Hands up if you’ve ever had diarrhea! It’s a common experience, and it can be caused by a wide range of factors, from viral infections to food allergies, stress, and more. While anti-diarrheal medications are available over-the-counter, natural remedies and foods can be just as effective – and without the potential side effects.
Psyllium husk, a plant fiber derived from an herb called Plantago ovata, is a quick and effective remedy for mild-to-moderate diarrhea. When combined with water, the psyllium husk swells and forms a kind of gel that absorbs excess liquid and waste in the bowel. Probiotics, which help to restore the balance of “good” bacteria in the gut, are another effective remedy for diarrhea. Effective strains include Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus paracasei.
Activated charcoal, which binds to toxins and adsorbs harmful material in the gut, is also a useful natural remedy for diarrhea. It can also help to prevent toxins from reaching the liver, making it a good choice for ingested poisons.
When it comes to diet, there are foods that help with diarrhea and those to avoid. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, apples, and toast, and these bland foods can help to firm up stools by binding with excess water in the gut. Other foods that can help include cooked cereal such as oats or wheat, unflavored soda crackers, applesauce, and apple juice (unsweetened). It’s also important to keep up fluid and mineral intake with electrolytes, which can be found in electrolyte powders or liquid-based foods such as clear broths, drinks with added electrolytes, natural coconut water, and weak black tea.
On the other hand, there are foods to avoid when you have diarrhea, including all dairy products, fried and spicy foods, beans, cabbage, broccoli, processed and/or packaged foods, fatty meats, raw vegetables, rhubarb, onions (raw or cooked), corn, dried and fresh fruits (especially citrus, pineapples, stone fruits, berries, figs, currants, and grapes), all alcohol, and all caffeinated and/or carbonated beverages. Foods or drinks that contain artificial sweeteners, including sorbitol, should also be avoided.
In conclusion, diarrhea is a common experience that can be caused by a range of factors. Natural remedies and foods can be just as effective as anti-diarrheal medications, including psyllium husk, probiotics, activated charcoal, and electrolytes. When it comes to diet, bland foods like bananas, rice, apples, and toast can help to firm up stools, and it’s important to avoid difficult-to-digest foods and those that exacerbate inflammation in the gut. As always, if diarrhea persists for more than a day or two, seek medical advice.