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Suffering from diarrhea? Wondering what to eat when you have diarrhea? Continue reading then…
Diarrhea is a very common disease. It is the passage of loose or watery stools. For some people, diarrhea is usually mild and will go away within a few days. Diarrhea is generally caused by a virus or, sometimes, contaminated food. Rarely can it be a sign of another disorder, such as inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome?
Symptoms include frequent, loose, watery stools and stomach aches. Most cases of diarrhea get solved on their own. Some infections, however, need antibiotics. Severe cases of diarrhea can cause enough dehydration, leading to the requirement of intravenous fluids. For people, diarrhea may last longer. It can make you lose excessive fluid (dehydrated) and feel weak. It can also result in unhealthy weight loss.
The stool is a regular part of your life. However, sometimes this process of getting waste out of your body alters. When you have loose or watery stool, diarrhea is a common condition that usually gets cured without intervention.
Diarrhea can happen for various reasons, and it usually goes away on its own within three days. When you have diarrhea, you may need to take quick errands to the washroom with urgency, which may happen more frequently than normal.
You may also feel bloated, have lower abdominal cramps, and sometimes experience nausea. People with chronic digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s Disease, may experience diarrhea more frequently.
In addition to loose or runny stools, diarrhea is associated with other symptoms, including:
- bloating or cramps
- abdominal bloating and mild to severe pain
- a bubbling sensation in the intestines
- an intense and acute need to have a bowel movement
- unhealthy weight loss
- the appearance of blood or mucus in the stool (in more serious cases of diarrhea)
As stated before, most cases of diarrhea are short-lived and respond well to home treatments such as a modified diet, heavy fluid intake, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
However, in some cases, diarrhea is caused by parasites or bacterial infections and may need to be treated with antibiotics. Consuming probiotics as soon as possible after taking antibiotics can help prevent side effects or adverse reactions to antibiotics by introducing healthy bacteria back into the digestive system. This can also help in thwarting future cases of diarrhea.
While many cases of diarrhea can be treated at home with OTC remedies, rest, and a temporarily restricted diet, if the diarrhea is severe, you may need to be admitted to the hospital to get injected with intravenous fluids.
1. What Causes Diarrhea?
The reasons behind or the cause of most self-limited diarrhea usually do not get identified. The most common cause of diarrhea is a virus infecting your bowel (“viral gastroenteritis”). The infection due to these viruses usually lasts about a few days and is sometimes called “intestinal flu.”
1.1. Other possible causes of diarrhea can include:
- Infection by bacteria.
- Infections by other organisms and pre-formed toxins
- Eating foods that upset the digestive system.
- Allergies and intolerances to certain foods (Celiac disease or lactose intolerant).
- Radiation therapy.
- Malabsorption of food (poor absorption).
2. At-Home Care of Diarrhea (With OTC Medication):
Most cases of diarrhea are short-spanned and respond well enough to home remedies and treatments such as a modified diet, heavy fluid intake, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. OTC treatments include anti-diarrheal medication like Pepto-Bismol, which can help stop or slow down diarrhea.
People with diarrhea should also ensure that they get enough rest since putting the body under stress while dealing with diarrhea may prolong the effects of the disease and recovery.
To avoid putting the body through stress, you should limit your physical activity, as grueling exercise may increase the risk of dehydration. Hydration is vital when managing diarrhea, so you should drink plenty of water throughout the day as a part of the recovery process.
3. When to See a Doctor?
While most cases of diarrhea can be treated and remedied at home with OTC remedies, rest, and a temporarily restricted diet, if the disease lasts long enough, you should visit your doctor. Consult your doctor if your diarrhea lasts more than 2 days without improvement or if you are facing dehydration. Dehydration or other severe symptoms will result in you going to the emergency room for prompt treatment.
Other symptoms to watch for include black or bloody stools (blood or mucus may appear in the stool in more serious cases of diarrhea, which can also involve fever), severe abdominal aches and cramps, or a fever of 102°F (39°C) or higher.
Untreated diarrhea can also lead to serious and prolonged complications, including dehydration. A person with severe diarrhea may require hospitalization and intravenous injection of electrolytes.
4. How to Relieve Diarrhea?
Following are some advice and instructions that may help you feel better and alleviate if you have diarrhea:
- Regular intake of 8 to 10 glasses of clear fluids. Water is the best medicine since diarrhea tends to dehydrate you.
- It is very important to intake at least 1 cup (240 milliliters) of liquid every time you have a loose bowel movement.
- Consume quick meals throughout the day instead of having 3 big meals.
- Intake of some salty foods, such as pretzels, soup, and sports drinks, is likely to be helpful.
