10 Foods That Help Diarrhea

By jolene
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Diarrhea occurs when one experiences three or more bowel movements that are watery, liquid, or loose daily. Diarrhea usually lasts several days resulting in dehydration due to loss of fluid. Some signs of dehydration include decreased urination, irritability, loss of skin turgor, tachycardia, pallor, and decreased responsiveness.

The commonest cause of diarrhea is often due to an infection (gastroenteritis) in the intestines from a viral, parasitic, or bacterial infection. The infection is most commonly acquired from food and water that has been contaminated by feces. It can also be acquired by another person who has been infected. Noninfectious causes of diarrhea include ulcerative colitis, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, hyperthyroidism, and irritable bowel syndrome. Prevention of diarrhea generally involves improved sanitation, handwashing, clean drinking water, and vaccination against rotavirus. Treatment of diarrhea may include options such as oral rehydration solution, zinc tablets, antibiotics, and loperamide.

Every year, the estimated number of diarrhea cases range from 1.7 to 5 billion with the majority in developing countries. It has been estimated that 1.26 million deaths occurred due to diarrhea in 2013. In 2012, it was reported to be the second commonest cause of death among children younger than 5 years old. Chronic diarrhea can result in poor intellectual development and stunted growth. Despite diarrhea, it is recommended that the affected individual continues to eat as it helps speed up the recovery of intestinal function. Here are some of the foods that can help diarrhea.

Helpful Diarrhea Food #1: White Bread

White bread is bread made from wheat flour where the germ and bran layers have been removed resulting in a bread that is lighter in color. Although this process increases the shelf life, it also removes nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, dietary fiber, essential fatty acids, and other micronutrients.

White bread can be good for individuals with diarrhea as it contains very little fiber making it easy to digest. It is important to note that whole grain high-fiber bread should be avoided. The starch in white bread also works as a binding agent. It is best eaten plain.


Helpful Diarrhea Food #2: Potatoes

Potatoes are starchy vegetables that are available globally. They are considered to be a staple food in many parts of the world. In 2014, it was reported as the fourth largest food crop after rice, wheat, and maize. Potatoes consist of water, carbohydrates, proteins, and negligible amounts of fat. They are also a rich source of vitamin C and vitamin B6. Potatoes are a comfort food while also being high in potassium.

Potatoes can be good for those experiencing diarrhea as long as the skin is peeled. The potatoes can be steamed, boiled, or microwaved. To improve the flavor, salt can be added. However, it is best to avoid excessive butter, sour cream, margarine, or gravy as oil and fat can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in increased cramping.

Helpful Diarrhea Food #3: Yogurt

Yogurt is a food produced through the bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria ferments lactose to produce lactic acid, which acts on milk proteins to give yogurt its characteristic tart flavor and texture. Yogurt uses bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium. Yogurt contains protein, water, fat, carbohydrates, and sugars. It is a rich source of vitamin B12 and riboflavin with moderate amounts of selenium and phosphorus.

During diarrhea, it is generally best to avoid any dairy products. However, yogurt is considered to be an exception as it contains healthy bacteria that can help restore the gut flora. Look for yogurt that has active or live bacterial cultures, a low sugar level, and no artificial sweeteners.


Helpful Diarrhea Food #4: Vegetables

Vegetables are always a healthy option as they provide important nutrients. However, to make vegetables more suitable for those with diarrhea, it is best to peel the skin, remove the seeds (if any), and cook them to ensure that they are easily digested. Some good choices of vegetables for those with diarrhea are green beans, beets, carrots, peeled zucchini, and acorn squash.

When preparing the vegetables, avoid using too much oil or butter. It is best to cook them by steaming, boiling, or microwaving. Vegetables that are hard to digest, or likely to cause gas such as cauliflower, broccoli, peas, peppers, and corn, should be avoided.

Helpful Diarrhea Food #5: Chicken Broth

Broth is a liquid made from simmered meat, vegetables, or bones. It can be consumed on its own or used as a base for other dishes such as sauces, soups, and gravies. Chicken broth is a popular option for those who are ill. Those with diarrhea can sip on chicken broth as it can help restore electrolytes, fluids, and nutrients. It is also soothing and can help settle an upset stomach.

A great option would be making chicken soup using the broth by adding noodles and chicken meat into the broth. Avoid the addition of oils and vegetables that are likely to cause gas.


Helpful Diarrhea Food #6: Chicken Meat

Chicken is the commonest type of poultry raised for consumption purposes. It can be prepared in many ways such as boiling, barbecuing, baking, grilling, and frying. It is often considered to be a healthier option compared to red meat due to lower concentrations of saturated fat and cholesterol.

Because of its bland nature, chicken meat is a suitable protein source for those with diarrhea. It is also easily digested. Preparation of the chicken matters most as addition of butter and oils during cooking can irritate the gut. It is best prepared baked, broiled, or steamed. To prevent it from drying out, it can be basted regularly with water or chicken broth.

Helpful Diarrhea Food #7: Bananas

A banana is a fruit that can be eaten raw or cooked. The rind of the fruit can be green, yellow, purple, red, or brown. Without the peel, raw bananas contain water, carbohydrates, protein, and negligible fat content. They also contain manganese, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. Bananas are notoriously famous for being rich in potassium. However, they actually only constitute about 8 percent of the recommended Daily Value.

Bananas can be helpful for individuals with diarrhea as they are easily digested and bland. This makes them a good choice to help settle the digestive system. They are also rich in pectin, which is a soluble fiber that helps absorb liquid in the gut and moves stool. Bananas can regulate bowel movements regardless of constipation or diarrhea.


Helpful Diarrhea Food #8: Farina

Farina is a type of milled wheat made from the endosperm and germ of the grain. It is often prepared like porridge or hot cereal. It is a carbohydrate-rich food and one of the best sources of dietary iron if enriched.

To improve its taste, other ingredients such as honey, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate, butter, salt, and jams can be added. However, for those with diarrhea, it is best eaten plain as the added ingredients may aggravate the intestines. Farina eaten plain can soothe the gut and become a binding substance that helps the stool become firmer.

Helpful Diarrhea Food #9: Pancakes

A pancake is a flat cake that is generally thin and round. Pancakes are recognized as one of the earliest cereal food eaten in prehistoric societies. Today, pancakes are made from a starch-based batter containing milk, butter, and eggs.

To be helpful for diarrhea, the pancakes should be made using cornbread or white flour. Avoid adding too much syrup, honey, or milk. It is important to avoid components that may aggravate the intestinal lining. A plain pancake can help settle the gut while binding to the stool to help increase firmness.

Helpful Diarrhea Food #10: White Rice

White rice is rice that has its germ, husk, and bran removed to alter the texture, appearance, and flavor of the rice as it increases its shelf life. The rice is then polished leading to a seed that appears white, bright, and shiny. These processes remove nutrients from the rice. When a diet is based on unenriched white rice, it often results in beriberi, a disease due to thiamine deficiency. For this reason, white rice is often enriched with nutrients that have been stripped from it during the process.

White rice can be helpful for those with diarrhea as it is high in carbohydrates and easily digested. It is also binding and can help firm the loose or watery stool. For more flavor, the rice can be cooked in chicken broth.


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