Poop isn't typically the most comfortable thing to talk about, but the reality is, most people (read: nearly everyone) will experience diarrhea at some point in their lives. There are an estimated 179 million cases of acute diarrhea per year, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
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The good news is the most common type, acute diarrhea, typically resolves itself in one to two days. Acute diarrhea is usually caused by bacteria from food or water, a virus like the flu, parasites, certain medications and food intolerances.
If you experience a bout of acute diarrhea, it may feel like you're not able to keep anything in. Staying hydrated is important and eating foods as tolerated can also help you recover. So where do you start when it comes to figuring out what to eat?
As your bowel movements start to return to normal, focus on gradually adding back semi-solid, low-fiber foods such as eggs, which are a good pick, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Persistent diarrhea (lasting two to four weeks) and chronic diarrhea (lasting longer than four weeks) may be an indication of a more serious issue like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease and you should consult with your doctor.
Are Eggs Good for Diarrhea?
When you think about the best foods for diarrhea, eggs don't typically come to mind, but they can actually help in some cases.
When you have diarrhea, your body loses a lot of water and electrolytes, so it's important to first pay attention to your hydration needs and replace those lost fluids and electrolytes, Nicole Arcilla, RDN and owner of Your Gut Feeling, tells us. As you're recovering, it's also important to get enough nutrients from food sources that are easy to digest.
So where do eggs come in? "High-quality lean proteins such as eggs are a great option since they are one of the proteins that are more tolerable," Arcilla says. The protein in eggs can also help you avoid fatigue associated with diarrhea, according to Breastcancer.org.
"However, it's important to pay attention to how the eggs are being prepared. Something like a cheesy omelet should be avoided, and it would be a good idea to watch out for hot sauce and other condiments, too."
Arcilla recommends sticking to hard-boiled, soft-boiled or scrambled eggs. “The idea is to stick to simple dishes without too many complex flavors while also avoiding foods with dairy and high fat and sugar contents, which could further irritate your gut.”
What About Eggs and IBS?
Eggs may be helpful if you have IBS-D or irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea. They can help to bind you up and they're low in fermentable carbohydrates, which can aggravate symptoms in some people, the Cleveland Clinic explains.
You'll want to tread lightly, however, if you live with IBS-C or irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. Eggs can actually worsen your constipation and associated symptoms.
"Discovering which foods work best for you can be tricky but can be made easier when working with a registered dietitian who knows how to help you properly identify appropriate foods that support your own individual needs," Arcilla says.
Remember, you should see a doctor if you have diarrhea for more than two days without relief or you show signs of dehydration (aka you're thirsty, weak, dizzy or feel faint).