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Diarrhea and the BRAT Diet

author image Diane Marks
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Diarrhea and the BRAT Diet
The "T" in BRAT is for toast. Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

If you find yourself running to the bathroom several times an hour with loose stools and the problem lasts a few days, you have diarrhea. Diarrhea is a sign something is causing irritation in your gastrointestinal tract. Diarrhea is common, but you should see your doctor if it lasts more than a day. Proper diagnosis can hep prevent further complications. The BRAT diet is recommended to help treat diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, according to Central Connecticut University.

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Diarrhea is condition that’s the result of another condition. It is commonly caused by infections, food intolerance, parasites, intestinal diseases, functional bowel disorders or reactions to certain medications, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. The stomach flu is a viral infection that causes excessive diarrhea for one to three days and is treated with rest and diet modification. Food poisoning, another common condition, is caused by ingesting beverages or foods contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites.


The BRAT diet is an acronym that will help you remember which foods you need to eat if you develop diarrhea. The foods you eat while you have diarrhea can help shorten or prolong the condition, according to MedlinePlus. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, apples and toast. Eating these foods, which are easy to digest, can help make the stools firm, preventing further irritation. BRAT is used as long as symptoms persist. Along with eating these foods, you should increase the amount of liquid you’re drinking to prevent dehydration. Once symptoms subside, you can begin to add other foods and beverages under your doctor's supervision.


Certain foods can prolong diarrhea: Avoid milk and dairy products, fried foods, spicy foods, pork, veal, salmon and sardines. Do not eat raw vegetables, citrus fruits or other fruits, such as figs, raisins and cherries. Eliminate caffeinated beverages, extremely hot or cold beverages and alcohol from your diet. Talk with your doctor before adding these back into your diet.


Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, in which your body loses excessive amounts of water and salts. This can create serious compilations. If you develop common dehydration symptoms, such as dry lips, light-headedness or extreme thirst, call your doctor.

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