The B.R.A.T. diet – bananas, rice, apples, toast – has been used for decades to treat diarrhea in children. While it is no longer recommended by pediatricians, it can be useful for adults with a mild case of gastroenteritis. The purpose of the restricted diet is two-fold: to stop the intestinal upset and to avoid exacerbating it by irritating your stomach and intestinal tract. Many versions of this diet call for applesauce instead of apples, but raw apples are more effective because of the pectin they contain.
Diarrhea occurs either because of bacteria or a virus, or because the necessary flora in your digestive tract are out of balance. This causes food to move so quickly through your intestinal tract that the fluids can not be absorbed out of it. Symptoms and signs include frequent, loose bowel movements sometimes accompanied by cramping and nausea. Diarrhea is generally no cause for concern, but if left untreated, it can lead to dehydration.
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The bread called for on the B.R.A.T. diet is white bread, not whole-grain, high-fiber bread. White bread is soothing to a sore stomach and the starch in it works as a binding agent without the fiber that would encourage elimination. Toast is usually recommended, but white bread can also be eaten untoasted. Do not add butter, peanut butter or anything else that might exacerbate the problem.
Rice has been used to treat gastrointestinal complaints for centuries. Like white bread, white rice contains binding starches without the whole fiber that encourages elimination. When using rice to treat diarrhea, do not butter it or use any kind of sauce or seasoning. The purpose is to bind and to offer calories and carbohydrates for energy.
No extremely restrictive diet should be followed for more than 24 to 72 hours without consulting a physician. If the diarrhea in question contains blood or does not cease after three to five days, consult your physician.