Diarrhea is any attack of frequent, watery stools.
Diarrhea can be triggered by many different conditions. Acute diarrhea is often caused by an infection and
may require medical management. The primary role of nutrition in acute diarrhea is to prevent depletion of
fluid, sodium, potassium, and calories. Replenishment of all four has
been achieved with “rehydration solutions” and with a variety of foods, from salted carrot soup to peeled scraped apple to
rice gruel. However, diarrhea severe enough to necessitate the use of
rehydration solutions requires direct medical supervision. Therefore, nutritional approaches to overcoming
depletion of fluid, sodium, potassium, and calories are not discussed here, but rather should be discussed
with a doctor. Diarrhea-induced low blood sugar, dehydration, or
electrolyte imbalance can be serious or even life-threatening, particularly if prolonged in children.
A healthcare provider should be consulted if diarrhea continues for more than a few days, as it may
indicate a more serious health condition. Diarrhea alternating with constipation may be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).