The BRAT diet is a popular recommendation for recovering from gastroenteritis. The BRAT diet is bananas, applesauce, toast, and rice. These bland foods are gentle on the stomach, which is very important for someone recovering from gastroenteritis.
Applesauce, a uniquely American food product, was first mentioned in an American report from 1926 about the treatment of intestinal intoxication in children.
The BRAT diet has been recommended for many years, but it has become less popular in recent decades. The BRAT diet has not been tested in clinical trials, but studies have shown that each food on the BRAT menu can help with gastro recovery.
Apples and bananas are both rich in pectin, a starch that forms a gel. This gel helps treat diarrhea. Reduced diarrhea in children when green banana flour and pulp were consumed. Bananas contain potassium, which is a good source of replacing potassium lost through diarrhea.
Rice-based oral rehydration solution is a drink that contains water, rice sod,ium, and potassium salts. It can be used to reduce diarrhea and the number of stools. Bangladesh researchers found that a rice-based dietary regimen containing pectin or green banana improved the consistency of stools and decreased diarrhea duration.
Kids recovering from gastro do not need to be restricted in their diet. Shutterstock, CC BY
Read more: Explainer: what is gastroenteritis, and why can’t I get rid of it?
It is believed that the use of apples for diarrhea began in Germany. A nurse named Sister Frieda Klimsch treated dysentery in a hospital.
Another origin describes how a German doctor noticed that dysentery patients who ate apples in an orchard nearby had a shorter and milder disease. The doctor encouraged them to eat apples to treat diarrhea.
In the 1930s, it was noted that eating apple peel could cause vomiting in infants. The peel was, therefore, removed. Grated Apple was used in the 1930s to treat diarrhea.
Applesauce was later recommended as a form of apple to recover from gastroenteritis in the United States and is included in the BRAT Diet. It is interesting to note that giving diluted Apple juice as a treatment for mild dehydration due to gastroenteritis can be both effective and safe.
Applesauce, a product that is uniquely American, can be made with grated apples. Unsplash CC By
Why the advice on gastro diet has changed
In the last 20 years, most doctors have concluded that the BRAT diet, which is restricted, is not healthy for recovery from gastroenteritis because it contains low amounts of fat, protein, and energy. All of these nutrients are essential for healing.
Studies show that normal eating, in general, does not worsen gastroenteritis. You don’t need to restrict your child’s diet. It is not advisable to fast when recovering from gastroenteritis, but you should consider your child’s needs and gradually introduce foods.
In the case of moderate to severe diarrhea, it is sensible to limit intake of simple sugars and fatty foods. This includes juices and soft drinks.
Read more: Diarrhoea, stomach ache, and nausea: the many ways COVID-19 can affect your gut.
Flat soft drinks?
These drinks, such as lemonade and colas, deserve special attention. Some view these drinks as a way to replace fluids and glucose that have been lost through vomiting or diarrhea. Research has shown this is not a good idea.
A British study surveyed the medical literature dating back to the 1950s to find evidence that soft drinks can be used to treat gastroenteritis. They found no evidence.
Researchers compared the electrolytes in colas, sodas, and commercial oral rehydration solutions with the sugar and electrolytes found in the commercially available solutions. The researchers found that soft drinks contained not only very low levels of potassium, sodium, and other electrolytes but also up to seven times more glucose than the World Health Organization recommends for rehydration.
Flat or otherwise, carbonated drinks are not considered adequate for fluids or electrolytes, and they are not recommended.
Rehydration drinks are less sweet and more effective than soft drinks. Shutterstock
What should you drink and eat during recovery from gastroenteritis?
Foods that are appropriate for include fruits and vegetables and lean meats such as yogurt, bread, rice, potatoes, and cereals.
If your child has mild gastroenteritis, you should encourage them to drink water and milk and avoid fruit juices or carbonated drinks.
Commercially available oral rehydration solutions (such as Gastrolyte and Hydralyte) are the best choice for moderate to severe cases.
A systematic meta-analysis of 174 studies concluded that zinc and a probiotic can be helpful during recovery from gastroenteritis. They reduce the length of diarrhea and the volume of stool.