Upset stomach? Here’s what to eat, and what not to eat
07/04/2019 // Stephanie Diaz // Views

Embarrassing as it may be, everyone gets diarrhea at some point in their lives. In fact, for many people, it is not unusual to get diarrhea once or twice a year. Symptoms of diarrhea, such as uncomfortable bloating, cramping, and loose, watery stool, typically last for two to three days. While recovering from diarrhea, it is vital to choose what you eat carefully. There are certain foods that can aggravate diarrhea and foods that can also improve its symptoms. The list below enumerates what to eat and what not to eat when you have diarrhea.

Foods that help manage the symptoms of diarrhea

To relieve diarrhea as soon as possible, it is better to eat bland or simple foods that are easy to digest. (Related: Relieve diarrhea with this natural medicine.)

  • BRAT diet: BRAT stands for banana, rice, applesauce, and toast. All these foods have properties that can help a person manage diarrhea. Bananas, rice, and applesauce help bind loose and runny stools to make them firmer. Bananas are also a great source of potassium, which prevents dehydration. On the other hand, toast contains carbohydrates that add bulk to stools.
  • Foods rich in probiotics: Probiotics help improve digestion by providing a balance of good and bad bacteria in the stomach and the intestines. Eating foods rich in probiotics also helps replenish good bacteria in the gut and restores gut health. Natural sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, miso, and sauerkraut.
  • Starchy foods: Carbohydrate-rich foods that are low in fiber are easy to digest. The starch in these foods can make stools firmer by acting as a binder. Examples of starchy foods are white bread, pasta, crackers, and potatoes.
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  • Lean meat: It is important to eat a balanced diet when recovering from diarrhea. White chicken meat is an excellent source of protein. Chicken breasts are also exceptionally bland and will not upset the stomach. Keep the preparation for chicken meat simple and try not to add butter or oil. Other types of meat are also acceptable, provided that they are lean.
  • Vegetables: Diarrhea can flush essential micronutrients out of the body, but eating vegetables is a great way of replacing those lost vitamins and minerals. Carrots, green beans, acorn squash, and zucchini are rich sources of essential nutrients that the body needs.

Foods that can aggravate diarrhea

Some foods, while tasty, can be nauseating to eat and potentially make diarrhea worse. Here are some of the foods that you need to avoid when you're suffering from diarrhea.

  • Fatty foods: Eating greasy food can aggravate diarrhea. Oils and fats are difficult to digest and are likely to prevent stools from forming properly. Fatty foods are also known to irritate the digestive tract and worsen symptoms of diarrhea.
  • Dairy products: While probiotics are recommended, other forms of dairy should also be avoided. Most dairy products contain high levels of fat and can irritate the gut. Moreover, diarrhea can induce temporary lactose intolerance due to reduced levels of the enzyme called lactase. Lactase helps the body properly metabolize lactose in dairy foods.
  • Spicy foods: If you have diarrhea, avoid spicy foods and spicy ingredients since they can irritate the digestive tract and aggravate the symptoms of diarrhea.
  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners: Sugar can wreak havoc in the gut and affect the gut microbiota, causing diarrhea to worsen. In addition, some artificial sweeteners have a laxative effect, which is not helpful when you're trying to stop diarrhea.
  • Foods rich in fiber: Fiber is good for the digestive system because it helps stools move faster through the gut. However, this can be a problem when you're already suffering from diarrhea. Insoluble fiber softens stools and makes diarrhea symptoms worse.

Diarrhea can be a pain to deal with, but the food that you eat is crucial in determining whether its discomforting symptoms go away or get worse. Also, when you're recovering from diarrhea, remember to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

For more information about what foods to eat when you're down with an illness, visit

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