Can you eat oatmeal when you have diarrhea?
In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can you eat oatmeal when you have diarrhea?”. We will also elaborate on the signs and symptoms of diarrhea, can we consume oatmeal during the diarrhea, and what other foods we should eat during diarrhea.
Can you eat oatmeal when you have diarrhea?
Yes, you can eat oatmeal when you are suffering from diarrhea. If you have severe diarrhea then you should avoid eating or drinking dairy products including milk, yogurt etc. for a few days. You should focus on eating those products which are manufactured from refined white flour. However, it is not recommended to totally avoid fiber, rather low fiber foods should be consumed (1).
Products such as white rice, pasta, and cereals such as farina, cornflakes, cream of wheat, and oatmeal are all safe to eat.
What is diarrhea?
Diarrhea is defined as the movement of the bowel which is more in liquid form than a solid, loose stool, or having a loose texture. It is one of the most common diseases that could happen more than one time each year. Diarrhea can not be sustained for more than 3 days. Clinically, diarrhea is defined as the passage of three or more abnormally loose or watery stools per 24 hours, but is different in the case of breastfed infants. Dysentery is usually defined as diarrhea characterized by the presence of visible blood in the stools, which is usually associated with abdominal cramps and fever (2).
More commonly, it is found in those people who are suffering from chronic digestive conditions like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The patient with the above-mentioned diseases would experience more frequent diarrhea than a common person.
Diarrhea may occur for varied reasons; however, most episodes of diarrhea in developing countries are infectious in origin. Diarrhea is not only associated with loose or runny stool conditions but it could also relate to other symptoms (2).
- Sometimes diarrhea is also associated with nausea and cramps in different body parts.
- The person could also suffer from fever
- The patient could also feel a bubbly sensation in his intestine
- He will, again and again, feel an urgent need for bowel movement
- Abdominal pain and bloating also happen in diarrhea.
- Sometimes vomiting could also occur as a result of diarrhea.
For a person who is suffering from diarrhea, his diet should be observed critically because diarrhea causes the loss of many of the significant nutrients, causing the patient to feel weak. Diarrhea ensues when the volume of liquids delivered to the large intestine exceeds the absorptive capacity of the colon and therefore rehydration therapy is the key to management of diarrhea (2).
Some foods are specifically recommended by the physician to relieve diarrhea while other foods can further enhance diarrhea. So, choose wisely what you are eating. Besides, grading diet during diarrhea, starting with one-fourth strength and gradually moving up to full strength is unnecessary and fasting during diarrhea has been shown to impair the ability of the small intestine to absorb a variety of nutrients (2).
Foods to eat during diarrhea
Patients are suggested to consume bland foods in diarrhea because the fried or spicy food can create more complexity in the diarrhoeal condition that could even lead to death. Spicy food products can also irritate the bowels. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided during diarrhea episodes as well as artificial sweeteners, fatty foods and high fiber vegetables, such as cabbage and legumes (1).
Some of the bland foods which could help against diarrhea are (1):
- Hot cereals such as cream of wheat, rice porridge, and oatmeal.
- Bread or toast
- Apple sauce
- Boiled potatoes.
- Yogurt (if you are lactose intolerant, may want to avoid)
- Cream of wheat
- Lean meats
Include prebiotics and pectin in the diet. Probiotics may help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. They are found in yogurts that contain Live Active Cultures such as lactobacillus acidophilus. Pectin is a form of fiber found in fruits and some vegetables that may slow the movement of stool in your intestines. It is also sold as a powder in grocery stores. You can find this in the aisle with pudding and gelatin. To help with diarrhea, mix 1 tablespoon of pectin powder with ¼ cup of lemon water and drink it 20–30 minutes before a meal (1).
Some tips that you should follow during diarrhea
Focus on liquid first
Don’t be so quick to prepare an oatmeal bowl during diarrhea, firstly you should focus on the cure of the illness that will be recovered by drinking liquids such as mild tea, apple juice, water, and broth which will help the body system to get out of worse state and will also help relax your body.
A rehydration treatment is needed to restore the initial fluid deficit and replace ongoing stool-related fluid losses until the diarrhea stops. In most patients this can be done with the use of standard oral rehydration solutions, the formulation of which has recently been recommended by WHO (World Health Organization): sodium 75 mmol/L, potassium 20 mmol/L, chlorine 65 mmol/L, citrate 10 mmol/L and glucose 75 mmol/L. Equalyte®, Pedialyte® are examples of such formula (1).
These liquids will also provide hydration which is significant in the replacement of water that you have lost through diarrhea. You should just make your diet plan covering all these liquids for 24 hours if the condition of diarrhea is critical.
Gradually add oatmeal
After taking liquids for 24 hours, you should then be inclined towards the oatmeal preparation gradually.
Prepare the oatmeal just by sweetening the oats, avoid the addition of milk if you can not digest the lactose.
Oatmeal is one of the good components of the diet not because of its bland flavor and taste but due to the presence of high fibrous content.
Oatmeal consists of a high content of soluble fiber which will absorb the extra water content from the gastrointestinal tract. That absorption of water will lead you towards the hardening of the stool.
Oat contains 30 to 70 g per kg.5 Due beta-glucans, a soluble fiber. To the property of beta-glucans to form viscous gels, which protects the mucosal membrane from the irritation caused by digestive enzymes or potentially toxic factors in the digestive tract content. In addition, water-soluble beta-glucans have probiotic properties and may regulate both the microbial profile and the short chain fatty acid content of the stool. Therefore, oat beta-glucans play a pivotal role in the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases, including gastric mucositis and diarrhea, as well as in relieving ulcerative disorders (3).
The health benefits of oatmeal
Oatmeal consumption during diarrhea can calm your body system by absorbing water. In addition, it also has many other health benefits which nourish the body organs in many ways.
For instance, oatmeal is also enriched with high fiber and protein content that provides a high feeling of fulfillment and enhances the time of hunger.
Oatmeal consumption also represses the cravings for snacks between meals.
Oats are also a low-glycemic food that means they could not increase the glucose level instantly in the body. So, oats will lead towards the lowering of blood sugar which will result in hunger.
Studies show that beta-glucans derived from oats were demonstrated to promote normal blood glucose levels, significantly reduce the blood levels of LDL and VLDL cholesterol, as well as actively take part in the prevention of cardiovascular disorders and the reduction of insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients. 5 In addition, animal studies revealed that the use of beta-glucan supplementation enhances the immune system (3).
The fibrous content of oatmeal also regulated bowel functioning.
Other FAQs about Oatmeal that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat oatmeal when you have diarrhea?”. We have also elaborated on the signs and symptoms of diarrhea, can we consume oatmeal during the diarrhea, and what other foods we should eat during diarrhea.
- Alam, N.H., Ashraf, H. Treatment of Infectious Diarrhea in Children. Pediatr-Drugs, 2003, 5, 151–165.
- Bonci, L. Diet Strategies for Managing Chronic Diarrhea. 2022. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders.
- Wilczak, Jacek, et al. The effect of low or high molecular weight oat beta-glucans on the inflammatory and oxidative stress status in the colon of rats with LPS-induced enteritis. Food Funct, 2015, 6, 590-603.