Diarrhea and the digestive system: what to eat?
A diarrhea diet aims to hydrate the body and slow intestinal transit by following an anti-diarrheal diet rich in soluble fibres, proteins, and nutrients.
The main points of the diarrhea diet:
Avoid foods that irritate the intestines.
prefer foods rich in soluble fiber;
compensation for losses of water and micronutrients;
Limit fats and simple sugars.
What to eat in case of diarrhea in adults and children?
In the event of diarrhoea, it is important to respect dietary recommendations aimed at reducing water and electrolyte losses to avoid any risk of dehydration. This special diet compensates for the deficiencies of certain nutrients that may occur in the event of a prolonged episode of diarrhea.
Foods against diarrhea
Foods that help fight diarrhea and its consequences are rich in soluble fiber, water, protein and nutrients.
Soluble fiber has the ability to form a gel in the digestive tract, so it allows liquid stools to become more consistent.
The best sources of soluble fiber to supplement in case of diarrhea are:
beans, broad beans, dried peas and chickpeas as tolerated;
Bread and oat bran.
Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus, Kale, Broccoli.
Figs, apricots, nectarines and oranges.
Chia or flax seeds.
Pectin found in apples, pears, peaches, grapes, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes.
Psyllium can be incorporated by adding 1 teaspoon to a glass of water. One can increase by 1 teaspoon per day, if tolerance is good.
Proteins prevent loss of muscle mass. It is recommended to eat a source of protein at every meal. Foods that are high in protein to fight diarrhea are:
Sea fruit ;
Foods to compensate for the loss of electrolytes
Sodium and potassium are two of the most important nutrients to replace during a bout of diarrhea. Eating more food, but in smaller amounts, provides a better surface for absorption of these nutrients.
Foods rich in sodium and potassium that are best used as part of an anti-diarrheal diet are:
Soup and broth
pork meat ;
Natural and smoked fish.
Are there foods that cause diarrhea?
Certain foods can irritate the intestines, such as foods high in fat, lactose, and simple sugars. An anti-diarrheal diet aims, until symptoms disappear, to follow a specific diet low in foods that can aggravate diarrhea.
Irritant foods should be avoided as part of an anti-diarrheal diet. In fact, it stimulates bowel function and speeds up transit.
These foods are generally rich in insoluble fiber, irritants, or gas-producing substances:
bran and whole grain products;
Vegetables and legumes.
nuts and seeds;
Soft drinks ;
“Carbonated” foods: cabbage, onions, leeks, garlic, corn, peas, chewing gum, etc.
Lactose intolerance can occur during an episode of diarrhea, and it is often transient and of short duration.
If you find that foods rich in lactose (especially milk) cause discomfort, reduce your intake for a few days.
It is important to meet your calcium needs by choosing dairy products or alternatives that are low in lactose:
vegan soy milk
Fats should be avoided in a diarrheal diet because they increase the speed of intestinal transit.
Here is a list of fatty foods to avoid as part of a diarrhea diet:
Fatty meat and charcuterie.
fried or breaded products;
Pastries, pastries and biscuits.
Butter, ghee and cream.
Vinegar and mayonnaise sauce.
Oil seed puree.
Foods rich in sugars and simple sweeteners should be avoided to fight diarrhea.
Sweeteners are used in many industrial products and have a laxative effect when taken in high doses. We will also avoid low-sugar products, which contain 0% artificial sweeteners.
The most popular artificial sweeteners are aspartame, sucralose, acesulfamate, saccharin, and cyclamate.
Products rich in simple sugars to be avoided in case of diarrhea are:
white or brown sugar, brown sugar;
glucose-fructose syrup, maple syrup, honey, jam and jelly;
Pastries, pastries and sweets.
breakfast cereals and cereal bars;
Cakes, biscuits and sweets.
Commercial sauces: ketchup, barbecue, pickles.
Fruit yogurt and ice cream.
flavored beverages made from milk or syrup and fruit juices;
Soft drinks and alcohol
Low-sugar products: jams, soft drinks, yogurt, etc.
Dishes with sauce and cream.
Restore strength after eating: our special recipe
Here is a recipe to include in your diarrhea diet to compensate for the loss of electrolytes:
350 ml pure, unsweetened orange juice;
600 ml of boiled water, cooled;
1/2 teaspoon salt.
It is important to put the exact amounts of each ingredient and drink this mixture in small amounts spread throughout the day.
Our other tip in case of diarrhea
Here are some other recommendations to make it easier to follow the anti-diarrheal diet:
Drink small sips of water throughout the day.
Eat light meals several times a day, if necessary;
Prefer vegetables in the form of soup or stewed: zucchini, carrots, white leeks;
Consumption of refined grain products: white pasta, basmati rice, etc. ;
Avoid soft drinks, straw drinks, and very fast food to avoid bloating;
Eat fruit in the form of unsweetened homemade compote.
If you have diarrhea, it is recommended to eat several small meals per day to increase the intestinal absorption of nutrients. To make sure you avoid micronutrient leakage and facilitate digestion, avoid skipping meals or eating only three rich meals.
Supplement with probiotics
Probiotics can be helpful in reducing or preventing diarrhea when it's caused by bacteria. They recolonize the intestinal mucosa with good bacteria while eliminating pathogenic bacteria to restore gut balance and strengthen the immune system.
In addition, it is recommended to take a course of probiotics after a bout of diarrhea, since the latter harm the intestines and upset the balance of the flora.
Keep well hydrated
It is very important to replace fluid loss due to diarrhea. It is recommended to drink it often and in small quantities, 1.5 to 2 liters per day.
In acute gastroenteritis accompanied by vomiting: It is recommended to split a sip of a liquid solution (water or other every 30 minutes).
See the FODMAP fact sheet for more information about treating chronic diarrhea in irritable bowel syndrome.
Moving forward: identify the reasons for a proper diet
In the case of diarrhea, the first step is to find out the cause and, if possible, eliminate it. Once identified, an appropriate anti-diarrheal diet can be suggested.
Different types of diarrhea
In general, diarrhea is characterized by the evacuation of more than 3 abundant and liquid stools. Often the number of stools is more than three per day. It can be acute or chronic if it persists for more than 3 weeks. It can be associated with abdominal pain, cramps and general weakness.
It is caused by the ingestion of little or no substances that are absorbed by the digestive system. These substances then retain water that must be eliminated through the stool. Carbohydrates such as fructose, sorbitol or mannitol are usually the cause of osmotic diarrhea.
This diarrhea is due to the excessive secretion of water and electrolytes caused by bacteria such as salmonella or shigella. It can also be due to bile salt malabsorption, taking laxatives, or chronic alcoholism.
It is the secretion of protein and blood into the intestine which increases the water content and bulk of the stool. This type of diarrhea is caused by intestinal infections and diseases such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease or ulcerative colitis.
In this case, the contact time between the stool and the absorption surface is reduced. Then the stool becomes more liquid. Bowel motility disorders are observed after certain intestinal resections, surgical diversions, or after taking certain medications.
If the episode of diarrhea is severe with fever or lasts for more than 10 days, it is necessary to consult a doctor.