Diarrhea is a common disorder, and we all have experienced the severity of it at some point in time. Diarrhea offers a wide range of symptoms such as bloating, frequent loose stools, abdominal cramping, and tummy pain.
A study conducted in the US amongst 604 kids aged 3 to 36 months in general community settings ahead of the introduction of rotavirus vaccination concluded that the highest frequency of acute Diarrhea was during January and August, revealing an overall occurrence of 2.21 episodes per person per year.
About 90 percent of these cases were associated with acute Diarrhea(1) (i.e., lasting a maximum of 14 days at a stretch, with an average duration of 2 days and an average of 6 stools a day)
What Does Healthy Diet Comprise of?
A balanced meal contains all three core food groups in the right proportion. Talking about the ratio, a balanced diet includes one-quarter carbohydrates, one-quarter proteins, and mixed vegetables.
A balanced or healthy meal contains all three core food groups (within one complete portion) as discussed below:
1. ½ Carbohydrate-Rich Foods for Energy
Foods rich in carbohydrate include rice, pasta, bread, barley, quinoa, couscous, potatoes, oats, and cereals. These carbohydrate-rich foods provide energy for the muscles, brain, and other vital organs of the body. Dieticians prefer wholegrain carbohydrates since they include essential vitamin B and fiber, hence adding to the value of a healthy meal.
2. ¼ Protein Foods for Body Growth and Damage Repair
Protein-rich foods include eggs, pulses, milk, yogurt, seafood, poultry, red meat, cheese, tofu, and nuts. This core food group is essential for maintaining red blood cells, enzyme and hormone production, and muscle tissue growth. Children need more of these protein-rich foods to support the needs of their growing bodies and to prevent physical illness.
3. ½ Veggies for a Healthy Metabolism
Vegetables, herbs, and seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Minerals and vitamins keep our organs and metabolism running efficiently, hence promoting healthy living. Antioxidants and vitamins repair tissue and muscle damaged resulting from environmental pollutants or metabolic processes.
Diets to Treat Diarrhea
1. Low Fiber Diet
What is a Low Fiber diet?
Low Fiber diets include the food items that contain a small amount of fiber content that facilitate smooth bowel movements. It mainly consists of the roughages, that make the digestion process easy to stimulate bowels.
The estimated amount of 25 grams of low fiber content per day can generate good health of the intestines. A low fiber diet includes food items like cereals, fruits, vegetables, bread, nuts, legumes, dried beans, meat, fish, poultry, milk, and other dairy products.
List of Foods under Low Fiber Diet
Banana is a perfect fruit that can soothe you from the symptoms of Diarrhea. It holds a significant number of properties, and it is a good source of potassium, which is also essential for the blood vessels.
How to use?
You can eat bananas by including them in your milkshakes or smoothies. They can add good texture and flavor to your fruit custards. Also, you can eat some bananas by cutting and freezing them along with some sugar.
Why does it work?
Bananas are easily digested and, therefore, make a great option to settle your upset stomach. They are an excellent source of pectin, an essential fiber that comes handy in absorbing liquid in your intestines to help move stools along smoothly. Also, potassium in bananas provides you the much-needed electrolyte replacement after a severe bout of Diarrhea.
Avoid overeating bananas during bananas as if induced in large quantities, it could aggravate Diarrhea.
2. Canned Fruits
As per the USDA guidelines, canned fruits are equally healthy as the normal ones. Canned fruits are stored by using different ways.
Why do they work?
It is a benefit provided by the canned fruits that they do not tend to lose Vitamin C when stored for several days. The Vitamin retains in the can even if you save it for several months. The canned fruits do not lose their nutrient value when packed in a can.
Veggies offer essential nutrition and certainly deserve a spot in your diet while you’re suffering from Diarrhea. Carrots, acorn squash, peeled zucchini, and green beans, beets are all excellent choices. If you have never tried steaming or microwaving a carrot, you will be amazed at how delicious and sweet it can get.
When suffering from Diarrhea, you must consider avoiding vegetables that are hard to digest and tend to cause gas, including broccoli, green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, peppers, corn, and peas.
How to use?
You can use carrots in the form of carrot soup, which will boost up the metabolism of your gut and improve your digestion. Carrot soup can help you fight with dehydration, fulfilling the requirements of essential minerals, supplying pectin to stop the inflammation of intestine walls, and preventing the feeling of nausea or vomiting.
Side Effect or Precaution
- Do not heat the carrots for long, as they can lose all the essential nutrients due to excessive heat.
