Being the favorite topic among toilet humor enthusiasts, in reality, a diarrhea is no joke. Averaging about 2 billion cases globally, it will leave you weak at best or a possible mortality at worst.
A recurring and runny bowel movement due to external infection, antibiotics or a gastrointestinal disease characterizes a diarrhea. It is a condition that affects possibly every human being on this planet at least once in its lifetime. Whoever is reading this is likely to have suffered diarrhea at least once in his or her living memory.
Now something which is this common needs to be dealt with, especially if it is not good for your body. Usually your GP prescribes you general medication for dealing with Diarrhea but what about the diet?
Food and drink item to have during diarrhea is a common query. If you know which items to have and which ones to avoid, you will definitely observe some kind of relief, if not an improvement in your condition.
Food and Beverages to Have in Diarrhea
There are numerous considerations for diet during a bout of loose stool. The foremost of all is cleanliness. You must make sure that whatever you are eating or are about to eat was properly washed before preparation. Make hygiene your first priority. You, your kitchen, the utensils and the vegetables everything should be clean.
Everything must be cooked at a suitable temperature (above 60 deg F) and store any leftover immediately. Any form of bacterial growth must be avoided. Now that you have understood these basic tenets let us move on to what you can eat or drink during Diarrhea.
- Fluid Intake
A general advice during diarrhea is to increase your fluid intake to help make up for the lost fluids. Now these fluids may include-
- Fresh fruit juice (diluted)
- Weak tea
- Sports drink
The goal is to have drinks that can replenish the lost minerals like sodium and potassium in the body. However, the fluid intake must be between the meals and not during the meal.
Oral Rehydration Salts/Solution is a WHO prescribed universal formula for treating your run of the mill diarrhea. ORS is quite effective in replenishing the important minerals and fluid in your body. You can easily find one at your nearest medical store. ORS turned out to be quite revolutionary in the developing countries.
- BRAT Diet
BRAT diet is all mainstream but it fundamentally includes the conventional food items that you might have heard while growing up. It consists of Banana, Rice (White), Applesauce and Toast.
- Banana: It is a rich source of potassium and soluble fiber that makes the stool thick.
- Rice (White): White rice is another binding agent that can be easily digested.
- Applesauce: While it is easy to digest, the pectin in apples can aid in diarrheal recovery. Use the puree of unpeeled apples as apple skin may irritate your bowels.
- Toast: A simple soluble fiber that binds your stool and is easy to digest.
- Boiled potatoes
Eating boiled and peeled potatoes is another excellent source of potassium. Do not eat its peel as it is harder to digest.
Now dairy products are a big no in diarrhea but probiotic yogurts are well worth the try. They have been successful in reducing the duration of diarrhea in children by one day and act as a prophylactic in traveler’s diarrhea.
Yogurt has been linked to treating antibiotic induced and bacteria induced diarrhea. Though statistically significant evidence is yet to be obtained as the research stated there is room for more investigation in the diarrhea associated with antibiotics.
- Other Food items
There are some more food items that you can eat during a diarrhea
- Boiled carrots
- Plain crackers
- Lean meat
- Small amount of fiber
Foods to avoid in diarrhea
Since you have a decent idea about what to eat, pay heed to what you mustn’t eat. In any case, if the situation is not improving it should not become worse. Therefore, try and avoid the food items mentioned below-
Caffeine has a laxative effect on the body, so it is a definite no. Apart from coffee, refrain from drinking any energy drink or strong tea. Apart from that, caffeine is a diuretic, so it will leave you dehydrated.
Alcohol is another diuretic with known history of its hostility towards your stomach. Alcohol is a diarrhea causing agent so avoid it at all costs.
- Dairy products
Lactose intolerance is a big trigger for chronic diarrhea. Products like milk, cream, cheese, butter etc. will be detrimental to your condition, stay away from them.
The only possible exception to this could be probiotic yogurt. Eat it in small quantities first to be sure.
- Sugar and artificial sweetners
Sugar has always been hard to digest for your body so avoid drinking carbonated drinks with high amount of sugar and caffeine. Avoid any sugar laced product.
The same holds true for all the “sugar free” sweeteners or diet soft drinks. The artificial sweetners like sorbitol and mannitol cause irritation in your bowels.
- Fatty and greasy food
Fried fatty junk food is never good news for your body, with or without the diarrhea. So definitely avoid it when your stool is runny.
- Gas inducing food
Although fruits and vegetables are highly recommended part of your diet, avoid these intestinal gas inducing food items during bouts of diarrhea-
If you wish to prevent any trouble due to irritable and runny bowels in future, try and adapt some simple measures:
- Keep a diet diary and note down daily food consumed and the bowel movement to isolate the food items that cause trouble.
- Keep yourself hydrated in between the meals
- All the necessary salts and minerals like sodium and potassium should be present in your daily diet.
- East small meals in every 3 hours.
Keep in mind that a generic dietary recommendation can never be one size fits all type. Every individual’s digestive system has its own strengths and vulnerabilities, allergies and immunity. So always keep your doctor in loop of whatever you are practicing or doing. With the doctor’s help you would be easily able to distinguish the best possible route for a speedy recovery.