Diarrhea is an extremely unpleasant and sometimes embarrassing condition. Medically, diarrhea is defined as frequent loose or watery stools more than three times per day.
Diarrhea can happen as a result of a broad range of viral or bacterial infections, alternatively antibiotic usage or sometimes food intolerances.
Whatever the reason for diarrhea, it can be dangerous and even life-threatening for the elderly, babies and young children. Dehydration can occur very quickly as a result of diarrhea so it is, therefore, best to see medical help for these vulnerable populations.
If you are experiencing mild diarrhea and need help in managing the condition try these home remedies.
1) Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, milk, soda, legumes and cruciferous vegetables
For starters, when you are trying to manage a bout of diarrhea it is best to avoid certain foods and drinks. Temporarily cut out caffeinated beverages such as coffees, teas, and colas as they may worsen symptoms.
Milk may be poorly tolerated due to temporary lactose intolerance and this could cause extra bloating and gas, so milk and other dairy products should be avoided.
As mentioned in Livestrong, gas-causing vegetables such as legumes (chickpeas and beans) and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli) should also not be consumed as eating these during a bout of diarrhea can worsen abdominal discomfort.
2) Fluids and more Fluids.
One of the biggest dangers and side effects of diarrhea is dehydration. As soon as diarrhea hits it is best to get going on replenishing those lost fluids as quickly as possible.
As we’ve mentioned in the last point, not all liquids are appropriate so here are some guidelines:
Stick to clear liquids
This means steering clear of milk and fruit juices. Stick to clear drinks such as a broth or a rehydration formula bought from a pharmacy.
Go for sports drinks
Sports drinks are formulated with just the right amount of electrolytes to ensure that hydration is optimal.
Make your own ‘rehydration solution’
If you are stuck without any of the above-mentioned solutions it is easy to make your own rehydration solution:
- I liter of drinking water
- 1/2 level tsp of water
- 6 level tsp of sugar
Stir the salt and sugar into the liquid until well dissolved. Sip the mixture slowly throughout the day to ensure adequate rehydration
3) The BRAT Diet
It may sound strange, but the BRAT diet is an acronym for bland foods that are the best to eat during an issue with your digestive system.
BRAT stands for:
Bananas: Bananas are rich in a compound called pectin, which helps bind the contents of our digestive system by slowing the passage of the food and soaking up excess fluids. In a study in the Journal of Nutritional Clinical Practice, researchers found that banana flakes in tube fed patients helped to drastically reduce the duration of their diarrheal infection.
When it comes to choosing your bananas aim for those that are as unripe as possible as these are most effective
Rice: Bland and soothing for the gut, causing no bad reaction.
Applesauce: Just like bananas, contain pectin and therefore help to bind the stomach.
Toast: Bland and contains fiber which helps to bind the stomach.
Keep in mind that the BRAT diet is only meant for temporary bouts of diarrhea (2-3 days), as nutritionally the diet is extremely low in nutrients and important macronutrients like protein and fat.
4) Supplement with Probiotics
Supplementing our bodies with a good quality probiotic, especially during times of digestive issues can make a huge difference in terms of recovery time and resilience when it comes to future infections.
In fact a 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that by supplementing with probiotics the symptoms and severity of diarrhea could be greatly reduced.
Specific strains of probiotics such as Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus GG were found to be most effective.
5) Eat Bulgarian/Greek Yoghurt
I know this one may be confusing as we’ve already recommended staying away from dairy products, yogurt is however slightly different.
As mentioned in the Journal of nutrition, the live cultures or bacteria in unprocessed plain Greek or Bulgarian yogurt actually takes care of the lactose in the yogurt by partially digesting it. Not only do our digestive systems tolerate yogurt very well but it is also a great way to replenish gut friendly bacteria like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium.
Think of yogurt as a way to naturally introduce probiotics into our systems.
6) A Cup of Tea
A few different types of herbal tea can help with managing the symptoms and severity of your diarrhea:
The chamomile plant has antispasmodic properties that help to lessen abdominal cramping and pain as a result of a diarrheal infection. An added bonus is that chamomile tea helps to hydrate you as you drink it.
Blackberries or the dried leaves of the blackberry plant are useful in reducing intestinal inflammation as they contain high concentrations of tannins. During a diarrheal episode drinking the tea a few times per day helps to hydrate and lessen symptoms of diarrhea,