- Eat potassium-rich foods like bananas, potatoes without the skin, and fruit juices.
5. What to Eat and Drink when You Are Suffering from Diarrhea
A person’s diet plays a pivotal role if they are experiencing diarrhea. Some foods might help relieve the symptoms of diarrhea, whereas other foods can make them adverse or worse.
6. Benefits of A Suitable Diet when You Have Diarrhea:
If you suffer from diarrhea and potentially related symptoms like nausea, stomach cramps, and bloating, a temporary switch to a limited diet may reduce stress on your digestive system.
A suitable diet, while experiencing diarrhea, gives your bowels a chance to rest and helps restore your body’s fluid and prevent electrolyte imbalance. Uncomplicated and simple choices of food decrease the amount of residue, or undigested waste, in your colon. The colon is the last part of your digestive tract before waste leaves the body, so less waste is equivalent to fewer urgent bowel movements.
The foods in the diarrhea diet are simple and minimal because the whole point and idea are to give your body a break that it requires. The diet may seem a little difficult to follow, but it helps to know that you only need to stick with it temporarily until you recover. On the other hand, adding foods back too quickly may worsen your symptoms, and your diarrhea might last for a prolonged time.
7. What to Eat and Drink When You’re Suffering from Diarrhea
The most suitable diet to follow when experiencing diarrhea is the one that goes easy on your digestive system and helps to cohere or bind stools. Knowing what to eat when you have diarrhea helps prevent your condition from getting worse and ensures that you get the nutrition you need to support your body while it is recovering.
The diarrhea diet has a lot in common with the well-known BRAT diet, which treats various digestive concerns. BRAT means bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. However, BRAT foods don’t have enough of the other nutrients you need, like protein and fat.
You can consume bland foods initially- for the first day or so. But you should return to your normal diet as soon as possible to help provide the necessary nutrients your body requires to function.
7.1. Food That Can Help
Low-Fiber Starches and Cereals
Even though fiber is a critical nutrient that adds bulk to stool, keeps your bowel movements steady, and prevents irregularity, a low-fiber diet is advised when you have diarrhea since it makes digestion easier and decreases the frequency of bowel movements.
Raw vegetables can be harder to digest and can be the reason behind discomfort in the form of gas and bloating, so boiled vegetables may be easier on your system and are recommended when you have diarrhea.
Soup and Crackers
Soup can help recharge and replenish your fluid and nutrient levels, whereas crackers are helpful since they predominantly have a high salt content. Diarrhea can result in considerable loss of fluid and electrolytes, which are minerals like sodium and potassium, so eating salty foods can help restore the electrolytes and prevent electrolytic imbalance.
Lean Chicken or Turkey
Greasy foods with high-fat content can make your diarrhea adverse, so opt for low-fat meat alternatives like skinless chicken or turkey.
Cooked eggs are safe for intake when you have diarrhea. Choose preparations that don’t require much butter, cheese, or seasonings, like scrambled eggs seasoned with salt.
Bananas can help replenish potassium, an important electrolyte that can be lost when you have diarrhea, and other electrolytes that a person may lose due to vomiting or diarrhea. Bananas are not just bland but are also easily digested, making them a good choice for settling an upset digestive system. They are a rich source of pectin, a soluble fiber as well.
If you have diarrhea, eating soluble fiber can help in the absorption of liquid in the intestines while preventing constipation. Applesauce is a better choice than an apple since the fruit’s skin contains insoluble fiber that can strain or strain your digestive system.
People with diarrhea are advised to eat bland foods since spicy or complex foods can irritate bowel movements and aggravate your condition. As mentioned before, doctors often recommended abiding by the BRAT diet, which includes:
- plain white rice
- bread or toast
Other suitable bland foods include:
- boiled potatoes
- unseasoned crackers
- hot cereals, for example, oatmeal, cream of wheat, or rice porridge
As far as vegetables are concerned, they are nutritional powerhouses but can be hard to digest when eaten raw. Transform them into diarrhea diet-friendly by peeling them, removing any seeds, and cooking them carefully or thoroughly. The skin of a baked potato is nutritious, but it may contain more fiber than your system can handle while recovering from diarrhea, so adhere to peeled, plain potatoes instead.
Ginger can help combat nausea, which might recur as a common symptom of diarrhea. A person can make ginger tea by slicing or grating fresh ginger and adding hot water to it. Sipping this mixture may help to resolve an upset stomach. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties that help to alleviate and ease IBDs.
