Diarrhea is the passage of loose or watery stool. For some, diarrhea is mild and will go away within a few days. For others, it may last longer. It can make you lose too much fluid (dehydrated) and feel weak. It can also lead to unhealthy weight loss.
Having diarrhea on occasion is nothing to worry about. Diarrhea causes can range from a stomach flu to a meal or just an ingredient you ate that didn’t agree with you.
Symptoms of Diarrhea
Diarrhea typically causes symptoms such as:
In adults, temporary diarrhea in itself usually isn’t harmful, but it can sometimes signal more serious problems. In part because of their smaller body volume, children can suffer serious consequences from prolonged diarrhea. Patients should see the doctor if they experience any of these symptoms:
- Blood or pus in the stool
- Black, tarry-looking stools
- Diarrhea that lasts longer than three days
- Fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Severe abdominal or rectal pain
Foods That Stop Diarrhea
Because certain foods can worsen symptoms, in order to start feeling better you need to know what to eat to get rid of diarrhea — and what not to eat. What foods stop diarrhea?
Here is a list of foods to help with diarrhea.
1. Drink Fluids
It’s important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, particularly if you are also vomiting. Take small, frequent sips of water.
Ideally, drink a lot of liquids that contain water, salt and sugar. Some examples include water mixed with juice, flavored soda, and soup broth. If you are drinking enough fluids, your urine will be light yellow or almost clear.
It’s also very important for babies and small children not to become dehydrated. Give your child frequent sips of water, even if they are vomiting. A small amount is better than none. Fruit juice or fizzy drinks should be avoided because they can make diarrhea worse in children.
If you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby and they have diarrhea, you should continue to feed them as normal.
Look for yogurt with live cultures. These “cultures” are friendly bacteria that can go in and line your intestines, providing you with protection from the bad guys. If you’ve already got diarrhea, yogurt can help produce lactic acid in your intestines, which can kill off the nasty bacteria and get you feeling better, faster.
Live-culture yogurt (kefir) is also the best way to treat diarrhea caused by oral antibiotics. The antibiotics kill beneficial bacteria in the intestines, but live-culture products replenish those bacteria. Better still, use these from the time you begin the medication, and you may avoid the diarrhea altogether.
Bananas may help alleviate diarrhea and associated symptoms. Bananas are a “binding” food, which means they help increase the form of the stool and help it to pass more slowly through the intestines. Bananas are also rich in potassium, a vital nutrient often depleted during bouts with diarrhea and vomiting.
Clay has a long history of being used internally, and various clays have proven very effective in the treatment of diarrhea.
One study from the 1960s involved 35 different individuals whose diarrhea problems were being caused by food poisoning, food allergy, viral infection, spastic colitis, or mucous colitis. Two tablespoons of smectite clay (montmorillonite) were given with distilled water three times a day. In 34 of the 35 individuals, the diarrhea was stopped in an average of 3.8 days, and bowel movements reduced to an average of 1.8 per day.
Food allergy–induced diarrhea proved to be the most difficult cases, whereas those from viral infections resolved the quickest.
5. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is good for treating intestinal inflammation, and it has antispasmodic properties as well.
- You can brew yourself a cup of chamomile tea from packaged tea bags, or you can buy chamomile flowers and steep one teaspoon of them and one teaspoon of peppermint leaves in a cup of boiling water for fifteen minutes.
- Drink 3 cups a day.
Also the tannins in ordinary black tea have an anti-diarrheal effect.
6. White Rice
Plain white rice is among the bland foods that stop diarrhea because it is easy to digest. In addition, it can help decrease the amount of stools by adding bulk to the stools.
- Eat small amounts of plain white rice (without any added sauces and spices).
- Gradually increase the amount of rice as your diarrhea improves.
7. Black Seed Oil
Black seed is also used in the treatment of various health problems such as gas, colic, asthma, constipation and diarrhea. For treating diarrhea, use black seed oil.
- Mix a teaspoon of black seed oil in a cup of plain yogurt.
- Eat this mixture twice a day until the diarrhea symptoms are completely gone.
8. Orange Peel Tea
Orange peel tea is a folk remedy that is believed to aid in digestion. Place a chopped orange peel (preferably from an organic orange, as peels otherwise may contain pesticides and dyes) into a pot and cover with 1 pint boiling water. Let it stand until the water is cooled. You can sweeten it with sugar or honey.
Blueberry root is a long-time folk remedy for diarrhea. In Sweden, doctors prescribe a soup made with dried blueberries for tummy problems. Blueberries are rich in anthocyanosides, which have antioxidant and antibacterial properties, as well as tannins, which combat diarrhea.
Foods to Avoid with Diarrhea
Avoid consuming foods high in fiber such as nuts, seeds, fruit or whole grain products. Fiber keeps the colon active and will not help reduce diarrhea.
Spicy foods, fried foods and foods with high sugar content may also stimulate bowel movements. Also, do not consume caffeinated foods or beverages, and avoid full-strength fruit juices.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor if you have:
- Stools with an unusual odor or color
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blood or mucus in your stool
- A fever that does not go away
- Stomach pain
You should also call your doctor if the diarrhea gets worse or does not get better in 2 days for an infant or child, or 5 days for adults.