BRAT Diet for IBS and Diarrhea

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IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) is a gastrointestinal disorder which is also known as the spastic colon. It has no general cause and the doctors have not been able to find out why it really occurs. It might be due to the bad food habits. It is widely believed that a stressful lifestyle may be the key factor that triggers IBS.

It is a psychologically accepted fact that when a person is stressed he indulges in binge eating. The stomach being fragile is not able to keep up with this and the person experiences acute pain. Some symptoms of IBS are cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Depending on these symptoms the doctor differentiates between the kinds of IBS. There are three types IBS-D, IBS-C and IBS-A.

IBS cannot be called a disease as it does not really affect the body. It however has psychological effects and the person might get depressed. Everlasting sensation of pain and inflammation can be quite irritating and the person’s social life might get affected.
During this time the doctor generally prescribes a bland food diet to give the stomach some time to heal.

BRAT diet is one of the best bland food diets that can be recommended for IBS-D. BRAT diet consists of foods that are low in fiber and can help in making the stool firmer. This can be really advantageous as it can cure diarrhea which is one of the symptoms of IBS.

BRAT Diet for IBS and Diarrhea

The primary components of the BRAT diet are:

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

BRAT DIET FOR DIARRHEA

Bananas are known to be rich in potassium and hence they replace the nutrients lost due to diarrhea. Applesauce (without much sugar) contains pectin in large amounts, which is a natural thickening agent. It makes the stool firmer and reduces the bowel movement.

Diarrhea weakens the stomach and the digestion is adversely affected. In this kind of a situation one needs to consume food that is light for the stomach and also easy to digest. Rice and toast are just the best choice during this sickness. Along with being gentle to the stomach they also possess binding properties which will lead to a less number of trips to the ‘washroom’. BRAT diet foods are really kind to the stomach and give it time to heal.

One cannot directly resort to a BRAT foods diet when diarrhea strikes. The BRAT diet is generally a follow up to a number of liquids like broth, water and juices. The body should be kept well hydrated as it will prevent fatigue and keep one fresh. Diarrhea causes the loss of a lot of salts from the body and BRAT diet cannot make up for most of them.

To overcome this shortage additional supplements of electrolytes are recommended. When the symptoms become less then one should not jump to fatty or sugary foods. A strict and simple balanced diet should be consumed.

BRAT DIET FOR IBS

Though, this diet has a lot of advantages, it cannot be followed for a long period of time. It lacks the nutrients that are essential for the body and may result in malnutrition. BRAT diet should be followed over a period of 48 hours. Also, BRAT diet cannot be taken in a case of severe IBS. One should take in clear liquids if such is the case. If the body is able to digest these fluids then one should resort to the BRAT diet.
BRAT diet however cannot be taken during IBS-C. IBS-C is the case of IBS with constipation. BRAT diet as we know is low on fiber and can trigger constipation even to another level. One should be clear about the symptoms of IBS and then resort to any kind of diet.

IBS-C requires a fiber rich diet so that the stool can loosen up. Day by day the fiber in the diet should be increased so that one can combat constipation.

The diet prescribed for IBS-C comprises:

  • Whole grains
  • Cereals
  • Beans
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

If you have the symptoms of IBS-A then you might have to balance the fibers as the symptoms will vary with time. You might find your stool getting extremely firm and then again loose.

It is highly recommended that one should consult a doctor before resorting to any kind of a diet. This will prevent you from taking in any allergens. Some people might have to stay gluten free while others might be allergic to any other components. The diet does not suit everyone and might not work for everybody.

IBS doesn’t really have a cure. One can only reduce the symptoms by following certain diets. The stomach should be given some rest and the gut should be able to relax.

In some extreme cases psychiatric help is required as the person is not able to cope up with the pressure. The ‘pep’ talk actually works wonders as the person starts to accept the way he is.

About Dr. Arslan Malik

Dr. Arslan Malik
Arslan Malik is noted health blogger, public health activist, aspiring dreamer and avid reader. With doctor in pharmacy, he has worked closely with various health organizations, multinational pharmaceuticals and community health programs. Beside his professional practice, he has an avid interest in writing and teaching Physiology and Medicines. He covers variety of topics from Nutrition and Natural Care to Diseases, Treatments, Drug Interactions, Preventive Care and Clinical Research.

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