BRAT diet is mild and easy to digest diet.
For decades it was for recommended for kids and grown ups with gastroenteritis, bowel infection which is know as stomach flu.
However, it is still under attack of critics because of the fact that it is too restrictive.
This article will go deeper to find out more about this diet and discover is it suitable for recovery after digestive system disease.
BRAT means bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. These are main ingredients which are used in this diet.
BRAT diet can also become BRATT and BRATY diet with addition of next ingredients:
- BRATT – adding tea
- BRATY – adding yogurt
It is recommended to start with BRAT diet 48 hours after person stopped vomiting.
BRAT diet was recommened for kids and grown ups. This is because it contains mild, easy to digest groceries which can help with sickness.
However, in recent times it is questioned whether it should be used for treating kids as it doesn’t have much nutritional value.
History Of BRAT Diet
It is believed that your digestive system should be spared after digestive diseases.
Until 80’s pediatritians used to recommend diet which should only be restricted to fluids for the first 48 hours if disease. Therefore adding easy to digest food later.
First mention of BRAT diet is from a certain report from 1926. Report described application of diet to kids with bowel diseases follow by strong diarrhea and dehydration.
Today many doctors think that this diet is the best way to go through diarrhea.
Despite large application for the last hundred years, there are unfortunately very little research on BRAT diet to confirm its efficiency.
What Can You Eat On The BRAT Diet?
As I already mentioned BRAT diet is very restrictive diet. However, it is important to eat clean foods which is soft for stomach.
This therefore means low fiber foods which can stop diarrhea by making your stool harder.
Here is a list I made for this diet.
Groceries which are allowed in BRAT diet:
- white rice
- white bread toast
- water, tea, juice
Groceries to avoid:
- all fruits except bananas
- nuts and seeds
- whole grain
- beans and legumes
- drinks with caffeine
- soda drinks
BRAT Diet Benefits
In addition to all that has already been said this diet has certain benefits.
It is made up of easy to digest groceries which will not harm your bowels and cause sickness during digestive diseases.
However, there are no studies which can confirm positive effects of this diet. In addition there are research about certain groceries in this diet which implicate that they help.
Bananas can work as binding means and show other effects agains diarrhea.
In one study which did side by side research on hospital patients, a group which was fed by grains of dried banana 57% didn’t have diarrhea on the end of research.
This goes against 24% of patients which were treated by medicine. This shows that bananas have large influence in treating diarrhea.
It is also noticed that green or unripe bananas are specially efficient in diarrhea prevention. Green bananas have resistant starch which ferment bacteria in your bowels into fatty acids with short chains.
Research have shown that these fatty acids increase capabilities of bowels to absorb water and nutrients. This in addition can be useful when organism is fighting diarrhea.
One of the doctos make several researches on children with diarrhea and came to a conclusion that adding green bananas into their diet reduces problems with diarrhea and fastened recovery.
Above all one of these studies was done on over 3000 children with acute diarrhea.
At the 80% of those who ate unripe bananas diarrhea passed in about 3 days. However, children that didn’t eat these bananas have percentage of 53%.
Rice also has a role in stopping diarrhea. Most of these studies watched effects of rehydration by fluids based on rice. In addition this dehydration was treated as consequence of diarrhea.
However this doesn’t have much influence with other diseases.
Why BRAT Diet Is Not Recommended?
Basic weak point for this diet is that it doesn’t provide adequate diet for people which are recovering from illness.
These people are already exhausted because of vomiting, diarrhea and weak appetite.
Above all this is especially worrying with children and old people. In addition there is a risk of under feeding and reappearing illness.
BRAT diet lacks protein, fats and other nutrients which are needed for good recovery.
In a study, researches studied nutritional system of usual diet of two year old comparing it with BRAT diet.
They came to next conclusion:
- Calories – 300 less with BRAT diet
- Proteins – 70% less
- Fats – 80% less
BRAT diet also shows significantly less intake than RDI for key nutrients which help recover:
- Vitamin A – 12% RDI
- B – 0% RDI
- Calcium – 12% RDI
However, this diet is recommended for not longer than two days. In addition research have shown that children were on this diet until diarrhea stopped which can be much longer period than two days.
Lack of nutritional value of BRAT diet is recognized by American Academy Of Pediatritians and European Assosiation Pediatric Gastroenterology.
These organisations now recommend that children should be on regular diet. However, this diet should be connected to their age.
This means cooked meat, yogurt, eggs, fruits and vegetables.
Alternative Strategies For Digestive Diseases
Here are couple of ideas which you can implement during and after digestive diseases instead of this diet.
Take probiotics or drink yogurt rich in probiotic bacteria. Certain probiotics can help in reducing diarrhea.
Intake prebiotics – fibers. Fibers are good for healthy gut flora. However, one of the studies have shown that diarrhea is cured much faster which used prebiotics.
Start with your regular diet as fast as you can. Food rich in protein, vitamin and minerals is needed for quick recovery. Add small amounts of meat, fish, eggs, yogurt and cooked vegetables.
Avoid foods which makes diarrhea worse. I am talking about milk, sugar, fried food, spicy food and caffeine drinks. You can add them to your diet step by step after couple of days.
In addition include BRAT groceries. Bananas and rice should be added into balanced diet which can help diarrhea go away. Bananas can also help recovery lost potassium as a consequence of vomiting and diarrhea.
Above all drink fluids rich in electrolytes. Bone, chicken or beef broth are good options to replace water and electrolytes.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration is a serious complication of diarrhea. Focusing on electrolytes is a great idea.
Best way to prevent dehydration is correctly done rehydration. In other words fluids intake.
When a child is ill parents like to give it all, however, most of the parents give their child juices or sodas. This is not good approach.
Above all because these drinks contain a lot of sugar which can make diarrhea last longer. This is why right choice for rehydration is very important.
In older times light food was always recommended with water, tea, bananas, rice, apples and toast. BRAT diet.
There are two phases of diarrhea.
First phase is for first two days of diarrhea. In this period it is recommened lighter diet which includes soups, rice, bananas, cooked potato and bread. Child should eat more often on every two hours if possible but eat smaller meals. In addition rehydration should always be used in between meals.
Phase number two is about enrichment of kids diet with foods that have high energy and nutritive value. Cereals, eggs, cheese and pasta.
Diarrhea is almost unavoidable for kids, however, if you have right approach you will get kids digestive system into balance really fast.
When To Seek Help?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have frequent and hard diarrhea. Your symptoms can be a sign of viral gastroenteritis which doesn’t need treatment.
However there are other problems which can cause similar symptoms and need treatment.
Above all these symptoms can be caused by:
- certain medicine
- food intolerance
- other questions which demand quick medical help
Even if you think you only have stomach pain you need to talk to your doctor. In addition if you have diarrhea for more that two days or you are dehydrated.
Symptoms of dehydration are:
- dry mouth
- reduced urination
- tiredness, weakness or vertigo
Above all you should also talk to your doctor if you have hard pain in your stomach or rectum, bloody or black stool, or temperature over 102.
However, when it comes to children or babies you should call your doctor if vomiting or diarrhea last for more than a day.