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BRAT Diet- List, Efficacy, Alternatives, Safety, and More

BRAT abbreviates Banana, Applesauce, Rice and Toast which are the food that is prescribed by a physician and a dietitian during and following a stomach ailment. The blandness and lightness of these foods help in relieving an upset stomach ore recover from food poisoning. BRAT Diet is highly recommended if a person is found to face nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

BRAT Diet

If you are suffering from an upset stomach or diarrhoea symptoms, the first thing you will be prescribed is a BRAT diet. But do not start the diet right away. It is advisable to abstain from the intake of any food in the first six hours of the arousal of symptoms. You must wait till diarrhoea or the vomiting subsides; and after it, you can cool your stomach down by sucking on ice chips and popsicles. Continue taking sips of cool water, sports drinks, and similar kind of liquid. Through these, the electrolyte level of your body is expected to come back to normal. Within the first day, you should include liquids back into your diets, such as apple juice, chicken or vegetable broth, and water. In case you feel sick again, abstain from having the liquids for two hours, rest, and start again.

BRAT diets are generally started after twenty-four hours. Since it being very less nutritious, it is not recommended for a long time altogether. On the third day, put normal cooked meals into your diet. You can start with eggs, cooked fruits and vegetables, and chicken or turkey. The normal diet, however, depends on your body’s capability to receive a variety of foods so soon. Some reported falling sick after eating a lot of variety, whereas others felt as healthy as a horse.

While you follow the BRAT diet, make sure that you stay away from the following foods:

  • Dairy products
  • Fried, spicy, and fatty foods
  • Steak, pork, salmon, sardines, and other protein-rich foods
  • Vegetables such as carrots, salad greens, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Fresh fruits like apple, orange, tomato, grapefruit, and pineapple
  • Hot and cold beverages
  • Drinks containing caffeine
  • Alcohol

Does BRAT Diet work?

Even though the BRAT diet has been famous among the dietitians and physicians, who extensively prescribe it to patients suffering from diarrhoea or nausea, but recently AAP or American Academy of Pediatrics have stopped from recommending the diet for children or infants. Since the diet does not provide the body with much nutrients like micro and macronutrients, and proteins.

Various studies have been conducted over these key ingredients of the diet which revealed that banana contains a starch form called pectin which proved to be extremely advantageous for our digestive tract. A combination of rice and banana reduced the symptom of vomiting by 59 percent. This combination also required less amount of intravenous fluid.

A study conducted in 1998 revealed when toddlers were put on an extensive BRAT diet for two weeks, they suffered from malnutrition and other medical conditions. After this study, AAP initiated the prescription of putting an infant or a child on a normalised diet when they feel okay. For adults, BRAT diet was effective, and it is just they were not prescribed for long time use.

The aim to recover involves returning to a normal and balanced diet when possible. One is required to ingest balanced food even if your symptoms remain, otherwise you will run a risk of suffering from malnutrition.

If you suffer from persistent diarrhoea, make sure to consult your doctor as you might be suffering from a severe form of stomach ailment called viral gastroenteritis. However, this disease usually does not need any form of medication and tend to go away by itself.

Diarrhoea caused by the following agents might need medical treatment though:

  • Parasite
  • Bacterial infection or shigellosis
  • Colitis or inflammation of the colon
  • Overdose of caffeine
  • coli infection in the intestine
  • Stomach flu
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS
  • Particular medication
  • Intolerances of food
  • Other anomalies that might need immediate medication
  • Viral infection
  • Food allergy
  • Intestinal infection or giardiasis
  • Surgery was done on gallbladder or stomach
  • Ulcerative colitis or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Abnormal reaction to the intake of gluten or gluten intolerance or celiac disease
  • Incapability of absorption by the intestine or malabsorption syndrome
  • Lactose intolerance

Diarrhoea or similar kinds of ailments tend to make us dehydrated due to the heightened loss of fluid from our body. The symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Thirst
  • Less urination
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry buccal cavity

Contact your physician if you are also suffering from a fever over 102 F, black and bloody stools, and unbearable abdominal or rectal pain. In the case of infants, you should immediately look for medical care if diarrhoea remains for just a day.

Alternatives to BRAT Diet

Other treatments that can help you in achieving faster recovery are given as follows:

  • Proper hydration: keep your body properly hydrated by supplying it with the required electrolyte. Diarrhoea causes extreme dehydration due to the outflow of fluids from the body, which if not rectified, can cause severe dehydration. Try the over the counter medicated electrolyte drinks and popsicles for a cure.
  • Avoid particular foods: you should not indulge in consuming spicy, fatty, and fried food and also should aim to stay away from the junk food joints. Abstain from the consumption of caffeine and alcohol too as they might cause the reemergence of the symptoms.
  • Anti-diarrheal medications: ask your physician before going for the anti-diarrheal medications as they are found to because of masking of the underlying causes of diarrhoea. Moreover, they are also not suitable for diarrhoea caused by bacteria and parasites.
  • Probiotics: feed your intestine a dose of healthy bacteria in the shape of probiotic capsules or syrup as it may recover your intestinal and bodily health. You can also eat fermented foods as they contain probiotics in them, such as yogurt and kombucha.
  • Prebiotics: Prebiotics have found to be useful as it feeds the gut bacteria. You can consume fibres like Jerusalem artichoke, bananas, oats, berries, legumes, garlic, onions, and chicory roots.

Brat Diet- Is it Safe?

The BRAT diet is seen to be harmless if taken in for two days, but prolonged use of this diet has led to the occurrence of malnutrition and other medical issues. A BRAT diet does not consist of the nutrients required by our body, and this is why it raises the risk of malnutrition and low energy level. Our body requires a proper amount of calories, proteins, fats, fibres, vitamins, and calcium, and BRAT is limited in these.

How does BRAT work?

BRAT diet, if consumed for a limited time and restriction causes the relief from an upset stomach as well as diarrhoea. Being highly enriched with starch and fibres, this diet helps in the prevention of runny and loose excretion. As it is not protein or fat-rich food, the digestion of it causes less stress on our stomach. Moreover, since the ingredients of this diet are not strong smelling, and portrays a bland and light flavour, it does not make a person nauseous nor cause vomiting.

A stomach can suffer from various agents including high intake of junk food, improper water consumption, other ailments causing an upsetting feeling, and so on; but the BRAT diet has been found to save the day in most cases. Instead, one can also consume some other food items which are equally bland and light like BRAT. Consider the following food items if you are tired of surviving on the BRAT diet during these times:

  • Cereals properly cooked
  • Weak tea
  • Apple juice
  • Flat soda
  • Crackers
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Broth and light soup

Other Foods to treat Diarrhoea

As mentioned in this article, BRAT should not be used for a long period, and this is why there is a list of food given below that also helps in healing the symptoms of diarrhoea, or other stomach related ailments:

  • Bone Broth
  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Root vegetable juice, such as carrot juice
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yoghurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint oil
  • A lot of water

 

However, eating healthy foods and maintaining a good water intake habit is the preferable way to prevent the occurrence of diarrhoea and upset stomach. As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”, it is a wise decision and choice to maintain a balanced diet packed with nutritious food items instead of spending money in medications or suffering from something which is hard to walk through. However, if you still end up with an upset stomach, do consult your doctor for a checkup and go according to the medications or BRAT diet as prescribed.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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