- The best foods for diarrhea are clear broths and drinks with electrolytes like coconut water.
- You can also follow the BRAT diet for diarrhea, which includes foods like bananas, toast, apple sauce and other easily digestible foods.
- For diarrhea, you should avoid dairy and dairy products, raw vegetables, processed foods and spicy foods.
- This article has are medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and health specialist with a private practice facility in New York City.
- Visit the Insider’s Health Reference library for further advice.
When you have diarrhea, you may pass loose or watery stools more than three times a day. It̵7;s a common problem and in most cases is not an indication of any underlying condition. However, it can be annoying.
There are many foods you can eat to help relieve diarrhea. But on the other hand, consuming certain foods can worsen your diarrhea symptoms. Below is a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid when you have diarrhea, and how they work.
Foods to help treat diarrhea
Bland foods that are easy to digest are the best foods to eat when you have diarrhea. These may include:
The BRAT diet
BRAT stands for bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast, “but can also include foods similar to oatmeal and soup or broth”, Amir Masoud, MBBS, gastroenterologist said by the certification board at Yale Medicine.
The BRAT diet is great for diarrhea because it is made up of foods that are low in fiber, easy to digest and can reduce the amount of undigested food that is moved through your digestive tract. This helps your body make less stool.
Below is a breakdown of each of the foods in the BRAT diet and why they are helpful in the treatment of diarrhea.
- BananaBananas contain a lot of potassium, which is very useful because your body needs to replace nutrients lost after a diarrhea episode.
- Rice: White rice is easy to digest and can help bind your stools, making them more solid when you’re out.
- Apple: Apple sauce is made from cooked, pureed apples. The process of making apple sauce disrupts the cellular structure of the apple, making it easy to digest but still has high nutritional value.
- Toasted bread: Toasted white bread is a great option to help treat diarrhea as it is easy to digest. You may want to avoid whole wheat bread, as it contains more fiber which makes it harder to digest.
The BRAT diet is a helpful guide to some low-fiber foods, but there are others that can help reduce diarrhea. A low-fiber diet contains less than 13 grams of fiber per day. Some other examples of foods you can eat include:
- Crunchy biscuits
- Simple pasta
Clear broth is an easy-to-digest liquid that provides your body with sugar, salt and other important nutrients your body may crave if you can’t eat solid foods. It also has a high water content that can help keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated is especially important because diarrhea lasting more than a day can lead to dehydration.
“Clear broth or light soups are low in fat and protein and this makes them easier to digest – literally, helping your digestive system to rest during illness,” Masoud said.
The transparent broth is completely liquid and unlike other soups, does not contain any solid ingredients like meat and vegetables. You can make your own broth at home or buy a can of broth from a local supermarket. You can also combine clear broth with other low-fiber foods like white bread for a slightly more satisfying meal.
Drinks with electrolytes
During diarrhea, the body loses electrolytes, which are essential minerals the body needs such as sodium, calcium and potassium.
Consuming drinks with electrolytes can help compensate for this loss and prevent dehydration. Here are a few to choose from:
Sports drinks like Gatorade are high in electrolytes but are not a good idea to drink when you have diarrhea because they contain a lot of processed sugar, which can worsen your symptoms.
Foods should be avoided when suffering from diarrhea
Certain foods are more likely to aggravate diarrhea symptoms and irritate your bowels even more. Including:
Milk and dairy products
Milk and dairy products containing lactose are more difficult to digest when you have diarrhea, even if you are lactose intolerant. That’s because when you have diarrhea, your body produces less lactase than usual. Lactase is an enzyme your body needs to properly digest lactose.
When lactose is not digested properly, it can aggravate your diarrhea and cause bloating and nausea.
Spicy foods can further irritate your already sensitive bowels and digestive tract when you have diarrhea. They can also cause a sensation known as diarrhea.
This happens because capsaicin – the active ingredient in most spicy foods – passes quickly through your digestive tract without being properly broken down, causing a burning sensation when you pass the stool.
Processed foods are often high in salt, fat and sugar. Examples include:
- Sugary beverages like soda
“Foods high in sugar or even artificial sweeteners can aggravate diarrhea by” pulling in “water and leading to more diarrhea, Masoud said. This can make your stools even more watery.
Raw vegetables are great for the regular day, but they can be indigestion when you have diarrhea. Vegetables such as broccoli, beans, and cabbage can also cause bloating.
“Not all vegetables should be avoided, but some, such as broccoli, cauliflower and onions, can lead to an increase in intestinal gas formation,” Masoud said. gas and cramping when you have diarrhea.
Diarrhea is a common problem and in most cases nothing to worry about. Your diet plays an important role in how you manage it. Eat low-fiber foods for diarrhea as they are easy to digest and can help reduce the amount of stool your body makes.
On the other hand, spicy foods, dairy products, processed foods and raw vegetables should be avoided until diarrhea is treated. These foods can be difficult to digest and may worsen your diarrhea symptoms.
If you have persistent diarrhea that doesn’t go away after 2 to 4 days, you should see your doctor. You should also see your doctor if you experience severe stomach pain, frequent vomiting, or blood in your stool during diarrhea.