Diarrhea is a condition that results in frequent, loose, or watery stools. People of all ages can get diarrhea with infants and the elderly at the greatest risk of dehydration. Sometimes trying to get rid of diarrhea will depend on its cause.
Diarrhea happens when the digestive system does not function properly. The condition is caused by viral or bacterial infections. But, diarrhea can also be brought on by consuming contaminated food and water, food intolerances or intestinal diseases.
While it is not a serious health condition, suffering from diarrhea can be an embarrassing one. And when it strikes, you should attend to the problem immediately and not let it worsen. Fortunately, trying to get rid of diarrhea can be effectively achieved with eating the right foods.
The most typical symptoms of diarrhea include abdominal pain, bloating and nausea. In most cases, diarrhea will go away in a couple of days but may linger longer based on the intensity of the problem.
Diarrhea lasting longer than a few days may be an indication of a more serious condition. Chronic diarrhea which lasts for at least four weeks could indicate a chronic disease. In these cases, chronic diarrhea symptoms may be continual or they may come and go.
What Causes Diarrhea?
Diarrhea is not a disease in itself but a symptom of some other condition. Some of the factors that can bring about diarrhea can include the following:
Inadequate reabsorption of water
In a healthy digestive system, water gets absorbed through the intestinal walls as food passes through the tract. The solid matter that gets left behind is eliminated through the body as fecal matter.
Almost 8 liters of water are reabsorbed daily from the colon for this process to happen smoothly. But if something speeds up the absorption or interferes with this process, then digestive problems occur. For example, the fluids may get expelled from the body along with the solid waste instead of being reabsorbed. So, one cause of diarrhea is when the water is not reabsorbed and loose, watery, and frequent bowel movements result.
Too much water secretion in the digestive tract
Another reason is when the bowel secretes too much water. The presence of certain bacteria can stimulate water secretions in the digestive system. When this happens, too much water gets secreted resulting in diarrhea.
Diarrhea can cause the loss of fluids and electrolytes from the body. This can make you feel weak and disoriented and also affect your blood pressure. Plus, other vitals such as muscle movement and heart rate can also get affected. That is why it is important to adequately replenish lost fluids when trying to get rid of diarrhea.
These can include bacterial, viral, fungal or even parasitic infections.
- Among these viral infections cause the most cases of diarrhea. These infections present mild to moderate symptoms and may sometimes exhibit low grade fever.
- Bacterial infections bring about more serious bouts of diarrhea. These types of infections happen because of eating contaminated food or drink, also known as food poisoning.The toxins in food cause abdominal pain and vomiting.
- Parasites can cause infections when the person drinks contaminated water.
Diarrhea could also happen as a reaction to certain medications. In fact, drug-induced diarrhea is very common. To try to get rid of diarrhea caused by drugs, you need to know the triggers first.
This type of diarrhea often kicks in after treatment with drugs begins. Medications that can most often cause diarrhea include antacids and those with magnesium supplements.
Even some common ones like NSAIDs and anti-biotics may also trigger diarrhea.
Some other causes of diarrhea include intestinal disease like IBS or celiac disease.
- IBS is a functional cause of diarrhea. It is believed that the most common cause is rapid passage of intestinal contents through the colon.
- Celiac disease occurs when the small intestine does not absorb fats properly. The undigested fats enter the small intestine and can cause diarrhea among other symptoms.
- The stomach flu is also a common cause of diarrhea.
- In some cases, alcohol abuse or laxative abuse can trigger diarrhea.
When food does not get digested completely, it can start to ferment in the intestines. This can also cause diarrhea. Among these, there is carbohydrate malabsorption and fat malabsorption.
- Carbohydrate malabsorption is an inability to absorb sugars. The most common type is lactose intolerance.
- Fat malabsorption refers to the inability to absorb fats. This type occurs when insufficient pancreatic secretions do not digest fat properly.
How to Get Rid Of Diarrhea by Eating Right
Most cases of diarrhea last for a day or two. But when the symptoms continue beyond that, it is important to locate the cause of the condition and not just stop it with medications. And if you suffer from chronic diarrhea, you need to get medical help for this can affect your health long term.
You can try and get rid of diarrhea using some natural home remedies. These remedies can help you fight the infection and provide some relief from its uncomfortable symptoms.
When you want to try a natural approach to get rid of diarrhea, remember that the foods you need to eat must contain at least one of the following active ingredients:
- Tannins are chemicals which lend food their astringency. This means the ability to bind and contract tissues. Tannins stick to the protein layer of inflamed membranes. In the case of diarrhea this would be in the intestines. Here they cause membranes to thicken which slows the absorption of toxins.
- Pectin is a soluble fiber which adds bulk to stool and soothes the digestive system.
- Mucilage is another type of fiber that also bulks up the stool by absorbing water.