Clear Liquid Diet
The purpose of Clear Liquid Diarrhea diet is to prepare the stomach and the body for any medical test or surgeries. The surgeries require no or less food in the stomach, that’s why the patient is asked to follow a liquid diet which consists of only liquids. A clear Liquid diet is highly beneficial if you want to avoid the feeling of nausea and vomiting post the surgery. The following liquids are the part of a liquid diet –
- Carbonated, plain or flavored water
- Juices of fruits that do not have pulp, such as – apple and white grape juice
- Beverages with a fruity flavor, such as lemonade
- Tea or Coffee (without milk or cream)
- The clear and fat-free broth
- Sports drinks
- Dark sodas and carbonated drinks
- Vegetable juice
- Strained tomato juice
- Sugar or Honey
- Peppermint rounds or lemon drops
- Ice popsicles (without milk) made of nuts, seeds or fruits
BRAT Diet for Diarrhea
When trying to overcome a severe bout of Diarrhea, you might wonder what foods are safe to eat and what is not. You may want to have foods that go easy on your digestive system and provide a soothing effect. You won’t surely look to avoid foods altogether, but may look for those foods that can aid in slowing things down.
While dealing with Diarrhea, you should eat pure, bland foods that are not just easy to digest but also help absorb water from the stools, hence giving bulk to your stools along with relieving the symptoms of watery bowel movements.
The Traditional BRAT diet for chronic diarrhea is not anymore the preferred choice for stomach issues since it is too restrictive. Also, in case your Diarrhea is a result of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the traditional BRAT diet, especially the applesauce, is likely to prove ineffective.
Food to Avoid from Your Diet If You Have Diarrhea
When you have Diarrhea, it is imperative to know what foods to eat. However, it is just as essential to know what foods to avoid. The last thing you’d want is to aggravate the condition by eating something you shouldn’t.
Here’s a list of foods you must avoid when you have Diarrhea:
1. Dairy Products
It is advised that you avoid milk products during and immediately after having bouts of Diarrhea. Diarrhea tends to reduce the quantity of enzyme lactase, which is needed by your body for digesting lactose (i.e., the sugar found in milk products). If the ‘milk sugar’ remains undigested, it can further aggravate the symptoms of Diarrhea, nausea, bloating, and gas.
2. Fatty Foods
Fatty foods such as fried, greasy, creamy, and fast foods tend to speed up your intestinal contraction, causing a reaction to your digestive system that is already weakened and sensitive. As a result, the symptoms of Diarrhea may reverse.
3. Sugar-free Foods
Sugar-free foods such as sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners exhibit laxative properties along with contributing to excessive bloating and gas. Therefore, you must avoid them for a few days even after you feel you’ve recovered from Diarrhea.
4. Gas-producing Foods
Excess of intestinal gas can aggravate the symptoms of Diarrhea. Therefore people with Diarrhea must consider avoiding foods that tend to cause stomach gas such as onions, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and beans.
5. Caffeine, Alcohol, and Carbonated Beverages
Carbonated beverages, alcohol, and caffeine are GI irritants, means they tend to irritate the lining of your stomach as well as intestines, which can reverse symptoms of Diarrhea even days after they have subsided. Therefore, you must consider avoiding these beverages when you have Diarrhea and for a few days post recovery.
General Preventive Measures for Diarrhea
While symptoms of Diarrhea may vary from person to person, the most common symptoms include dehydration, stomach cramps, fever, chills, bloody stools (in the case of infectious Diarrhea), and reduced bowel control. Here are some general preventive measures that you can choose to prevent Diarrhea –
- Drink only bottled water. Even for brushing your teeth will avoid contamination through the water.
- Try to avoid eating street foods or food from the roadside stalls or vendors.
- Do not use tap water to freeze some ice. Use fresh drinking or bottled water to do so.
- Consume the fruits that can be easily peeled and the vegetables that get cooked faster thoroughly.
- The food you eat should be steaming hot when served and check if everything is thoroughly cooked or not.
- If you prefer eating seafood or meat, then try to avoid eating undercooked or raw food.
- Before traveling to the regions that are prone to Hepatitis A and typhoid, get their vaccinations too.
It is not pleasing to undergo a severe bout of Diarrhea. In such a condition, the last thing you would want is to eat or drink something you should not and end up making things worse.
With the food options discussed in this post, you will have plenty of options that will not further haunt your stomach.
If you face a severe bout of Diarrhea lasting for more than 2 to 3 days, if you are dehydrated, have chills or fever, or notice pus or blood in your stool, consult a registered medical practitioner immediately to rule out other critical underlying cause.
1. What’s good to eat when you have Diarrhea?
When you have Diarrhea, consider eating foods that help restore the lost nutrients and electrolytes. Some of the best foods to have while recovering from Diarrhea include bananas, yogurt, white rice, soup broth, electrolyte water, sports drinks, and coconut water.
2. How can you alleviate Diarrhea on a liquid diet?
The liquid diet helps in making the digestion faster and in the absorption of all the essential nutrients easily. It does not hinder the bowel movements and also facilitates the surgeries and medical tests if any.
3. Can you eat eggs when you have Diarrhea?
Eggs come under the poultry products and are low in fiber content. Food items with low fiber content facilitate the bowel movements and do not hinder the digestion process.