When you have diarrhoea – frequent loose and watery stools – being mindful of what you are eating throughout the day can make a big difference to your condition. Whether you have diarrhoea because of eating contaminated food, food intolerance or allergies, or a chronic issue like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), your diet will play an integral role in the management of this condition.
Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medicines can bring relief if you have acute (short-term) diarrhoea or IBS. Loperamide or bismuth subsalicylate act quickly on diarrhoea and relieve symptoms.
Your comfort levels can be significantly impacted by your diet, especially if you have chronic digestive issues. If you have diarrhoea, there are some foods you should take to bring your digestive system back to order. You should also steer clear of some foods so that your digestive system is not triggered.
Foods to eat during loose motions
The things you eat and stay away from while you have diarrhoea can make a big difference in how quickly you recover. Along with medicines, the key is to stick to the BRAT diet for diarrhoea, which are bland and easily digestible.
B – Bananas are rich in antioxidants and fibre that can bulk up your stool and regular bowel movements. They also have sodium and potassium which can help with replenishing the electrolytes one loses because of loose motions.
R – Rice (plain white) is neutral in taste and is compatible with an irritated and inflamed digestive system. Rice has fibrous and is starchy, which means it absorbs the extra water in stool and helps bind it.
A – Apples have pectin which can relieve the symptoms of diarrhoea. They also have soluble fibre that will bulk up your poop.
T – Toast is a good source of carbohydrates and it’s neutral in nature. You will also get the energy you need after frequenting the restroom multiple times along with your stool becoming firmer.
Other alternatives to rice are rice-based dishes like idli, rice with curd, oats, and even plain khichdi. You can have plain salter crackers instead of toast if you are looking for some variety. Boiled potatoes with some salt and pepper also make for a hearty food for loose motions.
Psyllium husk or isabgol is a food that stops diarrhoea if it is mild to moderate. It absorbs a substantial amount of water in your digestive, which makes stools bulkier and slower to expel.
Keeping yourself hydrated while you have any type of diarrhoea is integral to your wellness. Water is the primary choice for this, but you can have coconut water, dairy-based drinks like buttermilk and lassi, electrolyte enhanced water, ORS (oral rehydration solution), and decaffeinated tea.
Probiotics have been found to have a positive impact on the digestive system during diarrhoea because they improve the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. Yoghurt and curd are a good probiotic source. Then having sweetened probiotic drinks available in the market or probiotic supplements can also be helpful. However, if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to lactose, then you can find alternatives like fermented soy products. Speak to your doctor before you start taking probiotics.
Foods to avoid during diarrhoea
There are some foods you want to stay away from while you have diarrhoea or are recuperating from it. These meals might upset the stomach and make diarrhoea worse or last longer.
Spicy foods: The digestive system may become irritated by spicy ingredients. Try eating bland foods if you have diarrhoea because they have the lowest chance of irritating your digestive system. Chilli peppers have capsaicin that gives them heat and can trigger your symptoms.
Fried foods: Indulging in fried foods should be in moderation, but they should be a strict no-no when you have diarrhoea. The fats and oils from these foods do not get absorbed in your gut, and exacerbate your symptoms. Eat lean proteins and boiled or steamed veggies as an alternative.
Foods high with sugar and artificial sweeteners: The sensitive bacteria in the colon may be upset by sugars that enter the body, worsening diarrhoea. Fruit juices, high-sugar fruits, confectionery, and sugary baked goods are included in this list. Artificial sweeteners should also be avoided by those who have diarrhoea since some of them may have a laxative impact.
Raw and high fibre foods: When you have diarrhoea, you need to eat foods that will bind your stools, not foods that can loosen them further. So, avoiding raw vegetables and fruits till you reach a point of recovery is a good idea.
Processed and fast food: Saturated and trans fats are present in fried, greasy, and fatty foods from takeout and fast food joints. These foods may result in diarrhoea or exacerbate the condition. This happens because the body has a hard time digesting them.
Avoid alcohol, aerated beverages, and caffeine: All three are irritants and will only exacerbate your symptoms. Carbonated beverages may aggravate your condition or give additional symptoms like cramping and bloating. Alcohol should also be avoided by those who have diarrhoea. Even though many sports beverages contain electrolytes that may prevent dehydration, they frequently also contain artificial sweeteners. Coconut water and water with added electrolytes are both suitable substitutes.
Dairy: Not everyone can digest dairy and dairy products efficiently when dealing with diarrhoea.
Other foods to avoid:
- Nuts, seeds and dried fruits
- Broccoli, green beans, cabbage and cauliflower
- Fatty meats and red meat
- Cured meats