Diarrhea is a common problem that happens to all of us, so it is important what food to eat and what to avoid in such moments.
Unfortunately, summer is the season when diarrhea problems are most prevalent, although they are present throughout the year. Statistics show that most people experience these problems at least once or twice a year.
Today, we will learn much more about what to eat and what to drink when you are already experiencing the discomfort caused by diarrhea.
In short, what is diarrhea and what are the possible causes?
Diarrhea is defined as a condition in which metabolic processes in the digestive system are disrupted, resulting in at least 3 liquid stools during the day.
However, diarrhea is usually accompanied by more typical symptoms, such as unpleasant abdominal pain, cramps, nausea and vomiting, fever, etc.
All of these symptoms lead to significant fluid loss in the body.
There are two types of diarrhea: acute and chronic
Acute lasts for one to two days, while chronic symptoms can last for weeks or even months.
Most often, the chronic type of this disease is the result of some other more severe digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, some malignancies, antibiotic therapies, endocrine disorders, etc.
Therefore, it is important for people who have this problem to consult their doctor as soon as possible.
It is important to note that frequent urination can not in itself be defined as diarrhea, if the structure of the stool is not disturbed, ie it is not fluid.
Swollen stools in infants are also normal.
The most common causes of diarrhea are infections of the gastrointestinal tract caused by some pathogenic microbes – bacteria (or just bacterial toxins found in some food), viruses, or some parasitic organisms.
The most common culprits are bacteria of the genera: Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, and Escherichia coli, or just their toxins and rotaviruses.
Certain conditions can also be caused by diarrhea: lactose intolerance, food allergy, digestive surgery, certain medications, digestive diseases, etc.
Symptoms of diarrhea
Symptoms of diarrhea are easily recognizable and include abdominal pain and/or cramps, a very frequent and urgent need to empty, vomiting, nausea, fever, runny, sometimes bloody stools, and dehydration.
These are the symptoms of acute diarrhea, but they also apply to chronic diarrhea. of thirst and decreased frequency of urination.
Natural treatments for diarrhea
It is very important to emphasize that moderate, acute forms of diarrhea can be treated without medication.
In our previous articles we talked about more natural aspects of treating this condition, but today we will focus only on the nutrition part.
Fortunately, there are many types of foods that can significantly help reduce the symptoms of diarrhea.
Diet for diarrhea
If you are experiencing symptoms of diarrhea, as already mentioned, it is important to change more habits, especially those of eating.
Following a certain diet for a few days or as long as the symptoms last, you will allow yourself better absorption of nutrients, reduced stress in the digestive system, and “rest” for your intestines.
All this will significantly contribute to an accelerated healing process.
The diet that we will suggest will help you to facilitate the retention of fluids in the body, as well as to maintain the electrolyte balance, which is extremely important in diarrhea.
Simple foods, such as easily digestible foods, will reduce the amount of waste or feces that ends up in the colon.
This means that you will have fewer bowel movements and smaller movements – also especially important for diarrhea.
How is this diet implemented?
The food used in this diet is particularly simple.
The idea is to give the body a “space” for rest and sighing.
It is important to say that this diet should be strictly practiced while the symptoms last, but it is not permanent, but specifically designed for the period in which you have problems with diarrhea.
It is not permanent because it can lead to a lack of different nutrients in the long run.
Also, it can not be practiced for any prevention of diarrhea.
Additionally, the following suggestions should be seen as a basis in the diet for diarrhea, certain foods that you are sure or know from experience that will not cause you problems, you are free to consume.
One of the basics of this diet is to avoid foods rich in fiber, foods that are otherwise extremely healthy.
This does not mean the complete exclusion of fiber foods, but its reduction to a large extent, ie to a degree that will not adversely affect our symptoms.
Fruits and vegetables for diarrhea
Bananas are soft and easily digestible, which makes them great for calming an upset stomach.
They are also an excellent source of potassium – an important electrolyte that is lost in large quantities in diarrhea, but also of pectin – a soluble type of fiber.
In case of diarrhea, it is important to replace the insoluble with soluble fiber, as they help absorb excess fluid in the intestines while preventing the development of constipation.
Another good choice of fruits is fruit purees, such as those of apple, because they do not contain peel, unlike fresh fruits.
Insoluble fiber is present in the husk, which can cause us problems.
In one of the previous articles, we talked a lot about the importance of consuming more fresh food, especially in this period when the markets are too rich with vegetables and fruits in different colors.
Although most vegetables are an excellent source of nutrients, which is low in calories, diarrhea is not good to eat fresh.
Fresh vegetables are rich in the fiber of all kinds, which makes digestion difficult.
Fortunately, there is a way to get this food safely in case of diarrhea – to wash it properly, clean it of seeds and digest it.
So, when you have diarrhea, use mostly cooked vegetables, such as pre-peeled potatoes, carrots, zucchini, beets… and stay away from the following types of vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, peas, green beans, and corn – can cause gases.
