Brown Rice for Diarrhea

Everyone experiences diarrhea at some point, and no one likes to talk about it. A passing case of loose stool can often be treated at home with over-the-counter medications, and a temporary change in your diet can also be useful. Rice is one of the foods often recommended to help treat diarrhea. Although brown rice is a healthy dietary staple and generally more nutritious than white rice, it may not be your best bet when battling your bowels.

A bowl of cooked white rice sits on a Japanese bamboo placemat. (Image: KOJI ISHIZAKI/amana images/Getty Images)

Why Rice?

Rice is a starchy food and, in the digestive tract, it absorbs water, which can help to make stools firmer. Rice is also a rich source of one type of dietary fiber -- called soluble fiber -- that can effectively thicken your stool. As a bland food, rice will prevent further irritation to your digestive tract. Just be sure to eat it plain, without high-fat or spicy additions, which can aggravate diarrhea.

White or Brown?

Brown rice is unrefined, meaning it hasn't been overly processed and stripped of its fiber and other nutrients, as white rice has been. In addition to fiber, it's a rich source of B vitamins, and it digests more slowly than white rice, providing a lasting source of energy. When your digestive system is acting up, however, the low fiber content of white rice is a benefit. Your body doesn't have to work as hard to digest white rice, which prevents putting more stress on an already compromised system.

Be a B.R.A.T.

Consisting of bland, easy-to-digest foods, the B.R.A.T. diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, is often recommended for people suffering from digestive ailments, including diarrhea. These are low-fiber, binding foods, that help firm stools. According to FamilyDoctor.org, the diet also supplies important nutrients like potassium -- from the bananas -- that are depleted during bouts of diarrhea. When following the B.R.A.T. diet, choose white rice, applesauce without the skins and refined-grain toast to avoid consuming too much fiber.

Ways to Include Rice in Your Diarrhea Diet

You could simply eat a bowl of plain, white rice, but there are other ways you can prepare the food to avoid the boredom of eating the same food in the same way until your diarrhea subsides. You can eat rice noodles, as long as they don't have any other ingredients added during processing, and you can also puree boiled white rice and eat it as a gruel. Mash up a banana and mix it in with the gruel, or stir in a couple spoonfuls of smooth applesauce to add sweetness.

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