by Philemon kwizera, RN

According to WHO, in Southeast Asia and Africa, diarrhea is responsible for as much as 8.5% and 7.7% of all deaths respectively. In Africa, it has been estimated that every child has five episodes of diarrhea per year and that 800,000 children die each year from diarrhea and dehydration.

Diarrhea is the passage of loose or watery stools occurring three or more times in a 24 hour period.

There are three types of diarrhea:

  • Acute diarrhea lasts fewer than 14 days, causes dehydration  and contributes to malnutrition Mortality in the setting of acute diarrhea is usually due to dehydration. 
  • If the diarrhea lasts 14 days or more, it is classified as persistent diarrhea, which worsens malnutrition and increases risks for other infections. Dehydration can also occur in the setting of persistent diarrhea. 
  • Diarrhea with blood in the stool is called dysentery. Dysentery is very dangerous because of its ability to lead to anorexia, rapid weight loss, and damage to the intestinal mucosa which can lead to sepsis and death.

Diarrhea is the result of a disturbance in the mechanism that transports water and electrolytes in the small intestine. This results in more secretion than absorption, which causes an increased volume of water to enter the large intestine. The large intestine is not lined with microvilli to absorb the excess water, resulting in diarrhea

The human body requires a precise balance of water and electrolytes for normal function of our cells and organs. Common electrolytes are sodium and potassium.

The small intestine is lined with special cells called microvilli that absorb water, electrolytes, and nutrients. Normally, water and electrolytes are simultaneously absorbed and secreted with more absorption than secretion. This maintains normal fluid and electrolyte balance.

A number of factors are associated with increased transmission and risk of diarrhea:

  • Lack of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life
  • Using infant formula/unclean water
  • Use of unclean drinking water
  • Improper storage of food in warm environments
  • Failing to wash hands before handling food, after vomiting, after defecation, or after handling adult, infant, or animal feces
  • Failing to dispose of feces hygienically



As you recover from a bout of diarrhea, the best foods to start eating are easily digested, high carbohydrate foods. These include

  • Bananas

It is the only raw fruit which can be eaten without distress in chronic ulcer cases. It neutralizes the over-acidity of the gastric juices and reduces the irritation of the ulcer by coating the lining of the stomach.

  • Plain rice

Due to their low-fiber content, these starches are easily digested way up high in the GI tract

  • Boiled potatoes

Potatoes are easily digested way up high in the GI tract but avoid using oil or butter

has a high fat content, which could be irritating to your system and contribute to intestinal cramping.

  • White bread

White bread is soothing to a sore stomach and the starch in it works as a binding agent without the fiber that would

encourage elimination.

  • Yogurt

Yogurt contain the active probiotics such as a Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum and they appear to help to establish a healthier balance of bacteria in the digestive tract.

  • Cooked carrots

For people with diarrhea should be given carrot juice or carrot soup because The fiber contained in carrots can help alleviate the problem of the digestive system,

  • Baked chicken without the skin or fat

Due to its bland nature, steamed white meat chicken is an easily digested source of protein



Chewing too much sugar-free gum made with sorbitol has been found to cause diarrhea and cramping. Eating more than 50 grams of sorbitol a day may give you intestinal trouble. It’s not just gum, though — excessive amounts of any food made with this artificial sweetener might give you diarrhea. The reason: Our bodies can’t digest sorbitol.


Foods with a high fat content can speed up intestinal contractions and cause a reaction to a system that is already sensitized. Therefore, try not to eat anything that is greasy, fried, creamy, or covered in gravy.


Citrus fruit is high in fiber, it can cause intestinal distress for some people. Go easy on oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits if your digestion is feeling queasy.

Choose fruits with less than 1.5 grams of fiber per serving such as watermelon, mango and pineapple.


Foods high in fiber like whole grains, beans and vegetables such as cabbage and its cousin are good for digestion. But if you start eating lots of them, your digestive system may have trouble adjusting, resulting in gas and bloating.

A low fiber diet may help decrease cramps and gas, and may help you manage and control diarrhea. A low fiber diet contains less than 13 grams of fiber per day


Dairy products can trigger diarrhea, bloating, gas, and other intestinal distress. Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk products. When you have diarrhea, lactose may be hard to digest. You

may be able to handle foods with lactose better once diarrhea has resolved.


Caffeine may add to and increase the number of loose stools. To reduce caffeine in your diet choose

decaffeinated coffee, tea, and soft drinks.


Most herbs and spices can be used to add flavor to suit your tastes. You may not be able to handle spicy foods.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment