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A liquid diet is a diet that mostly consists of liquids, or soft foods that melt at room temperature (such as gelatin and ice cream). A liquid diet usually helps provide sufficient hydration, helps maintain electrolyte balance, and is often prescribed for people when solid food diets are not recommended, such as for people who suffer with gastrointestinal illness or damage, or before or after certain types of medical tests or surgeries involving the mouth or the digestive tract.
Types of liquid diet
Clear liquid diet
A clear liquid diet consists of transparent liquid foods, and does not contain any solid particulates. This includes vegetable broth, bouillon (excepting any particulate dregs), clear fruit juices, clear fruit ices, clear gelatin desserts, and certain carbonated drinks such as ginger-ale and seltzer water. The colors red and purple are strongly discouraged as they can easily be mistaken for blood during an endoscopy or colonoscopy.
Full liquid diet
A full or strained liquid diet consists of both clear and opaque liquid foods with a smooth consistency, and not of red or purple color. It includes milk, milkshakes, cocoa, coffee, teas, plain ice cream (ice cream that does not contain pieces of fruit, chocolate, or candy), smooth plain milk or dark chocolate (allowed to melt in the mouth), certain custard desserts, gelatins and puddings absent of coconut or other inclusions or toppings, strained cream soups, fruit nectar with or without pulp, coconut water or coconut milk without pulp or bits of coconut flesh, smooth cooked cereal such as cream of wheat (oatmeal is best avoided due to it having a larger fiber content), butter, and honey. Water should mostly be consumed as thirst suggests, but is wholly non-nutritive unless it is vitamin-fortified. Due to this, doctors may prescribe vitamin supplements for patients who take this diet. Doctors may allow certain exceptions to components of a "soft" diet, such as for strained meats, sour cream, cottage cheese, ricotta, yogurt, mashed vegetables or fruits, etc.
Lactose-free liquid diet
A lactose-free diet is a liquid diet that is specialized in not having foods that may have milk or cheese in it. It is usually only prescribed to people who may be lactose intolerant. It only differs from a full liquid diet in that it usually omits ice cream (including sherbet, but not milk-free sorbet), yogurt, cheese, certain creams, and any pre-made/pre-packaged foods that may contain milk or cheese.
Low-fiber liquid diet
A low-fiber liquid diet is a diet that requires avoiding or lowering foods that may contain large amounts of fiber. This diet is usually used for people suffering from certain digestive problems such as Inflammatory bowel disease. Common foods omitted from this diet are cooked cereals (such as cream of wheat), oatmeal, and certain fruit or vegetable mushes.
There are a few controversies associated with these types of diets, one being that they may contain too little important food sources to provide adequate nutrient or caloric intake, and can not be used for a prolonged period of time. This is mostly associated with the lactose-free liquid diet, as it omits milk, a liquid high in calories, protein, and calcium. Another is that they may contain too little fiber, and could cause certain bowel disorders such as constipation. Liquid diets could also, in certain circumstances, provide electrolyte imbalances that could affect heart rhythm.
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- "Diet - full liquid: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia". www.nlm.nih.gov.
- "Liquid diets complete". www.vanderbilt.edu.