What is BRAT diet?

BRAT diet is an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast diet. It is often prescribed for when suffering from upset stomach, vomiting etc., since it is bland so is not jarring for the stomach. 

It is also low in proteins, fiber, and fat, making it easier for the stomach to digest the food. There are also certain extensions for the diet, which include BRATTY –bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, decaf tea, and yogurt, or BRATT diet, which includes bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and decaf tea. 

While many patients may be prescribed this diet for short-term relief from the stomach issues, its long-term impact is rather grim.

Therefore, if you are suffering from bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, or other stomach problems, confer with your Gastroenterologist and only follow their advice. 

Foods part of the BRAT diet 

Even though the acronym and its different spins include only certain foods, however, the diet can potentially include other items as well. The basic principle is using foods that are bland. 

These can then also include items like crackers, cooked cereal, broth, boil potatoes etc. Foods that are off-limits in this diet include dairy products, spicy foods, greasy and fried foods. 

Similarly, animal protein, raw vegetables, junk food, hot drinks and caffeinated beverages are also declared off-limits in this diet. 

Issues addressed by BRAT diet

People resort to the BRAT diet for various factors. Alleged benefits include:

Gentle on the stomach 

Since the diet is bland, therefore, it’s gentle on the stomach. Moreover, dairy and protein can be hard on the stomach, which are hence not part of the diet. Similarly, fat also causes stress to the digestive system, and is thoughtfully eliminated from the diet. 

Helps with nausea

Nausea can be aggravated with strong smell and taste. Since BRAT is bland, it therefore does not stimulate such a reaction from the body. Moreover, bananas also contain potassium, that helps in curbing the nausea. 

Helps firming the stools

People suffering from bouts of diarrhea take BRAT diet, under the assumption that the starch and fiber therein will help in making the stools firmer. 

Effectiveness of BRAT diet 

For something to be medically considered as effective, it needs to have substantial evidence. BRAT diet, unfortunately, is devoid of such clinical trials that can help in establishing its effectiveness. 

Some people do get better from it; whether its placebo or not is yet to be determined, however, there is no concrete evidence. However, there are benefits of the individual ingredients that are consumed in this diet. 

Bananas are a super food and are excellent for the body. They contain pectin, which is a type of starch that is good for the digestive health. Moreover, bananas help in improving the symptoms of constipation and diarrhea, both. 

Similarly, bananas are also a good source of potassium, that helps in water and electrolyte absorption. Since diarrhea poses the great risk of dehydration, therefore, the impact of bananas is an important one.

Moreover, rice soup has also shown to be effective treatment for children suffering from diarrhea, when supplemented with oral rehydration. 

However, you do not have to follow the BRAT diet to reap benefits from the bananas and rice. Eating diet that is restrictive may deprive body from certain nutrients, that help in curbing the symptoms of diarrhea otherwise. 

Is BRAT diet safe?

BRAT diet poses the risk of nutrient deficiency, that not only then has implications for the recovery of the patient, but their overall health as well. 

Doctors no longer recommend restrictive bland diets, as they do not allow the body to heal. Moreover, BRAT diet over long periods of time, poses the risk of malnutrition. 

Moreover, the diet fails to deliver the requisite calories, that can cause weakness, and exacerbate the condition of the patient. It is suggested that patients return to the normal diet, following checkup from their Gastroenterologist in Islamabad