BRAT is the acronym for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast, which are the main foods allowed by the diet recommended for recovering from an upset stomach or diarrhea caused by infection, gastroenteritis or dyspepsia.
The BRAT diet is suitable for both adults and children.
Banana, rice, applesauce and toast are the foundation of the BRAT diet and it is best to eat only these foods for up to 2 days, because they are “binding” foods. They are highly digestible, low in residues and can make your stool firmer.
Bananas are a good choice for your upset stomach due to their high levels of potassium, manganese, and magnesium, which help to replace electrolytes that may be lost by severe bouts of diarrhea. They are also rich in pectin, which absorbs the liquid from the intestines, and in inulin, a prebiotic which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal system.
Rice (white) is a starchy carbohydrate, low in fiber content, which makes it easily digested. The rice should be eaten plain; adding fats the rice can irritate to the gastrointestinal system and contribute to cramping.
Apples, like bananas,are rich in pectin, the jelly-like carbohydrate which treats both diarrhea and constipation. If a raw apple can irritate stomach by raising its acidity, cooked apples are much easier to digest. The benefits of the pectin, sugar and other nutrients from this fruits will not be lost during the cooking process. A good thing in cooking apples is that the high temperature destroys the sorbitol, another substance contained by the apples, which can aggravate diarrhea. For those who do not like applesauce, they can try a drink made of apple pectin and chamomile tea.
Toast (white) helps to neutralize strong stomach acids. This food is perfect to solve the upset stomach problems because it contains light carbohydrates which is broken down easily and digested.
The BRAT diet is usually followed for 24 to 48 hours.
Most of the time, 48 hours is a period long enough for the cells from the intestinal mucus to regenerate and become able to properly absorb nutrients. Following the BRAT Diet for too long can cause malnutrition and it will be harder for your body to get better. As soon as you will feel better and you will get your strength back, you have to reintroduce into your diet a little more substantial foods.
BRAT DIET Tips
- Drink small sips of water, as much as possible, to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid caffeine.
- To avoid additional bloating or gas, limit the fiber intake.
- Besides bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, you can eat: cereal, eggs, milk, baked fish, cooked vegetables, skinless chicken, yogurt.
- Avoid foods like: fats of any kind, concentrated or undiluted juice, carbonated soft drinks, raw fruits and vegetables, fruit juice and liquids with a lot of sugar gelatin desserts, alcohol.
BRAT diet is not recommended for adults or children who are actively vomiting, because they might not be able to ingest the solid foods from the diet plan. They should drink only liquids and wait until they can eat solid foods without vomiting.
Brat Diet as Treatment for Diarrhea
Doctors often recommend the BRAT diet for patients with diarrhea; it is to be taken along with lots of fluids to prevent dehydration. A normal diet that is high in fiber, calories, and protein should always be avoided if suffering from diarrhea, along with fats and sugar rich foods. The BRAT diet works well for the stomach if taken as part of a normal diet.
Our stomach and our body for that matter has a built in natural immune system, and diarrhea is part of the immune system whereby dispelling toxins out from the body by means of a loose bowel movement. An upset stomach may have incurred toxins from unwanted foods, or maybe too much oil and fat intake causes the diarrhea. The logic of the BRAT diet is to return the intake of our stomach to its “compatible” foods.
Misconceptions on Diarrhea
There are many misconceptions regarding the treatment of diarrhea. When our body works to expel toxins, it will cause diarrhea to occur, and along with it is the excessive loss of body fluids. These body fluids contain beneficial amounts of salt and electrolytes, and it has ions that are found in cells and blood that is important for the body. Parents usually give their child Pedialyte or oral hydration solutions in thinking that it would cure diarrhea. Pedialyte is not a cure for diarrhea, as it could not kill even a single bacterium which causes the stomach disorder, and instead it only helps prevent dehydration among the patients suffering from stomach troubles. Avoid giving your child just Pedialyte during diarrhea. Along with the BRAT diet, the chances of full recovery from diarrhea is high.
For diarrhea, it is best to avoid your regular foods, as your stomach is in the state wherein it is in poor health, and digesting for it is strenuous work. Besides, certain foods may aggravate your stomach and make your condition worse. Foods such as dairy products, sweets, alcohol, fatty foods, and those that are high in fiber should be avoided. Drink lots of fluids, but avoid drinks that are too cold or hot. Room temperature water may be taken, and sipping is the best way to do it. Two cups of water is necessary every hour to avoid dehydration.
Slowly introduce the BRAT diet, and eat only in moderation and do not stuff your stomach, as it may still be weak and cannot tolerate large amounts of food by this time. You can also support your diet with Oral Re-hydration Solution or Pedialyte. It replenishes lost salts and electrolytes of the body due to diarrhea.
Usually diarrhea is a self-limiting sickness. Just like the cold, our body has an immune system that is always working round the clock, and diarrhea is one of its ways of protecting the body, as it expels toxins out, but if diarrhea lasts longer and is accompanied by vomiting, immediate medical attention should be considered.
Ask your family doctor if you have any questions about whether you or your child should follow the BRAT diet.