Are cereals good for diarrhea?
We emphasize whole grains and their products in numerous articles as a healthy option, and even as the basis of what a healthy lifestyle means.
However, given that they are particularly rich in fiber, they can make our diarrhea symptoms worse.
Therefore, in the period when we have symptoms, it is good to use cereals that are more refined but do not contain added sugars.
This refers to white and semi-white bread, semolina, rusks, and the exception is oats, which are rich in fiber, but largely soluble fiber.
As already mentioned, it is good to avoid instant cereals with added sugars.
But also to avoid sweeteners that you add, such as sugar, honey, various sweet syrups, and the like.
“White” starchy foods are the basis of the anti-diarrhea diet
If you have a good habit of consuming whole grains instead of white rice, the period of diarrhea should be an exception.
It is better for you to cook white rice which can be digested significantly easier in our system.
White paste, without additives such as dairy products, oils, and sauces based on processed ketchup is probably the most delicious meal that would not create special problems with diarrhea.
Dairy products and meat
Avoid animal products for diarrhea, especially over-processed ones. Even if you do not have lactose intolerance, dairy products can greatly complicate digestion.
The only exceptions are yogurts with lower fat and no added sweeteners, which are considered probiotic foods.
The same goes for kefir and sour milk – fermented dairy products.
The most easily digestible in this category is considered to be the protein of white chicken.
Drinks during diarrhea
Proper hydration or adequate drinking water should be one of the key elements of a diet for diarrhea.
The water we drink also contains a certain percentage of electrolytes, so drinking water will not only help to compensate for the water that is largely lost during diarrhea but will also help to compensate for the electrolytes.
Drinking different so-called electrolyte-rich sports drinks, but be careful not to add too much sugar.
Additionally, of course, this includes eating lighter soups and stews.
The habits of drinking coffee and tea are also positive, but we should avoid them as much as possible in case of diarrhea.
Carbonated and sweetened juices are never recommended.
Although it helps some people, mineral water is generally not recommended either, as it can create gas and other discomforts.
In addition, it is important to note that care should be taken with the temperature of the drinks.
In diarrhea, they should be neither too hot nor too cold, as this can cause turbulent movements in our intestines – something we do not like, especially with diarrhea.
Desserts and snacks
Avoid sweetened cookies and any other sweets too rich in sugars, but also drinks that contain sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, xylitol, and the like.
They can have a laxative effect.
Although various puddings and ice creams are soft foods that are easy to digest.
They are often known to contain large amounts of sugar and milk – something that should be avoided in diarrhea.
Therefore, choose puddings and ice creams without a lot of sugar and with a minimum amount of milk (lactose).
Avoid fatty and very salty snacks, and replace them with low-calorie white flour crackers.
In essence, what should be avoided as much as possible?
You should avoid:
- processed foods (chips, smokes, cookies, etc.)
- any carbonated beverages
- fried foods
- any kind of dairy products
- chewing gum, candy
- dried fruit
- caffeinated beverages
- too many sugary drinks of any kind
foods or beverages rich in magnesium
- any food with artificial sweeteners or spicy foods
- whole-grain foods rich in insoluble fiber
- various nuts and seeds
- puff pastry
Depending on your symptoms, you may need to stay on liquid food for several hours or even a whole day.
When you feel the need for food, choose softer foods and start with smaller portions.
Eat smaller amounts, but slightly more often.
Always prefer cooked food to fresh and avoid butter, oil, margarine, and various sauces when cooking.
When returning to a normal diet, start slowly and gradually.
Start with smaller portions and gradually add heavier foods to digest, such as high-protein foods, high-fiber foods, whole grains, and more.
Prevention of diarrhea
Although it can be the result of a number of causes.
There are certain procedures that can significantly reduce the likelihood of diarrhea of any type.
Procedures that can help:
- Wash your hands properly (with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds), the food being prepared, and the places where you are cooking.
- Serving food immediately after preparation is another way to prevent food contamination.
- Proper storage of food in the refrigerator.
- A healthy diet is rich in fiber and probiotic foods.
According to research, as much as 1/3 of cases of diarrhea can be prevented only by following the first mentioned good habit – proper handwashing.
Diarrhea is a common problem that occurs in all of us. Statistics show that 1-2 times a year, most people in the world have this problem.
Diarrhea is defined as a condition in which metabolic processes in the human digestive system are disrupted. There are two types of diarrhea, acute and chronic.
Recognizable symptoms of diarrhea are abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting, nausea, loose stools, and more.
Foods such as bananas, fruit purees, boiled potatoes, carrots, and more should be eaten.
On the other hand, fried foods, carbonated beverages, dried fruits, and more should be avoided.
Prevention of diarrhea is hand washing, proper storage of food in the refrigerator, and more.