American adults experience on average one episode of acute diarrhea every year, according to The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Diarrhea, described as loose, watery stools, is a common health complaint that affects people of all ages, including seniors. Some seniors may develop chronic diarrhea, or diarrhea lasting four weeks or more, which may be indicative of chronic disease. To improve your understanding of the role of diet and nutrition in treating your diarrhea, speak with your family physician.
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Risks Associated With Diarrhea
Diarrhea involves the rapid loss of fluid from your body, as foods and liquids you ingest are not absorbed by your colon. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, children and elderly individuals who have diarrhea are at increased risk of dehydration. A senior who has chronic diarrhea may experience a significant reduction in her quality of life, feel embarrassment about her health problem and suffer poor self-esteem. In most cases, however, both acute and chronic diarrhea are treatable health problems.
A Helpful Diet
Certain dietary strategies may be helpful in treating diarrhea in elderly patients. Naturopathic physicians Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno, co-authors of "Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine," recommend several dietary measures that may be used as general support in treating your diarrhea, including avoiding consumption of solid foods and dairy products, replenishing water and electrolytes, using carob or pectin and reintroducing Lactobacillus acidophilus. Other beneficial foods or beverages in treating your diarrhea may include liquid gelatin, clear broth, weak tea with honey, carrot juice, cooked potatoes, bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.
A Beneficial Food
Applesauce may be a beneficial food in treating your diarrhea. Applesauce is an easily digestible food that contains significant amounts of dietary fiber, including pectin. According to BreastCancer.org, pectin is a water-soluble fiber that helps resolve your diarrhea. Applesauce also contains significant amounts of vitamin C. Apples that are heavy and firm, and that display a vibrant color, are optimal for making applesauce.
Points to Consider
Diarrhea, if not treated in a timely and appropriate manner, may lead to serious health complications in elderly individuals. Because diarrhea may lead to dehydration, consider consuming at least six, eight-ounce glasses of water per day to help combat fluid loss. In most cases, a combination of alternative and conventional treatment methods may be most helpful in treating your diarrhea. Before using diet and nutrition to help treat your diarrhea, discuss all diet-related topics with your doctor, including the most effective foods for this health purpose, risks and potential side effects. A larger body of scientific research evidence may be needed to evaluate the true health benefits of foods traditionally used in treating diarrhea.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Diarrhea
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Diarrhea
- Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine; Michael Murray, N.D., and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D.
- BreastCancer.org: Eating When You Have Diarrhea