What is the BRAT diet?

  • The BRAT diet is helpful for people with temporary stomach issues like diarrhea and stomach flu.
  • The diet includes foods that are bland and don’t have a strong smell.
  • The BRAT diet is not recommended to be used for the long-term. 

The BRAT diet helps treat stomach issues like stomach flu and diarrhea. BRAT diet includes low protein, fat, and fiber, which are easy to digest. However, following the diet for extended periods may cause some risks, including nutrient and calorie deficiencies.

If you want to try the BRAT diet to treat a temporary gastrointestinal (GI) issue, you should learn how to follow it safely and what foods you can eat when you have stomach trouble.

Components of the BRAT Diet

In the past, a low-fiber, easily digestible diet was recommended by medical experts for people who are recovering from an acute stomach illness with vomiting and/or diarrhea. An acronym was coined for people to easily remember a set of foods that might be helpful when they’re ill:

  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast

The acronym has also been extended with the addition of the following:

  • BRATT: With decaffeinated tea
  • BRATTY: With yogurt

These foods are believed to ease stomach issues because of these foods:

  • Don’t irritate the stomach. The foods are low-fat and low-protein, meaning they are gentle on the stomach and don’t stress the digestive system.
  • Produce firmer stools. The foods are low-starch and low-fiber, making stools less runny and watery.
  • Lessen nausea and vomiting. The foods are bland and don’t have strong smells, reducing nausea and vomiting. The foods also relieve symptoms.

Research on the BRAT Diet

While many people support the BRAT diet, there is little research on its risks and effectiveness. 

According to a 2010 study, children with diarrhea who ate green bananas recovered faster than those who did not. A 2016 study also found that a rice soup diet helped treat diarrhea in children.

Safety

Short-term use of the BRAT diet, less than 48 hours, is generally safe. However, using it for extended periods can cause harm because the diet does not provide adequate calories, protein, fat, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

The American Academy of Pediatrics no longer prescribes the diet for diarrhea management in children and suggests oral hydration therapies using rehydration drinks. 

In the case of vomiting, only consume solid foods after you’ve held down liquids for several hours without vomiting. 

Alternatives

You can try modifying the BRAT diet by adding other bland foods like clear broths, saltine crackers, and oatmeal. But for longer-term relief, you’ll need to eat a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Following a Bland Diet

Probiotics, like natural yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso soup, and fermented vegetables, are beneficial bacteria that may help shorten the course of diarrhea. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when recovering from your stomach illness and re-introducing solid foods into your diet. Besides water and tea, you may also try clear broth and electrolyte-containing drinks, like sports drinks.

What Not to Eat

Avoid the following foods when managing diarrhea and vomiting:

  • Spicy foods
  • Fatty foods, including fried, greasy, and junk foods
  • Beans and vegetables that cause gas, like broccoli and cauliflower
  • Heavy proteins, like pork, steak, and salmon
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Dairy
  • Sugary desserts

Your symptoms could also be a sign of something more severe than a BRAT diet could address. If this is the case, see your doctor, and ask for the right medications for your symptoms.

Source: Very Well Health


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