Diarrhoea can be irritating and inconvenient, but chances are that most people will experience it at some point in their lives. It can be a symptom of several conditions, ranging from allergies to irritable bowel syndrome. But more often than not, it occurs because you ate something that just did not sit well with your body.
In any case, knowing how to manage your diet while you are down with diarrhoea can help you on the road to recovery. Certain types of food can aid your digestive system in regaining its normal function, while others could easily aggravate the condition. Here are some of the foods that you should and should not eat while suffering from diarrhoea.
Your body loses water from passing out watery stools. This makes you especially vulnerable to dehydration. So, it is imperative to drink plenty of water to replace the fluids that are being lost. You can also get hydrated through other fluid-rich foods and drinks. Some of these include electrolyte-enhanced water, weak tea, and clear broths (with grease and oil removed).
When someone has diarrhoea, the intestinal lining may be irritated and inflamed. As such, you will want to be gentle on your digestive system while it is in the process of recovering. For this purpose, experts recommend that you adopt a bland diet.
Here, the ‘bland’ in bland foods does not refer to a lack of taste. Indeed, many bland foods can be quite flavourful. It is actually a term used to describe foods that are easy on the digestive tract.
Bland foods are usually softer in texture and low in fibre. This makes them easier to stomach and minimises irritation to your digestive tract. The low fibre content also reduces bowel stimulation, making the food easier to digest.
One popular example of a bland food diet is the BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, apples, and toast. The diet does not only consist of these four types of food; they simply serve as a guideline for the food you should consume. It chiefly consists of bland foods like cooked cereal, plain crackers, and applesauce. As such, the diet can be helpful for those experiencing diarrhoea in the short term.
However, due to the low protein and fat content of these foods, it is crucial to reinclude these nutrients in your diet after recovery, such that you get a well-balanced diet. Other bland foods that you can eat include boiled potatoes, porridge, and skinless baked lean chicken.
Food to avoid
Contrary to bland foods, some foods can travel through your bowels quickly, agitating your digestive system. These foods can worsen your diarrhoea or prolong it. Here are some of the worst offenders:
- Fatty foods: Some people’s digestive systems have difficulty digesting fried or creamy foods. If the fats are not absorbed normally, they are broken down into fatty acids in the colon. This stimulates the colon to secrete fluid, causing diarrhoea.
- Dairy products: Many Asian individuals are lactose intolerant. This means that they cannot digest lactose well (lactose being the sugar found naturally in milk). Diarrhoea due to lactose intolerance is usually accompanied by bloated stomach symptoms. In any case, it is best to stay away from butter, cheese, and ice cream while you are recovering.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a diuretic, which is a substance that causes your body to increase the production of urine, and thus lose water. Considering that you want to minimise fluid loss, avoiding alcohol is advised.
- Artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners like Sorbitol can have a laxative effect on some people. They can also stimulate your intestines to produce more water, loosening bowels and triggering diarrhoea.
While diarrhoea will always be an unpleasant experience, you can aid your digestive system in recovering through proper dieting. However, if your diarrhoea persists for an extended period, or you are also dealing with additional symptoms like vomiting or stomach pain, you should see a doctor or gastroenterology specialist for further advice.