Diarrhea is nothing but loose, watery stools or faeces, which occur as a direct result of gastroenteritis or food poisoning. Diarrhea may also occur due to a drug reaction or an allergenic reaction. Long and severe bouts of diarrhea are dangerous and can leave you severely dehydrated and weak. In such cases, it becomes all the more important to eat healthily without overloading your digestive system. Here are some of the top foods that you can consume while you have diarrhea. Remember to progress from liquids to semi-solids to solids to help your digestive system to adjust to the intake of food.
Foods to Relieve Diarrhea
Hydration In The Form Of Fluids and Water
The first couple of days of diarrhea can be very severe and debilitating. In such cases, it becomes important to drink plenty of fluids in the form of oral rehydration solution. This solution consists of sugar and some basic salts, which help to restore the electrolyte balance in the body. In addition, warm soups like clear chicken soup can be had. It may take a day or two for the digestive system to adjust to the intake of liquids. If you cannot have too much at one go, keep sipping on the fluids throughout the day.
Once you start to feel mildly better and find your appetite returning, start by eating a mashed banana. Have half the fruit and see how well you can tolerate it. Bananas are rich sources of energy giving carbohydrates and potassium, which help to replenish lost electrolytes in the body.
A gradual return to solids can be started with the consumption of rice. Have it in the form of a thick, gruel like khichdi. Khichdi is an Indian delicacy that is made from boiled rice and dal. To it, add just a pinch of turmeric and salt for taste. The combination of rice and dal will help you feel stronger after the diarrhea has dissipated.
Apples and Applesauce
As your body begins to get back to normal, you may find yourself feeling hungrier. Stick to apple juices, applesauce on toast or cut pieces of apple, which give you valuable roughage and help to strengthen your digestive system. Apples have fibre that helps to firm up the stools.
For breakfast, having a piece of dry toast is a good option for recovering diarrhea patients. Have it dry without any margarine or butter. If you find it tasteless, try just a very small dollop of jam, which will not do you any harm.
Tea is an excellent remedy for diarrhea. Avoid strong, black tea as it can irritate the digestive lining and cause heartburn. Stick to milder forms of tea like green tea and chamomile tea. Chamomile tea soothes the digestive system and eases out all the symptoms of diarrhea.
Carom Seed Water
Yogurt takes the cake for being one of the best foods for diarrhea. If you cannot take it in its original form, try it in the form of a refreshingly light buttermilk. Yoghurt is light on the system, has a cooling effect, gives energy and strengthens the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, which eventually fight of diarrhea causing bacteria.
Avoid other Forms of Dairy
Other forms of dairy like milk are a strict no-no as they act as laxatives and may induce vomiting. Return to milk only once you start to feel normal. Milk is known to cause temporary lactose intolerance in diarrhea patients.
Crackers and Dry Biscuits
Another good option for loose stools is crackers and dry biscuits that are devoid of fat or are low in fat. These should be had after a week or so when the diarrhea has started to dissipate. It is important to remember that the patient must resume a normalcy in eating very gradually.
Ginger or Liquorice Tea
Once you become completely ok, start having a glass of red wine 2-3 times a week. Red wine has powerful anti-bacterial properties that prevent the recurrence of diarrhea. It also has potent anti-oxidants that help to enhance your overall immunity.
Foods to Avoid
Take as much rest as you can. Avoid exercising, or going out. Make sure you switch from one food to another very slowly and gradually. Your body itself will start indicating food requirements once it starts to heal. Do not consume oily, refined, spicy and greasy foods as these can exacerbate symptoms of diarrhea and make you feel even worse. Even after you have fully recovered, it is important to give the digestive system some more rest by eating healthily. This can be done by eating fibre, fruits and whole grains in the form of complex carbs. If you are on dietary supplements like vitamins and iron, you will need to temporarily stop taking them, as their absorption will be hindered by the lack of food.
Take Folic Acid
One of the best ways to prevent diarrhea is to take unprocessed bran. Add a teaspoon of this bran to your porridge or oats. It will give you lifelong immunity against gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea. Chew on some garlic pills or raw garlic especially when you are travelling. This will prevent you from developing stomach flu while you are on the move. The garlic works by killing all infectious bacteria and germs that are residing in the stomach.