When diarrhea briefly occurs, it is usually because you ate something that doesn’t agree with you. It is the body’s way of expelling unwanted toxins. The problem arises when diarrhea is chronic. Here are some causes:
- infections: bacterial, viral, parasitic, fungal
- antibiotics: these can disrupt your good bacteria and cause intestinal upset
- foods: any that disagree with your digestive system: dairy is a common culprit
- stress - remember the complexity of the digestive system as a whole
A common dietary solution for acute diarrhea is the BRAT diet. It consists of bananas, rice, apples and toast. These foods tend to be binding for most people. You can experiment with this, but often when you have an acute episode of diarrhea you don’t feel hungry anyway. The most essential thing you can do is drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Most of us can easily distinguish a blip in our digestive system from one that is chronic. If your diarrhea results from something you ate or coincides with a virus of some sort, stay hydrated and let your intuition and appetite tell you what to eat as you are recovering.
As a nutritionist, I am a proponent of eating simple whole foods with a goal of eating this way 90% of the time. However, if you have a stomach bug, you may find the first thing you want to eat is a popsicle or a hot dog. Trust yourself and go for that: it may be that your blood sugar is low and your body is calling for some simple sugar (popsicle) , or your electrolytes are off balance and your body is calling for salt (hot dog).
If your diarrhea is chronic, you are at risk for dehydration as well as nutrient deficiencies. You should consult your physician for some testing for food allergies, low digestive flora or an infection. Remember too that dairy is a common culprit for digestive disorders. Cut dairy (milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt) out for 2 weeks and see if it makes a difference.
For stress induced diarrhea, use guided imagery to connect mind and body more productively. Make physical connections between your belly and your heart to slow you down by placing one hand on your belly and one on your heart, as you breathe slowly and deeply. My guided imagery and affirmations recording for managing stress is a useful tool for lowering your stress and related digestive issues.
Note: This post is based on observation and opinions of the author. It is not a replacement for medical care.