Most cases of diarrhea resolve within a few days, and simply require rest and intake of extra fluids to prevent dehydration. In some cases, chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome can cause ongoing bouts of diarrhea. Occasionally children end up with a lengthy case of diarrhea after initial irritation by a stomach virus.
When the cause of diarrhea is not determined as dangerous, or requiring medical assistance, home remedies can help reduce and often resolve the problem. The most common recommended home remedy is following the BRAT, or in some cases the BRATTY diet.
BRAT is an acronym, standing for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. BRATTY stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, tea, and yogurt. Most doctors recommend adhering to a diet that contains only these foods, as they help to bulk up the intestines and have a slightly constipating effect.
Many pediatricians now suggest the BRATTY version of the diet to resolve the problem in children, because of the active cultures present in yogurt. These cultures can help restore the natural balance of “good bacteria” after antibiotic use, or when the stomach is depleted by a viral case of diarrhea. Tea for children should be herbal, although decaffeinated green tea is also an excellent choice. In adults, green tea is relatively low in caffeine and has numerous health benefits.
Rice used should be brown rice, rather than white rice. Brown rice has greater dietary fiber content and will help add bulk so that diarrhea lessens. Toast should also be whole wheat when possible, to add fiber. However, nothing like butter or jam should be added as these may worsen the condition.
Applesauce contains pectin, which helps to naturally firm very soft or liquid bowel movements. Apple juice, conversely, contains little pectin, and may cause more frequent diarrhea. Rather than toast and jam, one might appeal to the picky eater by offering toast with an applesauce dip on the side.
The disadvantage to the BRAT diet is that it contains very little protein. The BRATTY diet, on the other hand, is a sustainable diet when yogurt is added. One should avoid yogurts high in sugar, as excess sucrose can increase the problem. One should also check to be certain the yogurt contains active live cultures, as these helpful bacteria can help eliminate stomach problems and make yogurt a digestible milk product for most who are lactose intolerant.
Usually, several days on the BRATTY diet can help restore one to a more normal cycle of bowel movements. Chronic diarrhea in adults may also be helped by daily intake of dietary fiber. Though fiber is often blamed for loose bowel moments, it has an undeserved reputation.
Regular intake of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of fiber can actually help to bulk up bowel movements and reduce diarrhea. Those who have irritable bowel syndrome are particularly encouraged to eat at last the RDA of dietary fiber daily. If unable to consume that much fiber, fiber supplements are readily available to help supplement a healthy diet.