Now onto my third and final installment of this series. Today, we will finish our talk on bowel movements with no body’s favourite topic, diarrhea. As I talked in my previous posts in this series, there are different misconceptions about what is considered to be a “normal” bowel movement.
Diarrhea is considered to be loose, watery stools three or more times per day. Diarrhea can be either acute (short term), persistent or chronic (lasts longer than 4 weeks). Acute diarrhea is quite a common problem.
Some of the dangers of not getting your bowel movements checked out, if you have diarrhea, are dehydration and malabsorption. Dehydration happens when your body lacks enough fluid and electrolytes to maintain balance. When you have diarrhea, you end up losing more fluid and electrolytes when compared to having “regular/normal” bowel movements.
Malabsorption can also happen; this happens when the body does not absorb enough nutrients from what we eat/drink. There are some conditions, like infections, food allergies/intolerances and some digestive problems.
How do you treat it? Usually, if your bout of diarrhea lasts for 4 days or less, there really isn’t much that your doctor can do. You can use over-the-counter aids and/or follow the BRATT diet for a few days. This consists of bananas, rice (white), applesauce, tea and toast. These foods can help slow down the transit time and help solidify your stool in the short term. Also, ensuring that you remain hydrated, this means enough water intake as well as electrolytes too! But if it lasts longer and/or you have other symptoms such as bloody stools, fever or even signs of an infection, then I recommend going to see your doctor. If it is in fact chronic, then we must determine the cause before knowing how to properly treat it. Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and/or ulcerative colitis – three common gut disorders are also known to cause diarrhea.
Probiotics have been shown to help prevent and even treat some causes of diarrhea. There has been a large amount of research done on these lovely microorganisms, helping us determine which strain and species of probiotics can help with which type of gut disorder you may have. It is always recommended to talk to a healthcare provider first before taking probiotics. As not all will help and it isn’t recommended to take them for long periods of time. If you are interested in helping create a healthy gut microbiome, consider adding some fermented foods and/or prebiotic foods to your daily diet. Check here for a previous article I wrote on fermented foods.
Lastly, if you do end up with diarrhea, foods that are recommended to avoid as they can make it worse are: alcoholic beverages, caffeine, dairy products, fatty greasy foods, drinks and high fructose like fruits such as apples, peaches and pears, spicy foods and diet drinks/sugarless gum, candies containing sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol.
I need to repeat, if you have diarrhea for 4 days or more, then please go see your doctor, as this is not meant to be medical advice but to educate you :)
I work as a Dietitian and definitely walk the talk. I love to cook and help people get back to being healthy again.