Foods that contain any of these ingredients can help you get rid of diarrhea more effectively than others. The following nutrient-dense foods will not aggravate your symptoms but help you stay nourished instead.
Yogurt, especially the kind with live bacterial cultures can be consumed to get rid of diarrhea. The live cultures in yogurt assist in restoring good bacteria in the intestines while destroying the harmful ones.
The probiotics in yogurt are also beneficial for reducing diarrhea linked to antibiotic usage.
Just consuming two bowls of yogurt everyday can give you noticeable results when trying to get rid of diarrhea. You can also eat a banana with the yogurt for added benefits.
Apples can be eaten with or without the peel. But it is good to know that both the peel and the pulp contain a lot of pectin. You can have apples raw if you like the fruit, or have applesauce if your stomach feels queasy.
Along with the pectin content, apples have certain chemicals that seem to be able to kill gut bacteria.
Ginger is very beneficial for treating stomach and abdominal problems. It can also be used to get rid of diarrhea.
You can have a small, grated piece of ginger with some honey. Eat this mixture to boost the release of gastric juices and improve digestion. Having this mixture two times a day can help you get rid of diarrhea and improve digestion. Be sure not to drink any water after having this mixture.
Another way to use ginger when trying to get rid of diarrhea is to drink ginger tea. You can prepare the tea by taking a small slice of ginger and boiling it in one cup of water. Let the mixture boil for a few minutes and strain. Add some honey to this tea before drinking.
If you do not have fresh ginger on hand, you can also brew the tea with powdered ginger instead.
Fenugreek is a spice that has been used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine extensively. It is also known well for its medicinal qualities. One of its benefits is treating gastrointestinal spasms and getting rid of diarrhea.
The seeds of this spice contain mucilage which is a type of soluble fiber. It is produced from the seeds of the plant and helps absorb water in the intestines.
For a daily dose of fenugreek to get rid of diarrhea, chew one teaspoon of its seeds and have a tablespoon of yogurt with it.
Or, you could mix 1/2 teaspoons of fenugreek and cumin seeds each with two tablespoons of yogurt and have this mixture. Take this mixture three times every day for relief from diarrhea.
This is a nutrient-rich food option that will support your gut. It is easy to digest and can help soothe the digestive tract.
Although bone broth is in liquid form, it is nutritionally dense. When you consume bone broth to get rid of diarrhea, your stomach does not have to work hard. The broth is not tough on the digestive tract and does not need to be broken down.
Oats have soluble fiber which absorbs excess fluids. This feature also adds bulk to loose stools. Plus, oats are also a gluten free food option.
To use oats to get rid of diarrhea, soak them overnight. This will help reduce anti-nutrients which may otherwise disrupt nutrient absorption.
Try having some chamomile tea when you want to get rid of diarrhea. The tea possesses antispasmodic features which can provide relief from abdominal discomfort.
During a bout of diarrhea, abdominal cramps are a common occurrence. The discomfort of stomach cramps and loose stools can have a very debilitating effect on anyone suffering from diarrhea. You can ease this discomfort by making some homemade chamomile tea or getting a store brand variety.
Make some chamomile tea using one teaspoon of chamomile flowers and peppermint leaves each. Let boil in a cup of water for about 10 minutes. Strain and drink tea two times every day.
Have Some Carrot Soup
Carrot soup is a high bulk food that can help you get rid of diarrhea. It is also a good way of replenishing essential nutrients lost during diarrhea.
To make the soup, you will need:
- 500 grams carrots
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups water
Wash, peel and finely chop carrots. Add to water and let cook until carrots are tender. Put liquid in strainer and mash the carrots. Add a little salt to the soup and have it fresh a couple of times a day.
Cooked carrots seem to soothe the digestive tract and control diarrhea better than raw ones.
These are healing foods with the potential to soothe an upset digestive system. Root vegetables are all natural, unadulterated sources of complex carbs. They have a lot of important nutrients and are generally low in the glycemic index.
As a result they are considered to cause less digestive discomfort or other inflammatory issues. When you suffer from diarrhea, you should include complex carbs and starches in your treatment.
To get rid of diarrhea, you can choose from options like carrots, sweet potatoes or squash. Prepare them into a comforting soup.
While it may seem counterintuitive, drinking fluids to get rid of diarrhea is important. This is because no matter what the severity of the condition, diarrhea always causes dehydration.
As a result, preventing dehydration is always a primary concern with diarrhea. If you also happen to vomit then make sure to drink fluids frequently.
Water is a good starting point, but you can also choose from other drinks that have sodium and potassium in them. Stay away from caffeinated beverages as caffeine is a diuretic and will have a dehydrating effect.
Try the BRAT Diet
This diet is specifically recommended for people who suffer from diarrhea. The name stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. It is a bland food diet which includes foods that make the stool firmer.
