BRAT Diet: What Is, Benefits, Risks, and Treating Diarrhea

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What is the BRAT Diet?

Eating those foods while sick can relieve the stomach flu signs and other stomach diseases. However, it is significant to note that while those foods tend to be gentle on the gastrointestinal tract, they do not necessarily improve nausea. They deliver a small amount of nutrients to your organism.

BRAT diet stands for:

Bananas – are they good for diarrhea?

They are recommended for people with diarrhea. It is because they are a rich source of potassium. Diarrhea causes increased potassium loss in the body. That is why we need to supplement it through diet. BananaTrusted Source is also a fruit allowed in an easily digestible diet. However, it is better to reach for those that will not be overripe.

Rice – can it help with gastrointestinal problems?

White riceTrusted Source is recommended in the BRAT diet because it has constipating properties and is easily digestible. However, it is not recommended to give people with diarrhea brown rice. Due to the high content of fiber, it can aggravate symptoms.

Is applesauce helpful during stomach-related issues?

AppleTrusted Source is a fruit that is a rich source of pectin. It is a dietary fiber. Apples have a positive effect on alleviating the symptoms of diarrhea. It is because they increase the reabsorption of sodium and water. In the BRAT diet, however, it is not recommended to eat fresh apples but rather applesauce. That is because it is more easily digestible.

Why should you eat toast while having belly problems?

Plain breadTrusted Source is one of the blandest meals you can consume. It is a great source of bland carbs. They are simple to digest. That is why it is good when you have an upset stomach. White bread is preferable because it has a milder taste and less fiber. It will also assist your stools to become firmer. Stay away from butter. Do not use any products with added sugar. Butter has a lot of fat, and jams with sugar might upset your stomach. 

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When should you start the BRAT Diet?

The BRAT dietTrusted Source is used to facilitate recovery from stomach-related illnesses. It is also beneficial in other circumstances, including post-operative settings, where an easily digestible diet is necessary.

However, it is significant to note that the BRAT diet is not recommended for long-term use as it does not provide adequate nutrition for sustained periods and cannot be relied upon for weight loss.

The BRAT diet is planned to stop diarrhea by:

Remember to stay hydrated and add salt to your food during diarrhea. It is necessary to minimize the risk of dehydrationTrusted Source and electrolyte loss. 1.5 liters of water a day is the absolute minimum.

If you are experiencing stomach-related issues, ask your doctor whether the BRAT diet may be an effective treatment option.

BRAT diet – what can not you eat?

The basic principle of this diet is the low fiber content. During diarrhea, ban products that have large amounts. These include, e.g.:

BRAT diet – what can you eat?

Although the name of the diet indicates four products: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, the list of products you can eat is longer. Some other foods are easy to digest. They contain nutrients that support the immune system. They also have anti-inflammatory effects. So what can you eat? 

Carrots, celery, spinach, and ginger contain alkaline minerals (magnesium, potassium, and calcium) and vitamins (A, C, D, E, and K). It helps to nourish the intestines and remove toxins from the body.

Sweet potatoes have strong anti-inflammatory properties. They are a source of potassium and vitamins, e.g., vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. They also have insoluble fiber, thanks to which they help firm the stool and reduce the symptoms of diarrhea.

Flaxseed oil is one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids, helping to keep the body fit while fighting inflammation and boosting the immune system.

Ginger has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.

The way of preparing meals is also significant. Food cooked in water or steamed, stewed, and baked in a sleeve will work best. 

A good solution is also the introduction of probioticsTrusted Source, but remember that they should be high-quality probiotics containing bacterial strains with proven effects. Probiotics, i.e., drugs containing live bacteria similar to those of the physiological flora, can support the treatment of diarrhea.

Probiotics help reconstruct and operate normal bacterial flora – they produce unfavorable substances for pathogenic bacteria, compete in adherence to the intestinal epithelium, and use nutrients necessary to develop harmful microorganisms.

They shorten the course of stomach problems and reduce their severity. You can find them in drugstores and buy the probiotics without a prescription.

What can you eat with diarrhea and food poisoning?

To make rice gruelTrusted Source, you will need two tablespoons of rice and some salt. Begin by rinsing the rice and pouring 3-4 glasses of cold water over it. Cover the pot. Let it cook on low heat for over an hour. Remember to stir occasionally. Once done, strain the gruel through a fine sieve and add some salt to taste. 

To make oatmeal gruelTrusted Source on vegetable broth, you will need half a cup of oat flakes, half a bunch of parsley, a quarter of celery, half a teaspoon of butter, and salt. Start by washing the vegetables. Peel them. Then, cut them into small cubes. Cook them in 2 cups of water, then strain the broth. Next, cook the oat flakes in 4 cups of water. Do it on very low heat, covered, for about an hour. Also, stir occasionally. If necessary, add more water. Strain the gruel and combine it with the vegetable broth. Finally, add butter and salt to taste.

Here’s how to prepare rice gruel with milk and apple. You will need half a glass of rice, half a glass of boiled milk, a small apple, and salt and sugar to taste. Begin by rinsing the rice. Do it before adding 5-6 glasses of water to a pot. Stir and cover the pot. Let the rice cook on low heat for over an hour. Stir the rice several times during cooking. Also, add water if it evaporates too much.