Hot cereals like flour are easy to digest and likely to contain added vitamins. As you recover, you might introduce oatmeal too. Oats are a source of soluble fiber, which can hold together, firm, and thicken the stool, consequently reducing diarrhea. If you usually flavor oatmeal with sugar, honey, syrup, or butter, you should avoid them until your diarrhea clears up.
Whole wheat is generally considered the healthier toast option; white bread may be better since it’s way easier to digest. Saltines and pretzels are frequently made with white flour rather than wheat. They also contain salt, which can help restore your body’s sodium balance.
Plain white rice is easily digested and adhering and binding, which helps to firm up loose stools. Cook it simply or with chicken broth. Another option is pasta made from white flour without sauce or butter.
Steamed white meat chicken is one of the most easily digestible animal protein sources. Lean turkey, beef, pork, and fish are also fine.
Another way to help yourself recover from a diarrheal infection is to consume Probiotics, food, or a dietary supplement containing live bacteria, which replaces or adds to the helpful bacteria generally found in the gastrointestinal tract. Drinking plenty of water helps prevent dehydration due to electrolytic imbalance and flush out toxins from the body.
Liquids are also vital to recovery. For people with diarrhea, it is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drinking an additional cup of water after every loose bowel movement is also advisable.
As well as water, the body loses minerals and electrolytes through diarrhea, so people should try to drink liquids containing minerals and electrolytes to replenish those lost. Sources of electrolytes and minerals include:
- soup or broth
- coconut water
- electrolyte water
- sports drinks
Bone broth can help restore and replace fluids and sodium lost from repeated bouts of diarrhea.
8. What Not to Eat
Many foods can aggravate diarrhea and make it worse. These include:
8.1. Spicy Food
Spicy ingredients can irritate the digestive system. People dealing with diarrhea should hence adhere to bland foods, as they pose the minimum risk of agitating or irritating the digestive system.
8.2. Fried Foods
It is not recommended to consume foods rich in fat or oil when recovering from diarrhea. Added fats and oils from frying can be difficult for the already sensitive digestive system to process and will likely make symptoms worse. Instead, a person can try eating boiled or steamed vegetables and lean on proteins.
8.3. Sugary Foods
Sorbitol and artificial sweeteners and sugar that pass into the colon may derange or disrupt the already sensitive bacteria there, making diarrhea worse. These sugars will be present in fruit juices and fruits rich in sugar, as well as in candy and baked goods. People with diarrhea should also avoid artificial sweeteners, some of which can have a laxative or purgative effect.
8.4. Foods Rich in Fiber
Fiber helps keep the digestive system active. Generally, this is good exercise, but when the body is trying to recover from diarrhea, fiber might make the symptoms of the disease worse.
Insoluble fibers, which are the main malefactor, are in various foods, including:
- whole grains, which include wheat, rice, and barley
- whole grain bread or baked goods
- grain cereals
- nuts and seeds
Soluble fibers, such as the pectin in fruits like apples and bananas, can help a person recover from diarrhea. However, a person should still try to limit their intake, at least during the initial days of symptoms.
- Other foods that can instigate and irritate the bowels during diarrhea include:
- most processed, packaged food
- legumes including chickpeas, beans, peas, and lentils
- foods that induce or produce gas in the intestines, such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower
- fatty meats, including sardines, pork, and veal
- dairy products
- raw vegetables
- Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, and soda, may overstimulate the digestive system and worsen Diarrhea symptoms.
- Carbonated drinks also irritate or contribute to other symptoms of diarrhea, such as bloating and abdominal aches and cramps. People should also avoid alcohol when dealing with diarrhea since alcohol can act as a diuretic, meaning it’s dehydrating. Although many sports drinks contain electrolytes that can help with dehydration, they often contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners, which are not advisable to consume during diarrhea. Coconut water and electrolyte-enriched water are good alternatives.
- Fatty food – Diarrhea can get aggravated by fried foods, greasy, or covered in gravy.
- Dairy products stay away from dairy products when you have diarrhea.
9. Foods You Need to Swear by When You’re Suffering from Diarrhea
- White bread or toast
- Coconut water
- Plain pasta
- White potato (peeled)
- White rice
- Canned pears
- Eggs (soft-cooked)
- Low-fat yogurt
- Chicken breast (skinless)
- Soda crackers
- Decaffeinated tea (weakly brewed)
10. Foods You Should Avoid
- Dairy (except yogurt)
- Fried, fatty, or spicy meat
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Raw vegetables
- Onion and garlic
- Potato chips
- Sugar-free candy or gum
- Cabbage and broccoli
- Dried fruit
- Nut butter
- Carbonated drinks
- Citrus fruit and juices
Now you know what you should eat and what you shouldn’t when you have diarrhea.