Saturday, July 23, 2005

Diarrhea: Using Water to Get to the Root of the Problem

Diarrhea (like constipation, which I’ll soon) is one of those embarrassing problems that most people don’t like to talk about, but which we all suffer from from time to time. And diarrhea is not only a problem because of the discomfort it brings (which can be considerable) but also because of the damage that prolonged diarrhea can cause.

The damage I’m talking about is that in diarrhea your body loses minerals: particularly potassium. And while a day or 2 of the problem won’t cause any long-term damage, prolonged diarrhea can leave your body depleted of potassium and other minerals you need.

Diarrhea is -- quite simply -- loose, watery bowel movements. It doesn’t mean more frequent bowel movements, but only ones that are loose and runny. There’s often discomfort involved with diarrhea, too.

There are several causes of the problem. Probably the most frequent is that you’ve got some bacteria in your system, and your body is trying to get rid of it. Other causes can be spicy foods, or it can be a temporary side effect of some medicines.

If you begin having diarrhea, your body will probably need a rest, both physically and digestively. Slow down on your regular diet. This will allow the body to sort out whatever is causing the problem. Begin by drinking 2 glasses of water every time you have loose stools.

This sounds crazy to most people, since they are trying to cure the loose bowel movements, and they think (rightly so) that this will only make them worse. Well, it will, but only temporarily. And what it will do is allow your body to get rid of whatever is upsetting your system. (Remember, I’m a big fan of dealing with the problem itself, and not necessarily with the symptoms).

In addition to drinking the 2 glasses, eat bland, non-stressful foods. Ripe bananas are particularly good. In addition to providing bulk and fiber for your system, a ripe banana provides ample amounts of potassium, which is what your body is needing. Yogurt is good, too, but make sure your yogurt has active yogurt cultures. (If it’s homemade, it definitely does. If store bought, it should have “active yogurt cultures” on the label). Yogurt is milk cultured with a gut-friendly bacteria, and the bacteria help to replenish the bacteria your body normally has -- and needs.

Your body has lots of friendly bacteria in your intestines. You need those bacteria to keep you in good health, as well as to help you digest foods. When you’ve suffered from diarrhea, your body may excrete some of those bacteria. So use yogurt to help get some back in there!

But the water is the main thing you need. The water will help the body flush the bad stuff (whatever it is) out. You’ll probably feel tired and need more rest when you’ve suffered from diarrhea. But keep drinking, eat lightly, sleep a bit more, and you’ll be better quickly.


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