Diarrhea can be an uncomfortable and inconvenient condition that many people experience from time to time. While staying hydrated is important when you have diarrhea, knowing what fluids are best to drink can be confusing. Fruit juices are a popular choice for hydration, but not all juices are created equal when it comes to diarrhea. This article explores which fruit juices are most effective for helping with diarrhea symptoms.
What Causes Diarrhea?
Before looking at the best fruit juices for diarrhea, it helps to understand what causes diarrhea in the first place. Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual. It is often caused by:
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Parasitic infections
- Food poisoning
- Reaction to medications
- Diseases affecting the intestines
- Food allergies or intolerances
- Stress and anxiety
When you have diarrhea, your bowel movements become very loose because too much water is being secreted into the intestines. This prevents the colon from absorbing water from the stool, leading to the characteristic watery diarrhea many of us are familiar with.
Why Fruit Juices for Diarrhea?
Drinking fruit juices when you have diarrhea can help you stay hydrated and replace lost fluids and electrolytes. Here are some of the key reasons fruit juice can be beneficial:
- Prevents dehydration: Dehydration is a risk with diarrhea, so sipping fluids throughout the day is vital.
- Provides glucose: The sugar in fruit juice provides fast energy when you have diarrhea and may be eating less.
- Supplies electrolytes: Electrolytes like potassium are lost through diarrhea and juices can help replenish them.
- Easily digestible: Juices contain mostly water and simple sugars, making them gentle on the digestive system.
With these benefits in mind, let’s look at some of the best fruit juice options when trying to cope with diarrhea.
Best Fruit Juices for Diarrhea
1. Coconut Water
Coconut water has exploded in popularity in recent years as a refreshing low-calorie drink. But it also makes a great choice when dealing with diarrhea due to its unique composition:
- Isotonic – coconut water has a similar electrolyte balance to human blood plasma.
- High in potassium – contains more potassium than a banana per cup.
- Low in sugar – contains just 6 grams of sugar per cup.
- Low in fat and calories
- High in antioxidants
- Natural source of hydration
This makes coconut water an ideal rehydrating and electrolyte-replacing beverage when you have diarrhea. Start sipping coconut water when diarrhea symptoms first begin and keep some on hand to stay hydrated throughout the day.
2. Watermelon Juice
Watermelon juice is another great option for diarrhea. Here’s why:
- 92% water – excellent source of hydration.
- Rich in electrolytes – high amounts of potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium.
- Decent fiber content – can help normalize bowel movements.
- Anti-inflammatory – contains lycopene and vitamin C.
- Low in sugar compared to other fruit juices.
Watermelon juice is gentle on the digestive system and drinking it throughout the day can help relieve diarrhea symptoms. Try mixing it with a bit of lime juice and mint for an extra refreshing treat.
3. Apple Juice
Apple juice is a household favorite, especially for kids. While high in sugar, it contains pectin, a type of soluble fiber that can help with diarrhea. Other apple juice benefits include:
- Rich in potassium – one cup contains 306mg.
- Decent source of vitamin C and other antioxidants.
- Pectin can help firm up loose stools.
- Simple sugars are easily absorbed.
- Familiar, appealing taste for most people.
Drink apple juice diluted with water to cut the sweetness and maximize the hydration benefits. Alternate it with more electrolyte-rich juices to get the best diarrhea relief.
4. Cranberry Juice
You may think of cranberry juice mostly for urinary tract health, but it can also be a good choice for diarrhea. Here’s a look at the pros of cranberry juice:
- Decent potassium levels – contains over 200mg per cup.
- Some probiotic potential – may favor growth of good bacteria.
- Anti-inflammatory compounds like anthocyanins.
- Lower in sugar than many fruit juices.
Cranberry juice can help replenish electrolytes lost from diarrhea while providing polyphenol antioxidants to support your body’s recovery. Be sure to choose pure, unsweetened cranberry juice rather than sugary cocktail versions.
