The BRAT diet is often used as a treatment method for individuals suffering from digestive issues, such as diarrhea, vomiting or illnesses such as stomach flu. BRAT, as many may be aware, stands for banana, rice, applesauce, and toast.
The BRAT diet is thought to aid individuals with digestive issues due to the fact permissible foods are low in protein, fat, and fiber, making them more digestible for a weakened digestive system.
There are many benefits to using the BRAT diet as well as a few pitfalls. As with any dietary plan, individuals should first find out as much information to make sure the plan is right for them.
Purpose of The BRAT Diet
The purpose of the BRAT diet is to help individuals suffering from diarrhea, nausea and vomiting due to digestive issues or illness.
It is believed if an individual avoids foods that require the digestive system to work harder, such as meats and dairy high in fat and sugar, and only consuming foods that are easily digestible, the digestive system will begin to rebound and symptoms will be alleviated.
The BRAT diet is intended to make stools firmer because they are higher in starch and lower in fiber and decrease nausea due to the bland taste and lack of strong fragrances.
Food Permitted on The Diet
Food on the BRAT diet must be easily digestible in order to decrease stress on the digestive system. Most notably, individuals are encouraged to eat bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, as the name suggests.
However, food consumption does not have to be limited to these four items. Individuals who would like to add a bit more variety to their diet can add additional bland (odorless and tasteless) food items to their menu.
This can include crackers, plain potatoes, clear broths (chicken or vegetable), grilled or steamed chicken without the skin or fat, oatmeal (no sugar), and watermelon.
It is also very important to note individuals following this diet must drink lots of liquids, as vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Clear liquids such as water, apple juice, and weak tea are permitted on the BRAT diet.
Guide to Following the BRAT Diet
Individuals may find adhering to the BRAT Diet is easier on their stomach than simply jumping back into eating full meals after a period of vomiting or diarrhea. The most important thing to remember is food should be introduced slowly.
In the first six hours after vomiting or diarrhea has finally ceased, individuals should focus on sucking on appropriate hard candies or popsicles, and small sips of water or sports drinks to replace electrolytes.
Eating anything that must be chewed is discouraged. If the stomach is able to handle hard candy or a popsicle, after 24 hours clear liquids can be introduced slowly.
The individual should only consume clear liquids during this time and if their stomach seems able to handle it, they can add solid, bland foods to their diet. By day three if there are no other issues, individuals can begin eating their regular diet again.
Benefits and Downfalls of The Diet
As stated before, there are both benefits and downfalls of the diet. The primary benefit is it slowly reintroduces easily digestible food to the digestive system, increasing the likelihood that the individual will not have a negative reaction or return to vomiting or diarrhea.
It has been shown to decrease diarrhea by firming stools. The BRAT diet has also proven to be beneficial to the health of the digestive tract due to the pectin contained in bananas.
One of the primary downfalls of the diet is the fact it is extremely restrictive in regards to calories, vitamins, and fiber. Thus, it can lead to malnutrition, especially if individuals use it for longer than three days.
Due to the risk of malnutrition, the BRAT diet is typically not recommended for children suffering from diarrhea.
Final Verdict on The BRAT Diet
The BRAT diet has been used for decades as a method to treat nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It has been shown to have a positive effect in helping individuals with digestive issues reintroduce food to the body in a way that is less stressful on the digestive system and the body as a whole.
However, the primary drawback in regards to the restrictive nature of the diet means the BRAT diet is not healthy for everyone.
Using the BRAT diet is discouraged for children, and adults who are interested in using the diet to treat digestive issues are encouraged to speak with their physician first to make sure the diet is safe for them.