Diarrhoea is a common problem during the summer months. It can have several causes including infectious bacteria, food poisoning, a sensitivity or intolerance to certain foods, Irritable Bowel or yeast overgrowth. It may also be associated with more serious conditions like Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. If it is a chronic problem it is more likely to be associated with a food intolerance.

It is essential that severe diarrhoea is treated quickly, especially in babies and young children – as the body can rapidly become dehydrated and the person can eventually lose consciousness. Adequate intake of fluids, particularly water, and electrolyte sachet drinks should be given hourly to adults to prevent severe dehydration. With young children and infants medical help should be sort urgently.

Foods to Avoid
Avoid sorbitol, which is used as a sweetening agent- as many people suffer diarrhoea after ingesting this sweetener. Lactose, the sugar in milk, is a common cause of chronic diarrhoea. If you are a regular coffee drinker, it’s worth giving it up for a few days and seeing if that helps.

Many people who have a sensitivity to wheat and gluten suffer chronic diarrhoea. When abroad, unless you are told the tap water is safe- then don’t drink it. In places like India and the Far East avoid salads as the water they are washed in can give you a bad case of diarrhoea. Otherwise travel with a small kettle and boil water first. (see more under Helpful Hints) Avoid undercooked fish or meat or any food that has not been kept properly cool – especially in summer. Avoid buying ice creams from ice cream vans – unless you can see they are hygienically kept.

Friendly Foods
Although we tend to associate fibre with ensuring adequate bowel movement and frequency, it can also help to control diarrhoea as the fibre will give bulk to the stool. Try soluble fibres like oat or rice bran, linseeds, psyllium husks and plenty of water or electrolyte drinks.

Drinking three to four cups of camomile or black tea a day has been used for many centuries as a gentle way of dealing with diarrhoea. Eating either dried bilberries or bilberry juice can also help (but not fresh bilberries as they can actually aggravate the problem).

Fresh vegetable soups with a little root ginger, or a small portion of poached fish and brown rice are usually well tolerated. Move onto solids only when symptoms begin to ease as sometimes diarrhoea is your body’s digestive system telling you it needs a rest. Eat plenty of low fat, live yoghurt to replenish healthy bacteria in the bowel. Drink plenty of cooled, boiled water. For acute diarrhoea, grate an apple, let it go brown and then eat it. Greenish bananas are very binding. Slippery Elm Powder can be mashed into a paste with banana and honey.

Useful Remedies
Whilst symptoms last take 7500iu of vitamin A and 30mg of zinc, as lack of zinc has been shown to trigger diarrhoea. Thereafter take a good quality vitamin/mineral to help prevent malnutrition. The herb golden seal is known to kill most harmful organisms. Take 2-3ml of tincture 2 or 3 times a day, or 1 gram of capsules 2 – 3 times a day. If you are susceptible to diarrhoea when you travel abroad, taking acidophilus for two weeks prior to your trip can help increase the number of healthy bacteria in the gut which reduces the risk of picking up a tummy bug.

Culturelle contains a strain of bacteria called Lactobacillus Acidophillus GG (LAGG). Extensive research in developing countries has shown this supplement treats and in some cases prevent dangerous forms of childhood diarrhoea. It is also effective against traveller’s diarrhoea, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, and colitis, in both children and adults. Take 2 capsules daily. For details call The Nutri Centre on 0207 436 5122

Helpful Hints
Potter’s make a Spanish Tummy Mixture containing herbs and tinctures to heal the gut. Available from all good health stores. To find your nearest stockist call Potter’s (Herbal Supplies) Ltd on 01202 449 752. Website: www.pottersherbal.co.uk

Stabilised liquid oxygen (Hydroxygen Plus) helps to re-alkalise the body, encourages healthy bacteria in the gut and has been shown to kill bacteria such as E Coli, some viruses, parasites and fungi. You can add a few drops of this mix to water and when left for 4 hours it sterilizes the water A/v from all good health stores or call The Finchley Clinic on 0208 349 4730.

Never drink tap water unless you are sure it is safe to do so and avoid salads and fruit washed in local tap water in countries like India and Africa. Avoid ice cubes made from local tap water. Eat only thoroughly cooked foods if you are worried about getting a bad tummy upset.

Use bottled water and fizzy drinks but only if they have sealed tops . If the diarrhoea resembles water coming out of a hose try homeopathic Podophyllum 30c – every few hours for a day. If you suffer persistent diarrhoea – it is essential that you see a doctor as soon as possible.

Extracted from 500 of the Most Important Health Tips You’ll Ever Need. See my Books Section on this site for more details.