Our digestive system is greatly challenged thanks to the ever-widening menu of strange foods, colors, food chemicals, processing chemicals, additives, and preservatives. To add to this, we often eat irregularly, exercise very little, work late, sleep less, and are constantly stressed. It is no wonder that most of us have badly maintained digestive systems
, a reduced immune response
and increased susceptibility to digestive problems like diarrhea.
Diarrhea is in fact not a disease in itself. It is a symptom. It may be caused by any infection in the gastrointestinal tract transmitted through contaminated food and water or dietary factors such as faulty food preferences and specific allergies or even emotional factors such as stress and anxiety. The digestive system gets weakened due to dehydration in summer. This leads to low digestive power. This is further weakened by vitiation of doshas and dhatus due to high environmental temperature. Hence, following diets, that increase power of digestion and strengthen the digestive system would be beneficial to prevent and combat diarrhea during summers.
Acute Diarrhea is characterized by sudden onset and frequent passage of watery and unformed stools, usually accompanied with other symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramps, weakness, and at times, vomiting and fever. This episode may last for 24 to 48 hours and because of the danger of dehydration, replacement of water, and electrolyte attains prime importance. However, try to keep the fiber intake to a minimum (1 to 2 grams per day) to give rest to the intestines. The ideal source of cereals in the diet should be rice, semolina, boiled potatoes and pasta. Intake of fats should also be restricted as they might not get digested properly due to the intestine’s increased motility.
Tips to combat diarrhea
The main treatment of acute diarrhea would be to replenish the fluid and electrolyte loss. Although water is extremely important in preventing dehydration caused during diarrhea, it does not contain electrolytes. Thus, to compensate for the lost electrolytes, it’s advisable to have broth or soups, which contain sodium, and fruit juices, soft fruits like banana, chikoo, electrolyte replacement drinks or vegetables, which contain potassium. Depending on the cause of the problem, you might be prescribed a medicine to reduce symptoms or treat an infection. Children should ideally be provided with an oral rehydration solutions to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
Moreover, These guidelines should be followed:
- Do not eat solid foods.
- Avoid eating left-overs and stale food during summers to prevent upsetting your stomach.
- Watch your plate and steer clear of raw or uncooked foods such as cut salads and cold cuts, especially the ones served in roadside stalls. Avoid chutneys, mawa sweets, paani puri, and bhel puri since the hot temperature renders these places as a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. It would be best to rely on freshly prepared food at good clean eating joints, when you are eating out during summers.
- Replace water with electrolytes.
- Make sure you drink clean filtered boiled and cooled water.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly, particularly leafy ones and cauliflower, which not only contain larvae and worms but also collect dirt from the streets.
- Eat moderate quantities of food as the body finds it harder to digest food during the summers.
- Include naturally sour food (not fermented) such as tamarind, tomato, lime, thin buttermilk, and kokum in your diet, in soups, saars, dals and vegetables.
- Moong dal is easy to digest and so are fluids such as coconut water, buttermilk, rice water, cooked carrots, chicken stew, or whey water.
- Garlic, pepper, ginger, asafoetida, sonth, turmeric, coriander, and jeera enhance your body’s digestive power and improve immunity. Thus, use them liberally in your recipes during summers.
- Vegetables recommended are: bhindi, dudhi, parwal, suran, roasted baingan, and karela and choose fruits that are high in water content such as watermelon, muskmelon, oranges, and sweet lime.
- Herb teas made from peppermint leaves are very helpful in combating indigestion. Just dip the tea bag in hot water and sip it after meals.
- Non-vegetarians should go in for lighter meat preparations such as soups and stews rather than heavy curries. Overall, astringent, mildly bitter and mildly pungent foods work best.
- Avoid dairy products such as milk and paneer. However, skimmed milk curd is recommended as it is rich in beneficial bacteria.
- Supplementation with lactobacillus acidophilus is much needed in the treatment of diarrhea.
These remedies are usually effective if combined with correct eating habits while avoiding stimulants such as tobacco and caffeine.
Remember that diarrhea is a temporary event and can be avoided easily with a little bit of caution.