The BRAT diet is recommended for treating stomach flu , diarrhea , and other stomach problems. The foods included in the BRAT diet are low in protein, fat, and fiber, making them easier to digest. While this diet is beneficial for a short period of time, there are risks associated with following it for a long period of time, including nutritional and caloric deficiencies.
If your healthcare provider has recommended the BRAT diet for you, or if you want to try it to alleviate a temporary gastrointestinal (GI) problem, it is important that you learn to follow it safely and know what alternatives you can eat when you have stomach problems.
Components of the BRAT diet
Previous medical practice has recommended a low fiber, easily digestible diet for people recovering from acute stomach illnesses, such as vomiting and / or diarrhea. The acronym was coined to remind people of the bland food set that they can best tolerate during their illness:
- R ice
- Mashed potatoes
The BRAT diet has also been expanded to the BRATTY diet with the addition of the following:
- BRATT: Add decaffeinated tea.
- BRATTI: Add yogurt.
The BRAT diet is believed to relieve stomach problems because foods:
- They are gentle on the stomach . The foods included are low in fat and protein, which means they are less likely to irritate the stomach and stress the digestive system.
- Make your stools harder . The diet includes foods low in starch and fiber, which prevents loose and liquid stools.
- Reduces nausea and vomiting . Because the foods in the diet are tasteless and odorless, the diet reduces nausea and vomiting . In addition, it offers relief from symptoms.
BRAT diet study
While the BRAT diet is popular and informal, there is surprisingly little research on its efficacy and risks.
Some limited research suggests that bananas and rice can help reduce symptoms of diarrhea. A 2010 study found that children with diarrhea who ate a diet supplemented with green bananas recovered faster than children who did not. A 2016 study found that a congee diet is effective in treating diarrhea in children .
Using the BRAT diet for short periods of time, usually less than 48 hours, is unlikely to cause harm. However, long-term use of the BRAT diet can be dangerous because the diet does not contain enough calories, protein, fat, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends a diet to treat diarrhea in children and instead insists on oral hydration therapy with rehydration drinks.
If you are vomiting, only introduce solid foods after you can retain fluid for several hours without vomiting.
It might be worth changing that and adding other bland foods to your diet, including clear broths, crackers, and oatmeal. However, for long-term relief, you should make sure to eat a balance of healthy protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Good bacteria called probiotics can help shorten the course of diarrhea. Plain yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso soup, and fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut) are great options.
As you recover from stomach symptoms and reintroduce solid foods into your diet, maintaining a high level of hydration is also important. In addition to drinking water and tea, clear broths and beverages that contain electrolytes, such as sports drinks, are also helpful.
What not to eat
During diarrhea and vomiting, pay attention to all the foods you eat. Avoid the following foods:
- The spicy food
- Fatty foods, including fried foods, fatty foods, and unhealthy foods.
- Dairy products
- Sweet desserts
- Gas-inducing beans and vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower (especially raw).
- Heavy proteins, including pork, steak, and salmon.
Get the word of drug information
While following the BRAT diet can be beneficial, there are times when your symptoms may be a sign of something that needs more attention than a change in how you eat. Know when to visit your doctor (if not the first time, then again) and be sure to get their consent before taking any diarrhea medication. In some cases, these treatments can make your symptoms worse.