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Brat Diet: Is It Really Effective? Great Tips To Lose Weight

brat diet

BRAT is a special diet for people with stomach illness such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and cramping. This is actually an acronym for the foods included in the diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast.

These foods are low in fiber, fat, and protein, and thus they are gentle on the stomach. But as with any highly restrictive diet, it is only recommended for a short time; i.e., not longer than 48 hours in adults, or 24 hours in children.

In the event that your diarrhea or other gastric symptoms persist longer than 1-2 days, you may still continue your BRAT diet provided that you gradually include other foods to make sure that you get enough calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients. Take note that prolonged use of any restrictive diet is tied to malnutrition, lethargy, and a wide range of health problems.

What Is the BRAT Diet Meant to Do?

 

The idea behind the BRAT diet is to give the digestive tract a chance to rest by reducing the amount of stool and the frequency of the bowel movement. Read on the list of people who may benefit from this easy-to-digest, highly restrictive diet.

  • Adults and children suffering from diarrhea
  • Pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness
  • People with stomach illness that is often associated with loose stool, cramping, vomiting, nausea, and/or pain

In the past, BRAT was commonly recommended for young children and infants with an upset stomach, although nowadays experts say that due to its insufficient nutrients and calories, it may not be the best option for sick children.

Because the BRAT diet lacks essential nutrients, macronutrients, and protein for healing; some experts modify this by including a variety of foods. Several studies have shown that some of the BRAT foods may improve diarrhea.

For example, banana is rich in pectin, which is a starch that reduces stool and bowel movement; and potassium, a mineral or electrolyte that you lose during a bout of diarrhea. This fruit also helps with the absorption of water and is bland enough to pass easily through your compromised digestive tract.

In a nutshell, this super fruit is the nature’s best remedy for diarrhea.

In fact, one study involving baby boys aged 5-12 months who suffered from diarrhea has shown that the group who ate banana with rice required less intravenous fluids for hydration, experienced less vomiting, and had a reduction in the amount of stool and frequency of bowel movement compared to the group who were only given a rice diet.


What Can You Eat

 

Due to the restrictive nature of BRAT diet, some experts prefer its modified versions. For instance, one version is called BRATY, which adds yogurt to the list of food, and BRATT, which includes tea.

To reiterate, the BRAT diet is not intended to be used long term, because it does not provide enough macronutrients, micronutrients, protein, and fiber. Hence, many experts who recommend this diet suggest that you also add other bland and easy-to-digest foods such as:

  • Chicken or vegetable broth, sweet potatoes
  • Steamed skinless potato without cream, butter, and other additives.
  • Saltine crackers
  • Steamed, grilled, or baked chicken provided that it is stripped of skin and fat
  • Processed oatmeal (not steel cut or high-fiber oatmeal)
  • Watermelon

bowl of cherries and chicken

 

Good Bacteria-Rich Foods

 

Studies have shown that beneficial gut bacteria, also known as probiotics, could shorten the course of diarrhea.  The types of bacteria that are known to be the most effective remedy for frequent bowel movement are Lactobacillus reuteri, Saccharomyces boulardii, and Lactobacillus GG.

Aside from probiotics, products that are often taken together with oral rehydration treatments; other good sources of probiotics include natural yogurt, miso soup, kombucha, kefir sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables.

According to several studies, the combination of probiotics and oral rehydration products may help reduce the duration and frequency of diarrhea by 24 hours.

 

Staying Hydrated

 

Dehydration is one of the risks that comes with a prolonged bout of diarrhea and vomiting, because the body loses more fluids than it can take. Its symptoms include dry mouth, weakness, heart palpitations, lightheadedness especially when standing, lack of tears and sweat, confusion, and muscle cramps.

During bouts of diarrhea, it is a sacrosanct rule to drink more fluids to combat dehydration, which is particularly dangerous in children and the elderly. Aside from water and oral rehydration products (e.g. Pedialyte), other fluids such as clear broths, apple juice, coconut water, and ginger or peppermint tea can also help. Conversely, avoid sugary drinks, because they are known to exacerbate diarrhea, cramping, and other gastric symptoms.

