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Why is the BRAT diet no longer recommended?

Why is the BRAT Diet No Longer Recommended?

When it comes to treating gastrointestinal illnesses and digestive issues in children, the BRAT diet has long been a go-to option for parents and healthcare professionals. However, recent changes in recommendations have led experts to question the effectiveness and nutritional value of this diet. In this article, we will explore why the BRAT diet is no longer recommended and discuss alternative approaches to aid in the recovery of children who are ill.

Overview of the BRAT Diet

The BRAT diet, which stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast, is a bland and easily digestible diet often recommended for children experiencing digestive problems like diarrhea, vomiting, or an upset stomach. It gained popularity due to its simplicity and the belief that these foods are gentle on the stomach.

The diet typically involves consuming small portions of each of the included foods. Bananas are chosen for their soft texture and high potassium content. Rice is included as it is easy to digest and helps bind loose stools. Applesauce is often used due to its mild flavor and gentle effect on the stomach. Toast, especially when it is dry and without added spreads, is thought to be easy on the digestive system.

The BRAT diet has been a staple in households and medical advice for many years, but recent research and expert opinions have shed light on some concerns regarding its effectiveness and nutritional adequacy.

Reasons for the Shift in Recommendations

One of the primary reasons why the BRAT diet is no longer recommended is its lack of essential nutrients. While the diet may help alleviate symptoms temporarily, it does not provide enough nutrition to support the recovery and healing of the gastrointestinal tract.

1. Low fiber content: The BRAT diet is low in fiber, which is an essential nutrient for overall digestive health. Fiber helps regulate bowel movements and promotes a healthy gut environment. Limiting fiber intake can result in constipation or the inability to effectively clear out toxins from the body.

2. Low protein content: Protein plays a crucial role in healing and repairing tissues in the body. However, the BRAT diet lacks adequate protein sources, which are essential for the recovery process. Insufficient protein intake can hinder the body’s ability to repair damaged tissues, leading to a slower healing process.

3. Low fat content: Fat is another nutrient that is necessary for the proper functioning of the body. It provides energy, aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and helps maintain healthy skin and cell membranes. The BRAT diet, being low in fat, deprives the body of these important functions and can lead to deficiencies.

Furthermore, studies and expert opinions support the shift away from the BRAT diet as the primary treatment for gastrointestinal illnesses in children. Research has shown that the BRAT diet alone may not provide sufficient nutrition for optimal recovery and that a more balanced approach is needed to support overall wellness.

Risks and Drawbacks of the BRAT Diet

The reliance on the BRAT diet as a sole treatment for gastrointestinal illnesses carries several risks and drawbacks that should be taken into consideration:

1. Potential for nutrient deficiencies: As mentioned earlier, the BRAT diet lacks essential nutrients such as fiber, protein, and fat. Prolonged adherence to this diet can result in nutrient deficiencies, compromising the child’s overall health and wellbeing.

2. Inadequate hydration: The BRAT diet does not emphasize the importance of hydration, which is crucial for recovery from gastrointestinal illnesses. Fluid intake is necessary to replenish lost fluids due to diarrhea or vomiting and prevent dehydration, especially in children.

3. Impact on gut health: The limited variety of foods in the BRAT diet can negatively impact gut health. A diverse range of foods is essential for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, which supports the immune system and aids in digestion. Restricting the diet to only a few foods can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and lead to further digestive issues in the long run.

Alternative Recommendations for Children who are Ill

In light of the limitations of the BRAT diet, it is important to consider alternative approaches to aid in the recovery of children who are ill:

1. Incorporating a variety of foods in the diet: Instead of relying solely on the BRAT diet, it is beneficial to introduce a wider range of foods to provide essential nutrients for recovery. Fruits and vegetables should be gradually reintroduced, as they are rich in fiber and essential vitamins. Whole grains can provide additional fiber and micronutrients, while sources of lean protein such as chicken, fish, or tofu can aid in tissue repair.

2. Fluid intake and rehydration: In addition to a varied diet, proper hydration is crucial for children who are ill. Water should be encouraged to replenish lost fluids, and electrolyte-rich beverages like oral rehydration solutions or sports drinks can be considered to restore the balance of electrolytes in the body.

3. Seeking medical advice for individual cases: It is always important to consult healthcare professionals for personalized dietary guidance, especially when dealing with gastrointestinal illnesses in children. They can provide tailored recommendations based on the specific needs and restrictions of the child.


The BRAT diet, once a popular choice for treating digestive issues in children, is no longer recommended due to its lack of essential nutrients and limited effectiveness. While the diet may provide some relief, it is important to focus on a more balanced approach to support the recovery and healing of the gastrointestinal tract. Incorporating a variety of foods, maintaining proper hydration, and seeking medical advice are essential components of a holistic treatment plan for children who are ill. Remember to consult healthcare professionals for personalized guidance and to ensure the best possible outcome for your child’s health and wellbeing.


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