The majority of us get diarrhea a few times a year. Diet and diarrhea are closely related, regardless of whether your diarrhea is brought on by allergies, food poisoning, a persistent illness like irritable bowel syndrome, or something else. When you have diarrhea, the best diet to follow is one that is gentle on your digestive system and promotes stool binding. In addition to ensuring that you obtain the nourishment, you need to assist your body’s recovery, knowing what to eat while you have diarrhea can help your condition from growing worse.
Your comfort levels can be significantly impacted by your diet, even if you have chronic digestive issues. There are some items you may eat to help your digestive system get back on track if you are having a bout of diarrhea. You should also steer clear of several meals. The popular BRAT diet, which is used to treat a number of digestive issues, and the diarrhea diet share many similarities. BRAT stands for toast, bananas, rice, and applesauce, and you’ll find these and other foods among the suggestions.
What is Diarrhea?
Whatever you name it—going to the bathroom, having a bowel movement, pooping—stool is a normal part of your existence. However, this method of eliminating waste from your body might occasionally change. Loose or watery stools characterize diarrhea. This is a relatively common ailment that typically goes away on its own.
There are many different causes of diarrhea, and it typically goes away on its own in one to three days. When you have diarrhea, you can feel the urge to use the restroom immediately and more frequently than usual. Additionally, you can feel bloated, get cramps in your lower abdomen, and occasionally feel queasy.
Although the majority of episodes of diarrhea are self-limited (lasting a specific amount of time and progressing at a constant rate of severity), it can occasionally cause life-threatening consequences.
Causes and Symptoms of Diarrhea
Some various ailments or situations might produce diarrhea. Diarrhea may have various causes, including:
- Viral infections including rotavirus, norovirus, and viral gastroenteritis
- Bacterial infections, including Salmonella and E. coli
- Parasitic infections
- Intestinal diseases
- A food intolerance, such as lactose intolerance
- An adverse reaction to a medication
- Gallbladder or stomach surgery
- Eating foods that upset the digestive system
- Malabsorption of food (poor absorption)
Here are the symptoms of diarrhea:
- Abdominal pain
- A frequent urge to evacuate your bowels
- A large volume of stools
Best Foods to Eat for Diarrhea
A person suffering from diarrhea should consume bland, uncomplicated foods that are simple to digest and will assist absorb some water from the stool while healing.
Foods that are spicy or complicated might irritate the bowels. Therefore those who have diarrhea should avoid eating those things. Doctors frequently suggest the BRAT diet, which consists of:
Other suitable foods include:
These foods may be particularly beneficial on the first day of treating diarrhea. Instead of eating a few large meals throughout the day, spread out your meals into several smaller ones to avoid overworking your digestive system.
What to Drink?
Additionally, you must consume a lot of drinks to maintain your hydration and replenish the fluids you are losing. Suck on ice chips and drink a lot of water. You could try the following additional liquids:
- Clear broths without any oil, such as beef or chicken broth
- Coconut water or water that has been fortified with electrolytes or vitamins (try to avoid ones high in sugar)
- Alternatives such as Pedialyte weak tea without caffeine
Which Foods to Avoid in Diarrhea?
There are several foods you want to stay away from while you have diarrhea or are recuperating from it. These meals might upset the stomach and make diarrhea worse or last longer.
Foods to avoid while experiencing diarrhea include:
- Hot Foods: The digestive system may become irritated by spicy ingredients. Bleak foods have the lowest potential to irritate the digestive tract, therefore those who are experiencing diarrhea should avoid straying from them.
- Fried Foods: When recuperating from diarrhea, it is not suggested to consume foods high in fat or oil. The delicate digestive system may have trouble processing additional fats and oils from frying, which would likely exacerbate symptoms. Eat lean proteins and boiled or steamed vegetables as an alternative.
- Meals high in sugar and artificial sweeteners: The sensitive bacteria in the colon may be upset by sugars that enter the body, worsening diarrhea. Fruit juices, high-sugar fruits, confectionery, and sweet baked goods will all include these sugars. Artificial sweeteners should also be avoided by those who have diarrhea since some of them may have a laxative impact.
- Foods high in fiber: Avoiding excessive fiber may also be beneficial. The digestive system remains active thanks to fiber. Normally, this is advantageous, but fiber may exacerbate the symptoms of diarrhea while the body is trying to heal itself.
- Other foods not to eat: In addition, there are several foods that can aggravate diarrheal bowel symptoms: most processed, packaged food, legumes, which include chickpeas, beans, peas, and lentils, foods that produce gas in the intestines, such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, fatty meats, including sardines, pork, and real dairy products,nuts, raw vegetables
What Not to Consume?