While the rice is cooking, wash the apple, peel it, remove the seeds, and cut it into small pieces. Add the apple to the rice. Do it a few minutes before the end of cooking. Once the rice is cooked, rub it through a sieve. Then add boiled milk, salt, and sugar to taste.

BRAT Diet: What Is, Benefits, Risks, and Treating Diarrhea

BRAT diet – Is it a “golden middle” for GI issues?

The BRAT diet was recommended as a “golden mean” in the nutritional treatment of diarrhea. However, it is now more often emphasized that the effectiveness and safety of such a diet have not been scientifically proven, and its routine introduction is not recommended. 

It is worth including in the diarrhea diet products recommended in the BRAT diet. However, the nutrition of sick people should not be based only on bananas, rice, apple mousse, and toast. 

Firstly, as has already been mentioned, the safety of such nutrition has not been scientifically confirmed. Secondly, by using only five products in the diet, we expose the sick person to a high monotony of nutrition. Therefore, it is worth diversifying the diet to stimulate and not weaken the appetite of sick people who do not have much desire to eat anyway due to the disease.

The basic principle is the low content of dietary fiber in the diet. Therefore, during diarrhea, all products that are a rich source of fiber should be excluded (e.g., whole grain bread, groats, legumes, raw fruits, and vegetables), as well as coffee, tea, vegetable juices, and fruit. Their replacement should be boiled vegetables (e.g., carrots, potatoes), white rice and rice gruel, wheat-based cereal products, and lean meats. 

The technique of meal preparation is also meaningful. Food cooked in water or steamed, stewed, and baked in a sleeve will work best. A good solution is also the introduction of probiotics, but remember that they should be high-quality probiotics containing bacterial strains with proven effects. 

BRAT diet – Is there an alternative?

Since there are some controversies about the BRAT diet and its safety – there is an alternative method. It is called the CRAM diet.

The acronym CRAM is made up of the first four letters of the names of certain nutrients: cereals, rice, apples, and milk. These are the staple foods that the diet is built around, not randomly chosen ingredients.

The BRAT diet is the ancestor of the CRAM diet. Based on the findings of the most recent study, the diet has been updated and enhanced with several new products. As a result, it is now friendlier and simpler to use.

The CRAM diet is not intended for more than three days. Otherwise, such a limited number of nutrients could contribute to adverse changes in the body, especially deficiencies of certain minerals. The products that make up this diet do not provide all the ingredients necessary for the proper functioning of the body in the long term.

However, the components of the CRAM diet themselves have a beneficial effect on human health. Cereals and rice contribute to improving digestive processes and bowel function. On the other hand, apples have a high content of dietary fiber and vitamins. They regulate bowel movements and provide the body with a solid portion of vitamins. Milk positively affects the absorption of proteins.

Remember to drink at least two liters of water a day during the diet. Thanks to the supply of such an amount of fluids, you can get rid of metabolic products more efficiently and significantly reduce swelling under the skin. You will also reduce the amount of toxins in the body. Water will improve digestion and allow for better kidney function regulation, thus more effective removal of excess sugar.

Diarrhea – What are other treatment methods?

The most significant thing in diarrhea treatment is to prevent dehydration – to ensure that the patient is adequately hydrated. You should not hydrate yourself with water alone. It does not contain the necessary mineral salts. Also, do not do it with fruit juices or carbonated drinks. After all, the sugar contained in them can aggravate diarrhea.

In the case of black tea, opinions are divided, and you should check it for yourself. On the one hand, strong tea contains tannins that are constipating, but the caffeine contained in it can be irritating to the digestive tract at this sensitive time for the intestines.

BRAT Diet: What Is, Benefits, Risks, and Treating Diarrhea

When to see a doctor?

In most cases, diarrhea resolves gradually. Following the recommendations, e.g., adequate hydration and a light diet, help to alleviate signs. Also, it can shorten the duration of the ailment.

It is imperative to seek medical advice if diarrhea persists for more than one to two days. Also, do it when there are other symptoms, e.g., high fever, black or bloody feces, or extreme thirst. These symptoms may be indicative of dehydration and require immediate attention.

In young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems, dehydration accompanying diarrhea may be a hospitalization indication.

In the case of traveler’s diarrheaTrusted Source, the symptoms usually resolve spontaneously within 3-5 days and even in 24-36 hours if appropriate treatment is implemented.

What if this does not happen? It may mean that the cause of diarrhea is protozoa. In such a situation, it is necessary to visit a doctor. Then, perform specialist tests (e.g., stool test, sometimes a blood test). It allows the implementation of appropriate antiparasitic treatment.

How to prevent gastrointestinal tract problems?

PreventionTrusted Source of GI track issues consists in:

Moreover, to prevent diarrhea during antibiotic treatment, use them rationally (only when ordered by a doctor, in the dose, and for the time recommended by the doctor) and take probiotics.


November 14, 2023
11 minutes read

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