Soothing the Stomach – 9 Foods to Eat When You Have Diarrhoea

Stomach pain can be caused by several conditions, ranging from indigestion to a viral infection. One common cause of stomach discomfort is diarrhoea, resulting from various underlying issues such as food poisoning, allergies, or stress. Knowing what to eat when you have diarrhoea is crucial in soothing your stomach and aiding your body’s recovery.

Diarrhoea is characterised by loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual, often accompanied by abdominal pain, bloating, and a sense of urgency. Identifying the right food for diarrhoea is essential, as certain foods can help alleviate the symptoms and restore your digestive system’s balance.

This article will explore nine foods to eat when you have diarrhoea, focusing on those that can soothe your stomach and aid your recovery. 

Causes of Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea can be caused by various factors, from infections to food intolerances and certain medications. Some of the most common causes of diarrhoea include:

  1. Viral Infections

A common cause of diarrhoea is viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu. Rotavirus and norovirus are examples of viruses that can cause diarrhoea.

  1. Bacterial Infections

Bacteria such as E. coli, Shigella, Campylobacter and Salmonella can cause bacterial gastroenteritis, which results in diarrhoea.

  1. Parasitic Infections

Parasites like Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Entamoeba histolytica can infect the digestive system and cause diarrhoea.

  1. Food Intolerances

Some individuals have difficulty digesting certain components in food, resulting in diarrhoea. For example, lactose intolerance can cause diarrhoea when consuming dairy products.

  1. Food Allergies

Allergic reactions to specific foods, such as gluten, shellfish, or nuts, can lead to diarrhoea.

  1. Medications

Certain medications, like antibiotics, antacids containing magnesium, and some chemotherapy drugs, can cause diarrhoea as a side effect.

  1. Medical Conditions

Diarrhoea can be a symptom of various conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

  1. Surgery Or Medical Procedures

Diarrhoea can sometimes result from surgery or procedures involving the gastrointestinal tract, such as gallbladder removal or radiation therapy.

  1. Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can alter the digestive system and cause diarrhoea in some people.

Identifying the cause of diarrhoea is crucial to managing the condition effectively. Monitoring your symptoms and adjusting your diet to include food for diarrhoea can help soothe your stomach and aid recovery. If your symptoms persist or worsen, or you experience severe dehydration or high fever, consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment.

Symptoms of diarrhoea

Symptoms of diarrhoea can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. The most common symptoms of diarrhoea include:

  1. Loose, Watery Stools

The primary symptom of diarrhoea is frequent, loose, and watery stools. These bowel movements may occur more often than usual, sometimes several times daily.

  1. Abdominal Pain

Diarrhoea often causes abdominal pain ranging from mild to severe. This pain may be felt as cramping or discomfort in the lower abdomen.

  1. Bloating

Diarrhoea can cause bloating or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen, which can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful.

  1. Bowel Movement Urgency

A sense of urgency to have a bowel movement is common during episodes of diarrhoea. It can make it difficult to delay going to the bathroom, even for short periods.

  1. Nausea

Diarrhoea may be accompanied by nausea or a feeling of wanting to vomit.

  1. Dehydration

Diarrhoea can lead to dehydration due to the body’s rapid loss of fluids and electrolytes. Dehydration symptoms include dark urine, dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, and sunken eyes.

  1. Fever

In some cases, diarrhoea may accompany a fever, indicating that infection or inflammation is present.

  1. Weight Loss

Prolonged diarrhoea can result in weight loss due to the loss of nutrients and fluids.

What To Eat When You Have Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea can be an uncomfortable and debilitating experience, making it essential to adjust your diet to soothe your stomach and support your body’s recovery. Some foods can help alleviate diarrhoea symptoms and restore your digestive system’s balance. It includes the following: 

1. Bananas

Bananas are high in potassium and contain soluble fibre like pectin, which helps solidify stools. These properties make bananas a beneficial food for diarrhoea.

2. Rice

White rice is easily digestible and low in fibre, which can help bind stools together and reduce the frequency of bowel movements during diarrhoea.

3. Applesauce

Applesauce contains pectin, which can help bulk up stools and slow their passage through the digestive system. It is also easily digestible, making it a suitable food for diarrhoea.

4. Toast

Toast made from white bread is simple and bland for easily digestible diarrhoea. Toast can help absorb excess fluid in the stomach, relieving diarrhoea symptoms.

5. Saltine Crackers

Saltine crackers are low in fibre, making them gentle on the digestive system during diarrhoea. They can also help replace some sodium lost during diarrhoea, restoring the body’s electrolyte balance.

