The BRAT diet is commonly used as a short term dietary treatment for diarrhea, gastroenteritis and some incidences of food poisoning. The name BRAT is an acronym for: Bananas - Rice - Applesauce - Toast. Although an oral rehydration solution or other liquids are usually given to the patient immediately the diarrhea or gastroenteritis starts (to prevent dehydration), a BRAT-type diet is usually administered after about 24 hours, once vomiting has stopped and they are able to eat. See also Cram Diet.
BRAT Diet: Bland Foods Low in Fiber
BRAT diet foods are used because they are a combination of bland, low dietary fiber foods which provide energy without gastric irritation.
BRAT Diet: How It Works
The bananas provide potassium, a vital mineral for controlling the body's fluid balance - while boiled rice and toast provide low-fiber carbohydrate that doesn't irritate the bowel. The applesauce supposedly has a cleansing effect on the digestive system. Some alternative BRAT-type diet foods include: vegetable or fruit juices (except prune juice) cooked cereals, crackers and pasta.
BRAT Diet: Fluids Needed
Due to severe fluid loss which characterises both diarrhea and gastroenteritis, the BRAT eating plan is accompanied by oral rehydration therapy (ORT) through the administration of liquids (eg. caffeine-free soda, juice) or food-based fluids (such as broth or gruels), to prevent dehydration.
BRAT Dietary Management Tool
Even though no clinical trials have been conducted to assess its effectiveness, the BRAT diet is a traditional dietary-management tool used in many pediatric practices in the United States.
That said, the BRAT diet is merely a short term holding measure (approx 24-36 hours), rather than a specific diet plan. Generally speaking, the sooner the affected patient is able to resume more normal eating and full nutritional intake, the better.
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