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DIARRHEA

FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Water
  • Herbal teas
  • Ginger ale
  • Broth
  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast
  • Salted crackers
  • Chicken soup

    FOODS TO LIMIT

  • Dairy products
  • Apple juice
  • Prunes
  • Sugarless chewing gum

    WHO’S AFFECTED

  • Those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease
  • People who are suffering from viruses, bacteria, or parasites
  • People on medications, such as antibiotics, cancer drugs, and antacids containing magnesium
  • Sufferers of Celiac disease
    Diarrhea—the frequent passage of loose, watery stool—is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying problem
    It is most commonly brought on by food poisoning, especially among travelers
    Transient looseness can be caused by overconsumption of laxative foods (such as prunes), heavy use of sugarless chewing gum sweetened with sugar alcohol (such as sorbitol), and some medications
    Emotional stress that causes irritable bowel syndrome may disrupt the normal bowel pattern with alternating diarrhea and constipation; similar symptoms occur in colitis and Crohn’s disease, both inflammatory bowel disorders
    In many instances, diarrhea develops without any identifiable cause, but unless the problem persists or recurs often, this is not a cause for concern
    Acute infectious diarrhea is one of the world’s most common ailments
    An estimated five billion cases occur every year, and in North America, diarrhea is runner-up only to the common cold as a cause for absences from work
    Although diarrhea causes fatalities due to dehydration, it is seldom a threat in affluent, well-nourished societies, except to vulnerable groups: babies, the elderly, and invalids

    Nutrition Connection

    Most cases of diarrhea are minor and short-lived and can be managed at home with simple dietary measures, such as: Stop solid food and rehydrate
    Start by eliminating all solid foods and sipping warm or tepid drinks to prevent any further dehydration
    Drinking half a cup of fluid every 15 minutes or so is usually enough
    Suitable drinks include water, mineral water, herbal teas, and ginger ale
    Clear broths also help replace the salts and other minerals lost in a bout of diarrhea
    You can make your own rehydration fluid by mixing ½ tsp (1 mL) of baking soda, a pinch of salt, and ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) corn syrup or honey in an 8-oz (250-mL) glass of water
    Commercial sports drinks may help, but avoid ones with more than 10% sugar, which can worsen diarrhea
    Slowly introduce low-fiber foods
    When you feel like eating (but preferably not within the first 24 hours), start with low-fiber foods such as crackers, toast, rice, bananas, cooked carrots, boiled potatoes, and chicken
    Often doctors will recommend bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (called the BRAT diet), especially for children
    Apples and other fruits high in pectin (a soluble fiber) help counteract diarrhea; that’s why unsweetened applesauce is a traditional home remedy
    Cooked carrots are also high in pectin
    Other suitable foods include salted crackers and chicken soup, which help to replenish depleted sodium and potassium reserves
    Avoid milk products until the symptoms disappear
    Some of the organisms that cause diarrhea can temporarily impair the ability to digest milk
    Avoid apple juice
    While apples or applesauce can help ease diarrhea, apple juice, can have the opposite effect
    The leftover carbohydrates in apple juice that aren’t absorbed in the small intestine are fermented by bacteria in the colon, potentially leading to diarrhea
    In fact, drinking too much fruit juice of any kind is often the cause of diarrhea in toddlers

    Beyond the Diet

    Address diarrhea as soon as possible using the following suggestions: Try over-the-counter (OTC) remedies
    OTC antidiarrheal drugs may give some relief when diarrhea has no obvious cause or is due to a minor illness such as flu
    Never use a nonprescription antidiarrhea product for more than 2 days without consulting your doctor
    Call a doctor if it’s recurring
    Some people may have chronic diarrhea due to malabsorption of a nutrient, such as lactose intolerance; consult a physician
    Other signs of illness that need medical attention include appearance of blood, mucus, or worms; severe abdominal pain; or diarrhea accompanied by vomiting or fever