abdominal uneasiness, a person should either stop or limit their popcorn intake. If someone gets stomach aches every time after eating movie theatre or microwave popcorn, try homemade popcorn.

The problem might not be the popcorn, but the toppings and seasonings used to flavor and prepare the popcorn snack.

After eliminating different toppings and seasonings, if popcorn is still causing abdominal pain, try a different snack. Rice cakes can have a similar taste to popcorn if seasoned correctly. Soda crackers can also give someone the salty flavor they are craving in the popcorn without the consequences.

After eating popcorn, if a person begins to have a horrible stomach ache and does not feel well, they should contact a doctor. As previously mentioned, it is better safe than sorry when dealing with personal health.

For mild stomach aches, over-the-counter medication may help to relieve some of the stress and pain of the abdominal area. Always consult a doctor before trying new medication with any questions or concerns.

Other treatments for some of the side effects caused by popcorn and the ingredients used to make it included light exercise and a proper diet. As with most things, regular exercise and a balanced diet can truly change how a person feels and how their body reacts to certain situations and foods.

After eating large amounts of processed or starch-heavy foods, a light walk or some light exercise can really change how they are feeling and how the after-effects of the popcorn will be. Drinking a large glass of water before or after eating popcorn can also help to relieve abdominal and stomach pain caused by the popcorn.


When prepared properly and eaten in moderation, popcorn is a very healthy and tasty snack. Unfortunately, when prepared with a lot of butter and salt, popcorn can have some negative effects that no one wants to deal with.

For most people without dietary restrictions, popcorn is overall good and there is nothing too bad about the snack. Sadly, people who have preexisting medical conditions may not be able to eat popcorn or as much as they would like due to due to the medical condition.

If someone has a dietary problem or a medical condition, it is smart to consult a doctor about popcorn and how it could possibly negatively affect them.

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