Diarrhea Has A Diet, Too

Diarrhea is a bowel movement that is more liquid than solid or has a loose texture. It is a common problem and may occur a couple of times each year. Diarrhea will usually last no more than 3 days.

Soft, bland foods, such as toast, will help to absorb excess water and ease the symptoms of diarrhea.

People with chronic digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease, may experience diarrhea more regularly.

In addition to loose or runny stools, diarrhea is also associated with other digestive symptoms, including:

  • cramps
  • abdominal bloating and pain
  • a bubbly feeling in the intestines
  • an urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever

A person’s diet is crucial if they are experiencing diarrhea. Some foods might help relieve symptoms of diarrhea while eating other foods can make diarrhea worse.

While recovering from diarrhea, a person should eat bland, simple foods that are easy to digest and will help absorb some water from the stool.

People with diarrhea should eat bland foods, as spicy or complex foods can irritate the bowels. Bland foods that may help with diarrhea include:

  • hot cereals, such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, or rice porridge
  • bananas
  • applesauce
  • plain white rice
  • bread or toast
  • boiled potatoes
  • unseasoned crackers

These foods may be especially helpful on the first day of dealing with diarrhea. Eating many small meals throughout the day can help keep the digestive system from becoming overworked.

Probiotic foods, such as yogurt and kefir, may help in some cases, but in others, probiotics may irritate the digestive system even more.

Probiotics aid digestion by improving the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. However, dairy products can irritate the digestive system, so a person may wish to try non-dairy sources of probiotics, such as miso or sauerkraut.

Liquids are also vital to recovery. People with diarrhea must drink plenty of water throughout the day and should drink an additional cup of water after every loose bowel movement.

Drinking plenty of water helps prevent dehydration and flush any toxins out of the body.

Soup broth will help to replace minerals and electrolytes lost because of diarrhea.

However, as well as water, the body also loses minerals and electrolytes through diarrhea. People should try to drink liquids containing minerals and electrolytes to replenish those lost. Sources of electrolytes and minerals include:

  • soup broth
  • coconut water
  • electrolyte water (A.K.A.)
  • sports drinks

Many foods can aggravate the digestive system and make diarrhea worse. These include:

Spicy ingredients can act as irritants in the digestive system. This is why people dealing with diarrhea should stick to bland foods, as they pose the least risk of agitating the digestive system.

It is not advisable to eat foods high in fat or oil when recovering from diarrhea. Added fats and oils from frying can be difficult for the sensitive digestive system to process and will likely make symptoms worse.

A person can try eating boiled or steam vegetables and lean proteins instead.

Sugars that pass into the colon may disrupt the already sensitive bacteria there, making diarrhea worse. This includes fruit juices and high-sugar fruits.

People with diarrhea should also avoid artificial sweeteners, as some can have a laxative effect.

It may also help to avoid too much fiber. Fiber helps keep the digestive system active. Usually, this is a good thing, but when the body is trying to recover from diarrhea, fiber may make symptoms worse.

Insoluble fibers are the main culprit and can be found in foods such as:

  • whole grains, such as wheat, rice, and barley
  • whole grain bread or baked goods
  • grain cereals
  • nuts and seeds

Soluble fibers, such as the pectin found in apples and bananas, can actually help a person recover from diarrhea, but a person should still try to limit their intake at least for the first day of symptoms.


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