The BRAT diet is a bland diet that consists of foods that are low in fiber. Low-fiber foods were recommended as it was thought that foods high in fiber cause gas and possibly worsen gastrointestinal upset.
An acronym, BRAT is a mnemonic for bananas, rice, apple sauce, and toast, the staples of the diet. In addition to dietary restrictions, medical professionals recommended that all people, regardless of age, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, along with oral rehydration solutions to replace the depleted electrolytes to avoid salt imbalance. Severe, untreated salt imbalance can result in "extreme weakness, confusion, coma, or death."
The BRAT diet is no longer generally recommended. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that most children should continue a normal, age appropriate diet. The foods from the BRAT diet may be added, but should not replace normal, tolerated foods. Sugary drinks and carbonated beverages should be avoided. The BRAT diet is no longer routinely recommended by nutritionists at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) to patients who have had stem cell transplants and have diarrhea due to Graft-versus-host disease as long-term use can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Cultured foods, rice water, coconut water and soluble fiber foods/supplements are more effective at treating ongoing diarrhea in conjunction with tolerated foods and beverages.
Adding rice, bananas, or pectin to the diet during diarrhea may be beneficial, but Duro and Duggan point out that the BRAT diet is not nutritionally complete and may be deficient in energy, fat, protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and calcium. Duro and Duggan also say that food restriction does not benefit diarrhea and actually causes individuals to suffer from diarrhea for longer periods of time, based on randomized clinical trials.
Medical attention is required when on the BRAT diet if there is any blood or mucus present in the diarrhea, if the diarrhea is severe or if it lasts longer than 3 days.
Additionally, other medical professionals advise first aid treatment for gastroenteritis by briefly limiting the diet to bland, easy-to-digest foods and plenty of liquids (including oral rehydration therapy, e.g. oral pediatric electrolyte solutions sold at retail).
- King CK, Glass R, Bresee JS, Duggan C (November 2003). "Managing acute gastroenteritis among children: oral rehydration, maintenance, and nutritional therapy". MMWR Recomm Rep 52 (RR-16): 1–16. PMID 14627948.
- University Of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital. "BRAT diet: What is the BRAT diet?". Archived from the original on 20 February 2007. Retrieved 8 April 2007.
- Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN (July 24, 2000). "salt imbalance". Retrieved 8 April 2007.
- Essentials of pediatric nursing. p. 685. ISBN 0-7817-5115-2.
- Duro, Debora; Duggan, Christopher (June 2007). "The BRAT Diet for Acute Diarrhea in Children: Should It Be Used?" (PDF). Practical Gastroenterology. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Gastroenteritis: First aid - Mayoclinic.com". Retrieved 6 March 2011.