Meanwhile, you can purchase oral rehydration products over-the-counter at a pharmacy; they come in powdered (to be mixed with water), popsicle, or liquid form. They are suitable for children and adults with mild-to-moderate dehydration.

 

Foods to Avoid

 

If you’re in the bland or BRAT diet, it means you have to avoid foods that are known to irritate your compromised gastrointestinal system or cause increased bowel movement.  A good rule of thumb is to exclude these following food items in your diet for the meantime:

  • Dairy products such as cheese, milk, cream, and ice cream
  • Fried and fatty foods
  • Sugar-laden foods such as chocolates, sodas, candies, cakes, and cookies
  • Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and sorbitol
  • Certain veggies, such as cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli
  • All forms of beans
  • “Tough” proteins such as steak and pork
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Caffeinated beverages such as black tea, coffee, and cola drinks because of their diuretic effect
  • Spicy foods

appetizer

 

Is It Effective?

 

For decades, people with stomach illness have been compelled to follow the BRAT diet. However, recent clinical trials have failed to establish its effectiveness in treating or alleviating the symptoms of diarrhea or gastrointestinal illness. Some foods in the BRAT diet, particularly banana and rice, have shown to reduce the frequency and duration of diarrhea because they easily and gently pass through the digestive tract, which is extra sensitive during a bout of stomach flu.

For example, banana is rich in pectin, which is a starch that reduces stool and bowel movement, and potassium, a mineral or electrolyte that you lose during a bout of diarrhea. This fruit also helps with the absorption of water and is bland enough to pass easily through your compromised digestive tract.

Experts suggest that you can eat more foods than the BRAT diet dictates. The key is to stick to bland foods (low in fat, protein, and fiber) that are gentle on the stomach. Bland foods also have “binding” effects and so your stool firms up quicker.

Meanwhile, if your child has some type of stomach illness, the BRAT diet may still help alleviate his symptoms, although most experts suggest that he must continue to eat a variety of foods to help him meet his daily nutritional requirement for a quick recovery.

 

Sample BRAT Diet for Adults

 

First six hours of your illness: Six hours after your vomiting has stopped, it is ideal to give your stomach some time to rest.  Afterwards, you may suck on a popsicle or hard candy before you slowly progress to sipping water if your nausea persists.

Day one: If your vomiting has stopped, gradually add clear liquids such as chicken and vegetable broth, weak tea, flat soda, apple juice, and water. Ideally, sip or consume just a little amount at a time to prevent upsetting your compromised stomach. If your nausea or vomiting persists, avoid consuming anything for about an hour before you resume the process again.

Day two: Add bland, soft foods such as banana, rice, applesauce, saline crackers, jelly, and cooked cereals. You may also consider taking oral rehydration products.

Day three: At this point, you may gradually introduce “regular” foods that are still gentle on the stomach. Examples include hard-boiled eggs, white meat such as chicken and turkey, steamed or boiled vegetables, and sherbet.

Conclusion

 

While recent clinical studies attempting to prove the effectiveness of the BRAT diet are inconclusive, anecdotal reports show that for some people they do help alleviate gastric symptoms.  But as with any restrictive diet, it provides inadequate nutrition and calorie and so most experts only recommend sticking to this diet not longer than 48 hours, or at least add a variety of foods to make sure that you still get adequate nourishment.

This could be a great tool to get you functioning normally again, but it is not a permanent solution.

If you follow the BRAT diet in order to find relief from diarrhea, make sure that you also take more fluids (or more ideally oral rehydration products) to combat mild to moderate dehydration.

Meanwhile, visit your health care provider if your diarrhea lasts for more than three days, or if you develop symptoms of severe dehydration, such as reduced urine, lightheadedness, and sunken cheeks.

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