Diarrhea is loose or watery stools that happen more frequently than is normal for you (usually more than three times a day). It can be distressing and unpleasant, ruin your vacation, or other special events.
It affects most people from time to time and is typically nothing to worry about. Usually, it clears up in two or three days without any complications. Some remedies and dieting tips can help to speed up your recovery.
What is diarrhea
Diarrhea can be either acute or chronic.
Acute diarrhea is loose, watery stools lasting one to two days. Diarrhea can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection or by food poisoning. Acute diarrhea is a common condition, with over 179 million cases in the United States annually.
One specific type of acute diarrhea is traveler’s diarrhea, which occurs after coming into contact with bacteria or parasites while traveling abroad.
Chronic diarrhea is defined as diarrhea that lasts for at least four weeks. It is usually the result of an intestinal disease or disorder, such as celiac disease or Crohn‘s disease.
There are many possible causes of diarrhea. The most common are:
- food intolerance, for example, lactose intolerance;
- food allergy;
- adverse drug reaction;
- viral infection (for example, rotavirus infection is the most common cause of severe, watery diarrhea and vomiting in infants and young children);
- bacterial infection;
- intestinal illness;
- parasitic infection;
- surgery on the gallbladder or stomach;
- irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.
for your health and
balanced meal plan
As Hippocrates said, you are what you eat. The meaning of this phrase concerns every person, who takes care of his health. The food we eat has a big impact on our vital activity, state of health and quality of life.
Nowadays healthy diet is very popular and everyone knows that he should give up junk food. But not everyone knows what he must eat except for grain, vegetables and protein food.
It's essential to diversify your diet. Every bite of food should provide you with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are necessary for good health.
So how can we have a proper nutrition plan?
We prepared a PDF-file to help you. It contains TOP-10 ingredients, which should be added to everyone's diet.
The following symptoms are frequently associated with diarrhea:
- abdominal pain;
- bloody stools;
- frequent urges to empty the bowels.
How to recognize severe diarrhea
In many cases, diarrhea can be treated at home with over-the-counter remedies, rest, and a temporarily restricted diet. However, there are some cases when you should consult a doctor:
- Your diarrhea lasts for more than two days without improvement;
- You have bloody stools, severe abdominal pain, or a fever of 102 °F (39 °C) or higher;
- You have the following symptoms of dehydration:
- dry mucous membranes;
- increased pulse rate;
- increased thirst;
- decreased urination;
- dry mouth.
Diarrhea is a serious illness for young children. It can cause severe dehydration in an infant in one day and be fatal.
Consult a specialist immediately if any of the following conditions apply to your baby:
- diarrhea for 24 hours or more;
- the temperature of 39°C or higher;
- blood stools;
- pus in the stools.
Nutritional tips for controlling diarrhea
- During the first 6 hours after illness, it is better not to eat at all: let your bowel rest and repair itself. Don’t eat until the vomiting and diarrhea have stopped completely.
- Remember to drink water; you need to replenish the loss of water and electrolytes.
- Add more water, apple juice, and vegetable or chicken broth to your diet during the day after the diarrhea.
- If symptoms return, stop drinking clear liquids and wait a couple of hours before trying again.
- On the second day, start the BRAT diet. It is recommended to stay on this diet only for a short time. BRAT stands for “bananas, rice, apples, toast”. These foods are soft and low in fiber and shouldn’t irritate the stomach.
- On the third day, you can start to return to everyday foods in your diet if you feel better.
Start with eggs, boiled vegetables, chicken, or turkey.
It is important to watch your body’s signals. If you overeat or mix different foods too quickly, your symptoms may return.
Foods to avoid if you have diarrhea
These foods can trigger the digestive system and worsen or prolong diarrhea:
- milk and dairy products (including milk-based protein drinks);
- fried foods;
- fatty foods;
- spicy foods;
- raw vegetables;
- berries with seeds;
- coffee and caffeinated drinks;
- carbonated drinks;
- artificial sweeteners, including sorbitol.
Diarrhea nutrition tips population groups
Tips for pregnant women
Diarrhea is more common in the third trimester. Usually, diarrhea goes away without any treatment. We recommend seeing a doctor if the diarrhea does not disappear after two days.
Do not take over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications without consulting your doctor. These medicines can worsen certain conditions. They can also be dangerous during pregnancy.
Tips for babies and children
If a baby can eat solid food, give them the following:
Avoid the following foods, as they can make diarrhea worse:
- apple juice and other fruit juices;
- fried foods;
- spicy foods.
Tips for 50+
- include enough nutrients containing plenty of potassium, calcium, and iron;
- the total calorie content should not exceed 1800-2000 kcal a day;
- drink plenty of water and herbal teas;
- avoid spicy food and salt;
- add carrots, zucchini, pumpkins, potatoes, and low-fat meats such as rabbit, turkey, and chicken to your diet.
Advice on different types of diarrheas
The main symptom of chronic diarrhea is liquid or watery stools that persist for several weeks. You may also have other symptoms:
- abdominal cramps;
It is recommended to keep a food diary to determine if the diet is a significant factor in chronic diarrhea. List the details of your meals and snacks and note any worsening.
After a few weeks, you will be able to identify possible foods that cause a problem. Eliminate these foods from your diet to see if your symptoms improve.
