Diarrhea is often a symptom of other medical conditions and is relatively common. It is characterized by loose, watery stools and may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, food intolerances, food poisoning, certain medications and other gastrointestinal disorders. Most cases of diarrhea last a couple of days and go away without treatment. After an attack of diarrhea, your diet should focus on replacing fluid and electrolyte losses, avoiding certain foods that can make diarrhea worse and including foods that are easy to digest.
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The best foods to eat after a bout of diarrhea are soft, easily digested, high carbohydrate foods such as bananas. Bananas are rich in fiber, which helps rid your body of disease-causing toxins. They are a bland food, so they are easy on the digestive system. Bananas are also rich in potassium, an electrolyte that is often depleted during bouts of diarrhea. Eat them whole or mashed if desired.
Oats are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps reduce cholesterol, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool. Eating oatmeal soothes your stomach, adds fiber to your diet and helps stop diarrhea. It is calming after an attack of diarrhea. Top with sliced banana for a nutritious meal.
Apples are packed with nutritional benefits, especially after an attack of diarrhea. They are excellent for cleansing your digestive system and detoxifying your body. Rich in fiber, apples have antioxidant power to fight infection and promote optimal health. While apples may be harsh on the stomach, eating applesauce is a great way to ease the stomach and reap all the benefits of apples. Sprinkle some cinnamon in a small cup with applesauce. Avoid drinking apple juice, as it may worsen your diarrhea.
Crackers, Rice and Toast
Gradually add semisolid foods back into your diet as your diarrhea subsides and your bowel movements return to normal. Eating foods such as plain toast, white rice and saltine crackers will provide your body with the energy it needs to recover. Additionally, if you have excess stomach acid, these will help soak it up once digested in the stomach. Eating plain crackers, rice and toast can sooth your stomach and help prevent further bouts of diarrhea.
Broth and Soup
While water is important after diarrhea to prevent dehydration, it does not contain electrolytes. Good choices to help maintain your electrolyte levels include broths or soups that contain sodium. Chicken broth is light, nutritious and gentle on your digestive system. You can buy chicken broth, use bouillon cubes or make your own homemade soup. Any of these will be warm and comforting.
Diarrhea can cause dehydration, the loss of vital fluids and electrolytes. It is important to drink clear liquids, even if it is small sips. Good choices include plain water, soft drinks like ginger ale, sports drinks that contain electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, juices other than apple or pear, broths and soups, gelatin and herbal teas with honey or freshly squeezed lemon. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can make your diarrhea worse.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- MayoClinic.com: Diarrhea; June 26, 2010
- eMedTV; Diarrhea Diet; Arthur Schoenstadt, M.D.; December 19, 2008
- Health Mad; Natural Herbs and Foods to Soother Upset Stomach; BC Doan; March 20, 2008
- Living Healthy Living: Foods for an Upset Stomach; February 15, 2011
- Medline Plus: Diarrhea; David Dugdale, III, M.D.; February 16, 2011
- London Health Science Centre: Diarrhea
- BreastCancer.org: Eating When You Have Diarrhea; March 30, 2009