6. Chicken Broth

Chicken broth is a soothing food for diarrhoea that helps maintain hydration levels and contains essential electrolytes, making it an ideal choice for replenishing those lost during diarrhoea.

7. Yoghurt 

Yoghurt containing live active cultures is an exception among dairy products regarding diarrhoea. These probiotics help restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut and support digestion and recovery.

8. Herbal Tea (E.G., Chamomile, Ginger, Or Peppermint)

Herbal teas like chamomile, ginger, and peppermint can help soothe the stomach and alleviate discomfort during diarrhoea. Drinking herbal teas can also contribute to maintaining proper hydration levels while dealing with diarrhoea.

9. Coconut Water

Coconut water is an excellent option for diarrhoea because it is a natural source of electrolytes and hydration. It is gentle on the stomach, providing relief without causing further irritation.

Incorporating these nine foods into your diet during a bout of diarrhoea can help soothe your stomach and support your body’s recovery. Remember to consult your healthcare professional if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Hydration and Electrolyte Balance

During episodes of diarrhoea, maintaining proper hydration and electrolyte balance is crucial for supporting your body’s recovery and preventing complications. 

Importance of Staying Hydrated During Diarrhoea

  1. Prevents Dehydration

Diarrhoea can cause rapid fluid and electrolyte loss, leading to dehydration. Staying hydrated helps counteract these losses and supports the body’s recovery.

  1. Helps Flush Out Toxins and Bacteria

Proper hydration can also aid in flushing out toxins and harmful bacteria from the digestive system, contributing to healing.

Rehydration Solutions

Rehydration solutions play a crucial role in maintaining hydration and replenishing lost electrolytes during episodes of diarrhoea. These specially formulated solutions can help support recovery and prevent complications related to fluid and electrolyte imbalances.

  1. Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS)

Oral rehydration salts are specially formulated solutions containing glucose and essential electrolytes. They are designed to replace lost fluids and electrolytes during diarrhoea effectively. ORS can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies or made at home using a recipe from a healthcare provider.

  1. Sports Drinks (in moderation)

Sports drinks can help replenish some of the electrolytes lost during diarrhoea, but they should be consumed in moderation as they may contain high sugar levels. In some cases, diluting sports drinks with water can help balance electrolytes and sugar content.

Staying hydrated and maintaining electrolyte balance during diarrhoea is essential for a swift recovery and for preventing complications. Incorporate these rehydration solutions into your diarrhoea management plan and consult a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Tips on Preventing Diarrhoea

Preventing diarrhoea is crucial for maintaining good health and avoiding the discomfort and inconvenience it can cause. Here are various strategies to minimise the risk of developing diarrhoea and promote overall digestive health.

1. Practise Good Hygiene (Handwashing)

Practising good hygiene is one of the most effective ways to prevent diarrhoea. Hand washing thoroughly and frequently, especially before preparing or eating food and after using the restroom, can help reduce the risk of ingesting harmful pathogens.

2. Store and Prepare Food Safely

Proper food storage and preparation are crucial for preventing diarrhoea caused by bacterial contamination. Ensure that perishable foods are refrigerated promptly, and cook meat and poultry to the appropriate internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly and separate raw meats from other foods to avoid cross-contamination.

3. Drink Clean Water

Drinking clean and safe water is critical to avoid diarrhoea caused by waterborne pathogens. Use filtered or boiled water when travelling to areas with questionable water quality, and avoid consuming ice or beverages made from tap water in such regions.

4. Be Aware of Food Intolerances and Allergies

Knowing your food intolerances and allergies can help prevent diarrhoea caused by specific food triggers. If you know your sensitivities, avoid the offending foods and look for alternative safe options for your digestive system.

5. Consult A Doctor When Necessary

In case of enduring or severe diarrhoea, seeking advice from a healthcare practitioner is crucial. They can determine the underlying cause of your symptoms, prescribe suitable treatment, and suggest dietary adjustments to minimise the likelihood of further episodes.

Regaining Digestive Balance

Managing diarrhoea effectively involves making strategic dietary choices and maintaining proper hydration and electrolyte balance. Avoiding foods that may exacerbate symptoms or irritate the digestive system is also important.

Always consult a healthcare professional when experiencing persistent or severe diarrhoea, as they can help identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment. Adhering to these dietary guidelines and seeking professional advice when necessary can support your body’s recovery and maintain optimal digestive health.