For example, diarrhea may stop or significantly improve after you stop eating gluten, artificial sweeteners, or dairy products, or your condition may improve after you eliminate certain vegetables, fruits, or beans.
Some lifestyle changes can help relieve chronic diarrhea:
- avoid caffeine and alcoholic drinks;
- add low-fiber foods;
- drink water to prevent dehydration;
- control food portions to avoid overeating;
- drink filtered water;
- wash hands after cooking and before eating;
- clean kitchen surfaces to prevent contamination;
- wash fruit and vegetables before eating them;
- wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
Diarrhea with vomiting
Tips for managing vomiting and diarrhea:
- drink plenty of clear liquids, such as water or broth;
- follow the BRAT diet;
- avoid fatty, spicy, or sugary foods, dairy products, and caffeine;
- wash hands often with soap.
Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting may require treatment.
Take your child to the doctor if:
- a child is less than 12 months old and shows signs of dehydration;
- diarrhea lasts for more than seven days or vomiting for more than two days;
- a child is under 3 months of age with a temperature of 38°C;
- a child is 3 to 6 months of age with a fever of 39°C.
Take your child to the emergency department if:
- there are signs of dehydration after taking an oral rehydration solution;
- there is blood in the urine or stools;
- green or yellow vomiting.
For adults, See a doctor if:
- you are still dehydrated after rehydration with fluids and oral hydration solution;
- you have bloody diarrhea or rectal bleeding;
- your vomit is yellow or green;
- you have diarrhea that has lasted more than seven days, or you have been vomiting for more than two days.
All types of antibiotics can cause diarrhea. However, some antibiotics, such as penicillin and cephalosporins, are a known cause of diarrhea.
Antibiotic-associated diarrhea is defined as liquid, watery stools more than three times a day after taking medications used to treat bacterial infections.
There are some nutritional tips on how to ease symptoms of antibiotic-associated diarrhea:
- eat low-fiber foods
Eating high-fiber foods when you have diarrhea can make your condition worse.
- potassium replacement
This nutrient can be lost through diarrhea, but potassium-rich foods can help replenish it. Some potassium-rich foods are bananas, avocados, and potatoes.
- replacing lost fluids and salts
Diarrhea can cause a more rapid loss of fluids and electrolytes, so replenishment is essential.
- include the following foods and drinks on your menu:
- fluids, including water or decaffeinated tea;
- fruit, such as bananas, mashed apples, or small amounts of canned fruit without syrup;
- grains, such as white rice, white bread, and noodles;
- peeled potatoes, boiled or baked;
- protein sources such as poultry, lean meat, and fish.
Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea:
- take probiotics
Probiotics can help to put beneficial bacteria back into your digestive system.
- follow good hygiene practices
Frequent hand washing, especially after using the toilet, can help prevent the spread of C. diff bacteria.
- follow the instructions
Some antibiotics should be taken with food to avoid nausea or diarrhea.
- do not take antibiotics without a prescription.
TOP Anti-Diarrheal Products
Historically, chamomile has been used for a variety of intestinal disorders.
An animal study shows that chamomile extracts relieve diarrhea in mice by reducing intestinal cramps and the amount of water excreted in stools. Still, more research is needed to see if the same applies to humans.
Antidiarrhoeal, antisecretory and antispasmodic activities of Matricaria chamomilla are mediated predominantly through K(+)-channels activation
Research shows that peppermint can help reduce unpleasant symptoms associated with diarrhea:
Taking peppermint oil capsules daily for at least two weeks can significantly reduce stomach pain, gas, and diarrhea in adults with IBS.
Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis
The b anti-diarrheal effect of green bananas is due to them containing a particular type of fiber known as resistant starch.
Humans cannot digest resistant starch, so it passes through the digestive tract to the colon, the last part of the intestine.
In the colon, it is slowly fermented by intestinal bacteria to form short-chain fatty acids, which stimulate the intestines to absorb more water and strengthen stools.
Humans do not digest pectin and it remains in the intestinal tract where it effectively strengthens stools and prevents diarrhea.
One study showed that 82% of children who took pectin supplements daily recovered from diarrhea within 4 days.
Clinical studies in persistent diarrhea: dietary management with green banana or pectin in Bangladeshi children
Foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics
Feeding your gut with beneficial probiotic bacteria can aid faster recovery.
Lactobacillus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii strains are recommended for diarrhea.
A 2015 study showed that both strains could help reduce the duration of illness by 1 day on average.
Probiotics for Prevention and Treatment of Diarrhea
You can buy probiotics in capsules or liquid forms.
Probiotics are also found in fermented foods such as yogurt, miso, natto, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi.
Prebiotic-rich fiber can also be beneficial as prebiotics help feed intestinal bacteria.
These fibers can be found in the following:
- chicory root;
In summary, diarrhea is a common and potentially serious condition, and proper management of its complications, like dehydration and inflammation, is vital to ensure a quick recovery for you and your loved ones.
- Antidiarrhoeal, antisecretory and antispasmodic activities of Matricaria chamomilla are mediated predominantly through K(+)-channels activation
- Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Clinical studies in persistent diarrhea: dietary management with green banana or pectin in Bangladeshi children
- Probiotics for Prevention and Treatment of Diarrhea