5. Rice Water
Although not a fruit juice, rice water is worth mentioning for diarrhea relief, especially in children. Here are the benefits:
- Contains starch molecules that hydrate the cells of the intestines.
- Has almost no fiber, making it easy to digest.
- Is isotonic like coconut water.
- Provides glucose for energy.
- Traditionally used for diarrhea in many cultures.
To make rice water, boil some rice in extra water, then strain out the rice. The starchy water left behind can be sipped frequently to treat diarrhea. Rice water is bland tasting so children tend to accept it well.
Fruit Juices to Avoid with Diarrhea
While the fruit juices listed above can help provide hydration and electrolytes during diarrhea, there are certain juices that should be avoided or limited due to containing more sugar, fiber and acidity:
|Fruit Juice||Why Limit|
|Orange juice||High in sugar and acidic|
|Grapefruit juice||Very acidic and can irritate the GI tract|
|Prune juice||Contains sorbitol which acts as a laxative|
|Pomegranate juice||Contains fiber which can further stimulate the intestines|
|Cherry juice||High in sugar comparable to soda|
These fruit juices may make diarrhea worse or provide less hydration benefit. It’s fine to try them in small amounts diluted with water, but the other juices on our list are generally better tolerated.
Other Hydrating Drinks for Diarrhea
Fruit juices provide a tasty source of hydration, electrolytes, and glucose during bouts of diarrhea. But there are other drink options that can effectively hydrrate and replace lost fluids and minerals:
- Sports drinks: These contain balanced electrolytes and sugars for hydration and energy.
- Oral rehydration solutions: Products like Pedialyte are specially formulated to treat dehydration from diarrhea.
- Clear broths: Sipping on a warm, salt-free broth helps replenish sodium.
- Herbal teas: Soothing teas like chamomile, ginger, and mint supply fluids and calm the digestive tract.
- Water: Plain water is always essential to prevent dehydration. Mix in a teaspoon of honey and lemon for flavor.
Rotate these with fruit juices to give your body the wide range of nutrients and minerals it needs. Avoid milk, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages until diarrhea subsides.
When to See a Doctor
Mild cases of diarrhea will often resolve on their own within a few days as you rest and stay hydrated. But see a doctor promptly if you experience:
- Diarrhea lasting more than 3 days
- Bloody stool
- Severe abdominal pain or cramping
- Dehydration symptoms like excessive thirst, dry mouth, dizziness or dark urine
- Fever over 101 F
- Diarrhea following recent antibiotics use
In infants and toddlers, seek medical care if diarrhea lasts over 24 hours, causes lethargy, or is accompanied by:
- Extreme thirst
- No urine output for 6 hours
- Abdominal swelling
- Signs of dehydration like sunken eyes, lack of tears, or dry mouth
Rapid loss of fluids and electrolytes can be dangerous in small children so call your pediatrician if you have any concerns.
When to Stop Fruit Juices
Fruit juices are very helpful during the early stages of diarrhea to help replenish hydration and electrolytes. But if symptoms persist more than a couple days, it’s best to avoid fruit juices and stick to water, oral rehydration solutions, or bland clear broths. Reasons to stop fruit juices include:
- The simple sugars can make diarrhea worse.
- They don’t adequately replace needed electrolytes beyond the first day or so.
- Fruit sugars may not be well absorbed if diarrhea is severe.
- The fiber in some juices could overstimulate the intestines.
Again, consult your doctor if diarrhea is ongoing as IV fluids may be needed for severe dehydration. Stop all solid foods initially and reintroduce bland, low-fiber foods as the diarrhea improves.
The Bottom Line
Diarrhea is never fun to deal with. Staying hydrated is key and fruit juices like coconut water, watermelon, apple, and cranberry juice can provide hydration, important electrolytes, and energy when you need it most. Drink them in frequent small amounts and combine with oral rehydration solutions if diarrhea persists more than a couple days. If symptoms are severe or lasting, be sure to consult your doctor right away. With the right fluids and treatments, you’ll be feeling better in no time.