Bland foods do not irritate the stomach and help the body ease back into normal eating. With easy digestion, these foods can give the stomach a rest and reduce the amount of stool produced.
Bananas are a good fruit to have when you are trying to get rid of diarrhea. They are full of fiber, yet gentle enough to pass through a weakened digestive system. They also contain pectin that helps absorb liquid in the intestines. This action assists in moving stool along more smoothly.
Plus, bananas contain a lot of potassium. Potassium is one of the electrolytes lost during diarrhea bouts, so replacing it is important.
The “R” in the BRAT diet stands for rice. Plain white rice is easy to digest in the stomach and can give your stomach some much needed relief. Rice is also binding, a feature that can help firm up loose stool.
If simple white rice does not seem appealing enough, grate an apple on it to add some flavor. The apple can also combat nausea and help you get rid of diarrhea faster.
You already know that apples are a good recommendation when you are trying to get rid of diarrhea. But if you suffer from a more chronic form of the condition, then go for applesauce.
This is because the high fiber content in apple may make it too tough on your stomach. But cooking the apples makes it easier to digest them. So applesauce becomes a more suitable alternative, especially for children and the elderly.
However, if you suffer from IBS, then skip the applesauce altogether. This is because apples contain certain carbohydrates that can worsen the symptoms of IBS.
White Bread Toast
The final ingredient of the BRAT diet is toast. While typically whole wheat bread is considered healthier, it does have a lot of fiber. The fiber may be tough on the stomach, so the diet recommends using white bread instead.
White bread is easier to digest as it has very little fiber. This makes it more suitable to eat when trying to get rid of diarrhea.
For people with IBS, it is better to choose a slice of gluten free toast. Since gluten can be an IBS trigger, it is best to avoid it completely.
Caution Regarding the BRAT Diet
Since the foods included in the BRAT diet are generally low in fiber, protein and fat, some experts say that the diet does not provide enough nutrition. If you follow the BRAT diet alone, or for too long, you may become malnourished. This will only make it more difficult to get better again. It is best to not simply rely on this diet, but also use other foods along with it.
Foods That Can Cause Diarrhea in Some People
Just as you need to know what foods can help you get rid of diarrhea, you also need to know which foods to stay away from. This is because certain foods can be problematic for the bowel. If you suffer from chronic diarrhea, you should try to eliminate or at least reduce the following foods until you feel better.
Many dairy products contain a natural sugar called lactose. A lot pf people have a hard time digesting lactose while others cannot tolerate it at all.
A person becomes lactose intolerant when their small intestine stops making the enzyme lactase. Lactase helps breakdown and digest lactose. When undigested lactose moves into the large intestine, the bacteria present there causes unpleasant symptoms like gas, bloating and diarrhea.
Lactose intolerance can cause these symptoms to occur about half an hour to two hours after having milk or other dairy products.
People who like to eat out should be careful when ordering their foods. Certain foods can be prepared earlier but heated later on. These items may become contaminated faster than others which are prepared fresh. For example, dishes like quiche or lasagna can become more prone to bacterial contamination since they are often prepared beforehand.
Fruit juice contains a natural sugar known as fructose. When fructose is consumed in large amounts, it can move into the large intestine undigested. This action can cause the fructose to ferment and result in diarrhea.
Foods with Too Much Fiber
While fiber is a very good thing to include in your diet when healthy, stay away from it during diarrhea. Fiber helps bowel movements keep steady but when you have too many, you want to try avoid losing stools.
This is why experts recommend regulating your intake of fibrous vegetables and whole grains when trying to get rid of diarrhea.
What Medications Can Help With Getting Rid Of Diarrhea?
If home remedies do not help, you may wish to look at some other alternatives. There are a number of different medications that can help you get rid of your diarrhea faster.
These are medications which are taken orally and contain compounds which absorb water. When this happens, absorbents bind water in the small intestine and colon and make the stool less watery.
This class of medications help relax the muscles of the small intestine and colon. This action slows down the flow of intestinal contents. With slow flow time, more water can be reabsorbed from the intestines and reduce the water content of stool.
The very well-known Pepto-Bismol falls in this category of medication that can get rid of diarrhea. It is tolerated well by most people with some minor side effects such as darkened stools. However, there are many precautions to be observed when using this medication. Always consult with your doctor first.
When to See a Doctor?
Doctors who treat patients with acute diarrhea are known as gastroenterologists. They are specialists who manage diarrhea related issues and try to diagnose the cause of the condition.
Since most cases of diarrhea are mild, you may not need to see a specialist. But if diarrhea is chronic or recurrent then you should go to a doctor if:
- You have a high fever of greater than 101 F
- Experience moderate to severe abdominal discomfort including tenderness or pain
- Become moderate to severely dehydrated
- You experience prolonged vomiting
- Notice bloody diarrhea suggesting inflammation in the intestines
- Have other health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease