Gastroenteritis, commonly known as gastro, is a condition that causes inflammation of the stomach and intestinal tract, leading to symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and pain. While recovering from gastro, it’s essential to consume foods and beverages that are low in fat and fiber. Here are some dietary recommendations for gastro patients:
- Oral rehydration therapy: It is a type of fluid replacement containing sodium and potassium. It is the cornerstone of treatment for gastro, especially if you’re suffering from mild to moderate dehydration. You can buy oral rehydration solution from a pharmacy or make it by combining water, salts, and sugar. Diluted juice or lemonade (mixed as one part juice or lemonade with four parts water) can also be used, as can sports drinks, but not in young children.
- Bland foods: Eat small, light meals and build up from there. Bland foods such as crackers are typically recommended to avoid irritating the stomach. Chicken soup is often touted to aid recovery from gastroenteritis, among other illnesses. Keep in mind that chicken broth has high levels of sodium and can very occasionally result in high blood sodium levels and fluid overload. One popular diet recommended for people recovering from gastroenteritis is the BRAT diet, which stands for “bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast.” The bananas and rice portions of this diet are higher in fiber, leading to more solid stools and a decrease in the frequency of diarrhea. But a major disadvantage is that it does not supply a source of protein that the body needs during an acute illness.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are live microorganisms that are thought to be effective in the treatment and prevention of diarrhea. They alter the composition of gut microbes and can act against noxious gut pathogens. Probiotics have been found to have a moderate benefit in the treatment of infectious gastroenteritis in adults and children.
It’s good to avoid caffeine and alcohol for several days when recovering from gastro as these can worsen dehydration. However, you don’t need to restrict your diet. If you have gastroparesis (a condition where your stomach takes too long to empty its contents), your doctor may recommend that you eat or drink foods and beverages that are low in fat and easy to digest.
Please note that these dietary recommendations are general guidelines only. Consult your doctor or a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet.