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BRAT Diet: How Does It Work and 10 Foods That Stop Diarrhea

BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast and is a highly recommended diet for patients undergoing upset stomach issues, diarrhea and vomiting. Consisting of bland, low fiber foods, it helps to regulate the stool in a short period of time.

BRAT diet has been a go to diet for stomach flu since 1926, with variations such as BRATT with tea, and BRATTY with tea and yoghurt. Being bland, simple and easily digestible with little residue, the diet has proven successful in cases of diarrhea and nausea. However, being low in fiber, protein, and fat, the diet is becoming much less prescribed by medical experts due to lack of important nutrients, especially for kids.

BRAT diet plan

In cases of vomiting, diarrhea or nausea, BRET diet plan as suggested by the The Oregon Clinic [1] should follow the steps listed below.

First six hours: It is strongly recommended to avoid any kind of food or liquid in the first couple of hours after the symptoms had started, in order to help your
stomach to recuperate. After that, you should start the healing process gradually, first by sipping water, and taking a hard candy, but avoid chewing.

First 24 hours: (Day One) As it is important to stay hydrated, start drinking clear liquids (such as water, apple juice, flat soda, weak tea, and broth)by taking one to two sips at a time every ten minutes. Make sure to repeat the entire process if the symptoms return.

Day Two: Now you can start to gradually add bananas, rice, applesauce, crackers, and toast.

Day Three: As the diet suggests bland and foods not rich in nutrients, it is important to start including more variety to your diet by day three. You can gradually include soft cooked eggs, sherbet, stewed fruits, cooked vegetables and white meat into your daily meals.

Additionally, it is extremely important to drink plenty of water and to avoid fats, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, raw vegetables and citrus fruits in cases of diarrhea, vomiting or nausea, as these foods and beverages could potentially worsen the condition.

Also, make sure to consult your doctor about the medication you should use, and if the symptoms continue after 24 hours.

BRAT diet benefits

A number of studies have proved the efficiency of BRAT diet foods to regulate stomach problems, being especially efficient in cases of diarrhea.

In a series of studies conducted upon more than 2,900 children with acute diarrhea, the researchers have found that including green bananas in the children’s diet has made the recovery much faster.

[2] [3] [4]

A 2004 study [5] that examined the efficacy of rice-based oral rehydration solutions has found rice to be effective in fighting dehydration caused by diarrhea.

Side effects of BRAT diet

As previously mentioned, BRAT diet has certain limitations which mainly have to do with its lack of important nutrients such as fiber, protein, and fat, making it less appropriate for children as it can lead to malnutrition.

In a research [6] that contrasted the amount of nutrients in a regular diet of two-year-olds with the BRAT diet, the researchers have found that the BRAT diet contains 300 fewer calories, 70% less protein, 80% less fat, and considerably lower levels of vitamins A and B12 and Calcium.

Moreover, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases [7] are no longer in favor of the BRAT diet for children suffering from gastrointestinal problems, but they suggest a well-balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, meat, yogurt, and complex carbohydrates instead.

10 Foods that Heal Diarrhea

Even though efficient in treating diarrhea, BRAT diet suggested foods don’t provide enough nutrients for it to be consumed if the condition continues. Therefore, leading health food experts are suggesting a variety of foods that are both rich in nutrients and have positive effect on treating diarrhea.

1. Bone broth

Rich in nutrients needed for the proper digestion, bone broth is a perfect food for treating diarrhea [8] as it helps to regulate the digestive system.

2. Probiotic foods (yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha)

As the 2011 research [9] suggests, probiotic foods are one of the most efficient agents in fighting diarrhea as they provide the beneficial bacteria needed for the reduction of diarrhea.

3. Oats

Being rich in soluble fiber, oats help regulate loose stool which makes them a beneficial factor in fighting diarrhea. [10]

4. Bananas

Bananas are a number one foods of the BRAT diet due to high levels of potassium, an important nutrient, and due to their ability to be easily digested. As previously mentioned, green bananas are more effective diarrhea cure. [11]

5. Root vegetable juice

Carrot juice is one of the most recommended choices for treating diarrhea as it is rich in nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, potassium, calcium and vitamins A, C, D, E and K. As the 1988 study suggest, carrots juice also prevent dehydration during diarrhea as they “do not diminish intestinal loss of water and electrolytes”. [12]

6. Sweet potatoes

By possessing high levels of various nutrients [13] and being rich in insoluble fiber sweet potatoes are great choice as diarrhea remedy.

7. Flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil is not only one of the richest sources of vegetable-based, vital omega-3 fatty acids but it is also beneficial factor in reducing both diarrhea and constipation. [14]

8. Ginger

Ginger has dual efficiency on diarrhea as it helps to both reduce [15] prevent [16] diarrhea altogether.

9. Water

While it is strongly suggested to always stay properly hydrated, drinking enough water helps reduce the risk of dehydration [17] associated with diarrhea.

10. Peppermint oil

By helping to soothe the digestive system, peppermint oil is another great choice for relieving diarrhea side-effects such as abdominal pain, as studies find. [18]

Finally, as with any type condition, it is always best to consult your doctor for medical advice. However, healthy lifestyle that involves eating healthy and exercising regularly can help avoid many minor and more serious conditions from developing in the first place.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] The Oregon Clinic: Diet for Nausea, Vomiting, or Diarrhea (BRAT diet)
[2] NCBI: Green banana and pectin improve small intestinal permeability and reduce fluid loss in Bangladeshi children with persistent diarrhea.
[3] NCBI: Green banana-supplemented diet in the home management of acute and prolonged diarrhoea in children: a community-based trial in rural Bangladesh.
[4] NCBI: Clinical studies in persistent diarrhea: dietary management with green banana or pectin in Bangladeshi children.
[5] NCBI: Clinical studies in persistent diarrhea: dietary management with green banana or pectin in Bangladeshi children.
[6] PRACTICAL GASTROENTEROLOGY:The BRAT Diet for Acute Diarrhea in Children: Should It Be Used
[7] JPGN:European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition/European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases Evidence-Based Guidelines for the Management of Acute Gastroenteritis in Children in Europe: Executive Summary
[8] DRAXE.COM: Bone Broth Benefits for Digestion, Arthritis and Cellulite
[9] NCBI: Probiotics for prevention and treatment of diarrhea.
[10] NCBI: Noninfectious Diarrhea in HIV Seropositive Individuals: a Review of Prevalence Rates, Etiology, and Management in the Era of Combination Antiretroviral Therapy
[11] NCBIi: Clinical studies in persistent diarrhea: dietary management with green banana or pectin in Bangladeshi children.
[12] NCBI: Current treatment of acute diarrhea in infants
[13] NCBI: Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam)–a valuable medicinal food: a review.
[14] NCBI: Dual effectiveness of Flaxseed in constipation and diarrhea: Possible mechanism.
[15] NCBI:The effect of ginger on serotonin induced hypothermia and diarrhea
[16] NCBI: Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Chapter 7The Amazing and Mighty Ginger
[17] DRAXE.COM: 5 Natural Treatments for Dehydration Symptoms
[18] NCBI: Efficacy of Peppermint oil in diarrhea predominant IBS – a double blind randomized placebo – controlled study.

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About Mysterious Everythings

Le Minh Hieu is a national-level weightlifter and a Singapore Weightlifting sports performance coach. Hieu's biggest passion is helping everyone find confidence, happiness, and health through fitness.