When a case of diarrhea has you running to the bathroom, you need to do two things: stave off dehydration and avoid anything that will make it worse.
What you can do for diarrhea
- It’s important to keep replacing your body’s supply of water and electrolytes, which include sodium, potassium and chloride. Mix up the perfect electrolyte drink by stirring a half-teaspoon of salt and four teaspoons of sugar into a litre of water. Add a little bit of orange juice, lemon juice or salt substitute for potassium. During the day, drink the full amount.
- Start by eating only foods that are see-through, like chicken broth and Jell-O. Broth is an especially good choice, since it supplies your body with water as well as electrolytes from the salt. Stick with these ‘clear foods’ for a day or two.
- Carrots are another soothing source of pectin. Cook some carrots until they’re soft, then drop them in a blender with a little water and puree into a baby-food consistency. Eat a quarter to a half-cup each hour,
- Eat yogurt containing ‘live cultures’ like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. These help to restore healthy levels of the helpful bacteria in your intestine.
- Spoil yourself with the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. All are bland and soothing, and the bananas and applesauce contain pectin, a type of soluble fibre that soaks up excess fluid in your intestine and slows down the passage of stool.
A natural boost for diarrhea
- Drink black tea sweetened with sugar. The hot water helps with rehydration and tea contains astringent tannins that help reduce intestinal inflammation.
- Tannin-rich blackberries have long been used as folk treatments. Make blackberry tea by boiling one or two tablespoons of blackberries or dried blackberry leaves in 1 1⁄2 cups water for 10 minutes, then strain. Drink a cup several times a day. Raspberry tea is also said to be effective.
- Capsules of dried goldenseal appear to kill many of the bacteria, such as E. coli, that cause diarrhea. The key compound in the herb is berberine. Take the capsules daily until the diarrhea improves.
- Ground-up psyllium seeds soak up excess fluid in the intestine, making stool bulkier. They are the key ingredient in Metamucil and in many other natural-fibre products. Take one to three tablespoons mixed in water each day.