Coffee, tea, and soda all contain caffeine, which may overstimulate the digestive tract and exacerbate the symptoms.
Carbonated beverages may aggravate or exacerbate additional symptoms including cramping and bloating. Alcohol should also be avoided by those who have diarrhea.
Despite the fact that many sports beverages contain electrolytes that may prevent dehydration, they frequently also contain extra sweets or artificial sweeteners. Coconut water and water with added electrolytes are both suitable substitutes.
What’s the Difference Between Normal Diarrhea and Severe Diarrhea?
Diarrhea can actually be categorized in a number of different ways. These kinds of diarrhea consist of:
- Acute diarrhea: The most common, acute diarrhea is loose watery diarrhea that lasts one to two days. This type doesn’t need treatment and it usually goes away after a few days.
- Persistent diarrhea: This type of diarrhea generally persists for several weeks – two to four weeks
- Chronic diarrhea: Diarrhea that lasts for more than four weeks or comes and goes regularly over a long period of time is called chronic diarrhea.
How does Diarrhea Affect your Health?
Diarrhea typically self-limits and cures on its own without treatment. You run the danger of consequences if your diarrhea does not get better and clear up entirely (dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, kidney failure, and organ damage).
If you develop signs of dehydration or have diarrhea that doesn’t get better or go away, contact your doctor right away. These signs may manifest as:
- Dark urine and small amounts of urine or loss of urine production.
- Rapid heart rate.
- Flushed, dry skin.
- Irritability and confusion.
- Light-headedness and dizziness.
- Severe nausea and vomiting, the inability to tolerate or keep anything down by mouth.
What are the Treatment Options for Diarrhea?
According to research, replenishing lost fluids is usually required for the treatment of diarrhea. You must therefore consume more water or liquids that replace electrolytes, like sports drinks.
You might receive fluids via intravenous (IV) therapy in more serious circumstances. Your doctor could recommend antibiotics if you have diarrhea brought on by a bacterial infection.
Your doctor will decide your treatment based on:
- The severity of diarrhea and related condition
- The frequency of diarrhea and related condition
- The degree of your dehydration status
- Your health
- Your medical history
- Your age
- Your ability to tolerate different procedures or medications
- Expectations for improvement of your condition
How can I Prevent Diarrhea?
Despite the fact that diarrhea can happen to a variety of causes, there are steps you can do to prevent it:
- You can avoid developing diarrhea from food poisoning by washing the cooking and food preparation areas more frequently.
- Serve food immediately after preparing it.
- Refrigerate leftovers promptly.
- Always thaw frozen food in a refrigerator.
Preventing Diarrhea when Traveling
You can help prevent traveler’s diarrhea by taking the following steps when traveling:
- Asking your doctor if you can begin antibiotic treatment before you leave
- Avoiding tap water, ice cubes, and fresh produce that has probably been washed with tap water while you’re on vacation
- Drinking bottled water only while on vacation
- Eating cooked food only while on vacation
Preventing the Spread of Viral or Bacterial Infections
By washing your hands more frequently if you have diarrhea brought on by a viral or bacterial infection, you can save others from contracting the infection.
Use soap and water to wash your hands for 20 seconds. When washing your hands isn’t an option, use hand sanitizer.
When to Contact a Doctor?
The majority of acute diarrhea episodes resolve on their own, and symptoms usually go better in a couple of days. However, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases advises seeking medical attention if symptoms last for more than two days since you might be dehydrating and require IV fluids or other treatment and evaluation.
Additionally, diarrhea can be a sign of certain very dangerous medical conditions. You should get emergency assistance if you also have any of the following symptoms and loose, watery stools. These signs and symptoms taken together could point to a serious underlying condition.
- A fever
- Bloody stools
- Frequent vomiting
Diarrhea can be cured or caused by your diet. Get lots of rest, drink lots of water, and begin introducing BRAT foods after a few hours if you have diarrhea. You can begin to put in items like lean ground chicken and scrambled eggs after a day or two of bland, soft foods. By adhering to this diet, you can recover more quickly and feel better sooner, allowing you to resume eating all the things you enjoy as soon as possible.
Even while diarrhea is so common, it can still be harmful. You can become extremely dehydrated when you have severe diarrhea, which can have dangerous consequences. One of the most harmful adverse effects of diarrhea is dehydration.
This can have negative effects on the extremely young (infants and young children) and the very old. When you have diarrhea, it’s crucial to consume lots of fluids containing electrolytes. This enables your body to replenish the electrolytes and fluids lost due to diarrhea.