• The BRAT diet used to be a popular eating plan for children with an upset stomach.
    • However, the BRAT diet is no longer widely recommended because it's low in nutrients.
    • When recovering from a stomach bug, the most important factor is staying hydrated.

    If you or your child has ever had a stomach virus, you may have heard of – and implemented – the BRAT diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, which are supposed to be easy on the stomach and help relieve symptoms like nausea and diarrhea.

    However, the diet has fallen out of favor since it was first introduced and it may not be the best option anymore. Here's what you need to know.

    Kids and adults can try the BRAT diet

    The BRAT diet "has been around for about a century, and it was originally developed for pediatricians to give to kids to minimize the amount of diarrhea they have when they get acute intestinal illnesses," says David Cutler, MD , a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John's Health Center.  

    Though the diet was primarily invented for sick children, adults suffering from acute stomach problems can also use it to reduce their symptoms. But before starting yourself or your child on the BRAT diet, it's crucial that you know what's causing the symptoms in the first place.

    "[There are] many different causes of diarrhea and for some, a BRAT diet definitely would not be a good idea [like] if they have some infection going on, if they have some inflammatory condition in their intestines, or if they're having a dietary reaction," says Cutler. 

    The BRAT diet is safe short-term

    Let's say you've ruled out the other possible problems, and you're simply dealing with an acute viral intestinal illness like your run-of-the-mill gastroenteritis — like a stomach bug — that'll resolve in a couple of days. 

    To really recover from a stomach bug, experts believe that you need a full range of vitamins, nutrients, proteins, and healthy fats. The BRAT diet provides a small amount of nutrients like vitamin C in applesauce and fiber  and vitamin B-6 in bananas. But you'll be lacking other key nutrients including protein and healthy fats. 

    In fact, the BRAT diet isn't as popular or as endorsed by doctors as it once was. "It's been discovered over the years that it nutritionally is very deficient in a lot of things that kids need. So generally, it's fallen greatly out of favor to use," says Cutler. 

    Therefore, to get the full range of nutrition you'll want to re-introduce a normal balanced diet after one or two days of the BRAT diet to regain your health. 

    What's even more important than the BRAT diet 

    Since prolonged diarrhea and vomiting can be very dehydrating, the most important thing is staying hydrated by consuming lots of fluids.

    "The best way to treat diarrhea is simply to replace the fluid that you're losing in the diarrhea," says Cutler. 

    Drink lots of water and consider rehydration solutions such as low-sugar options like G2 or Pedialyte that contain fluids and electrolytes. Avoid high-sugar drinks like regular Gatorade or Powerade because the sugar may actually worsen diarrhea. Soup or plain broths are also good options that are soothing and rehydrating.

    "Most experts would now recommend that people just avoid foods that might be aggravating diarrhea, and to stay on a good healthy diet with fiber and protein and mono or polyunsaturated fats," says Cutler. 

    In addition to sugary drinks, other foods that may upset your stomach and exacerbate your symptoms may include dairy, greasy foods, and foods high in insoluble fiber like beans, nuts, and leafy greens.

    Insider's takeaway 

    The BRAT diet might be helpful short-term, but it's even more important to stay hydrated and avoid aggravating foods when trying to get better.

    Overall, the BRAT diet shouldn't be used for more than a couple of days, for either children or adults.

    Ashley Laderer is a freelance writer from New York who specializes in health and wellness. Follow her on Twitter  @ashladerer

    Read more Read less

    Why is the BRAT diet no longer recommended?
    Experts now say the BRAT diet may not be the best option for children who are ill. Because BRAT diet foods are low in fiber, protein, and fat, the diet lacks enough nutrition to help a child's gastrointestinal tract recover. more
    What is a modified BRAT diet?
    The BRAT diet stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Although some doctors think this diet may not markedly benefit patients, others recommend it for both adults and children for a day or two to make the transition from the resolving symptoms of acute gastroenteritis to the patient's previously normal diet. more
    What is toast in BRAT diet?
    Is the BRAT Diet Safe for Children? The BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) was once a staple of most pediatricians' recommendations for children with an upset stomach. The idea was that it gave the gut a chance to rest and reduced the amount of stool produced. more
    Is Tuna OK for BRAT diet?
    Safe food options include: Canned tuna packed in water, not oil. A small portion of lean chicken, turkey, or pork. more
    Does the AAP recommend the BRAT diet?
    The BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) was once a staple of most pediatricians' recommendations for children with an upset stomach. The idea was that it gave the gut a chance to rest and reduced the amount of stool produced. Experts now say the BRAT diet may not be the best option for children who are ill. more
    Is oatmeal OK on BRAT diet?
    Acceptable foods to eat on the BRAT diet are considered binding foods, meaning they're low in fiber and may stop diarrhea by firming up your stool ( 3, 4 ). Other bland foods include: crackers. cooked cereals, like oatmeal or cream of wheat. more
    What diet do nutritionists recommend?
    There are generally five food groups foods should stick to: New "meats", like tofu, lentils, and eggs; fruits and veggies; whole grains; dairy; and sugar and spice, which includes salad dressing and dried herbs. Counting points sounds tedious, but don't knock it 'til you try it. more
    Do UK vets recommend raw diet?
    You do need to know that the raw food you choose is good enough for your dog. In the UK, vets and owners can easily source complete and balanced ready-prepared frozen raw food meals, formulated to the same European standards as the other pet foods we find in our supermarkets and veterinary surgeries. more
    Is BRAT diet good for diarrhea?
    The BRAT diet consists of bland, low fiber foods and is often recommended for treating stomach issues, digestive illnesses, and diarrhea ( 1 , 2 ). Pediatricians have historically prescribed the BRAT diet for infants experiencing diarrhea ( 2 ). more
    Do doctors recommend Mediterranean diet?
    Study after study supports the diet's heart benefits, and an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults has demonstrated that following the Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant improvement in health, as well as a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality and overall mortality. more
    What has replaced the BRAT diet?
    The CRAM diet (cereal, rice, applesauce, and milk) is a short term dietary treatment for diarrhea and gastroenteritis. The CRAM diet has more complete protein and fat content than the BRAT diet. more

    Source: www.insider.com

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