The BRAT diet stands for Banana, Rice, Applesauce and Toast, which is often prescribed during acute diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Diarrhea
can be caused due to bacterial infection or a food allergy. Acute diarrhea lasts for a week and makes a person weak. Early nutrition intervention is important to avoid nutrient depletion, persistent diarrhea and death. Various dietary practices are used to treat diarrhea. BRAT diet is a combination of bland and low dietary fiber food used as a short-term dietary management for acute diarrhea. It provides energy but also allows the digestive system to rest and recover without much strain.
A person with diarrhea and vomiting
finds it difficult to eat and drink. Fluid intake is important to prevent dehydration
due to vomiting and diarrhea. Clear liquids, sugars, and electrolytes (salts) are recommended to replenish the depleted nutrients. Milk-based drinks, caffeine, fizzy drinks and fruit juices that are high in sugar should be avoided. Foods that are high in fats and proteins should also be avoided as they are harder to digest. The BRAT diet includes binding foods that are low in fiber that make the stools firmer. It also prevents the over-stimulation of the bowel and slows down the frequency of bowel movements.
BRAT (Banana, Rice, Applesauce and Toast) Banana
Bananas contain resistant starch that slows down diarrhea by reducing gastric symptoms and decreasing the volume of stools. Bananas
are good sources of potassium, one of the salts that are lost during diarrhea and vomiting. Eating bananas can replenish the potassium stores in the body. Bananas also contain inulin, which is a soluble fiber. Inulin acts as a prebiotic that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Cooked green banana (plantain) is more effective to treat diarrhea compared to other types of bananas.Rice
Rice is easily digestible but keeps the blood sugar levels high. It is advised to take Basmati rice as it has a low glycemic score and does not spike the blood sugar levels. Rice has an anti-secretary effect that stops diarrhea. Basmati rice cooked in clear broth is a good choice for an upset stomach. Brown rice should not be taken as it is high in fiber, which can make diarrhea worse.
The fiber content of raw apples can be hard for an upset stomach. Applesauce makes them easier to digest, providing the benefits of pectin, sugar and other nutrients that lie within. It provides energy and pectin slow down diarrhea by making the stools firmer. Applesauce also contains high amounts of potassium. Applesauce can be made in no time. Peel the skin of apples and cut it into chunks. Add two tablespoons of water and cook over a low heat stirring occasionally. Toast
Toast is a bland carbohydrate that provides energy and stimulates your bowels less than untoasted bread. Toast should be eaten without butter, if it is too dry, jam or jelly can be taken along with the toast. Jams contain pectin and also help to slow down diarrhea.
Variations of BRAT Diet
Other types of BRAT Diet include BRATY and BRATT. The BRATY diet includes yogurt that contains live organisms (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum). These active cultures appear to help establish a healthier balance of bacteria in the digestive tract.
BRATT diet includes teas, especially herbal teas such as peppermint tea
that has a soothing effect on the gastrointestinal system. Peppermint tea helps relax the muscles along the intestinal tract and reduce spasms and intestinal gas. Other Foods to Include for Diarrhea
Foods to Avoid during Diarrhea
- Tea (herbal tea)
- Chicken broth
- Boiled potatoes
- Caffeinated beverages
- Milk and other milk products
- Raw vegetables such as beets, onion, and all cruciferous vegetables
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit)
- Cherries, berries, and figs
BRAT diet should be followed only for a short period of time because it does not provide all the nutrients required for the body to function. This diet is not a weight loss method. BRAT diet is low in proteins, fats, fiber and other essential nutrients. BRAT diet should be followed only for a day or two to help the digestive system to rest and recover. Following BRAT diet for a long term makes the body deprived of vital nutrients and the person becomes malnourished.