What Is An Astringent Diet?

If you frequently suffer from diarrhea, whether because you're stressed, taking antibiotics, or do too much exercise, an astringent diet could be just what you need. Find out more in this article.
What Is An Astringent Diet?

Last update: 19 December, 2020

Some athletes tend to suffer from regular episodes of diarrhea. This is because regular physical exercise stimulates peristalsis in the intestines. One way of addressing this is an astringent diet, and today, we’ll tell you more about what this consists of.

Before we go any further, it’s important to point out that this diet should definitely not be adopted if you often suffer from constipation. In certain circumstances, this diet could make things worse and lead to increased abdominal pain.

What does an astringent diet consist of?

An astringent diet aims to include foods that increase the volume and density of your feces. This means being careful with insoluble fiber as these can have the opposite effect and stimulate distention receptors in the digestive tract.

Soluble fiber on the other hand has a positive effect because it retains fluids and helps to compact the waste from the digestion process.

Some fruit and vegetables are ideal for an astringent diet, such as bananas. However, you need to make sure that they’re not overripe, as their sugar content could end up having the opposite effect.

Another astringent food is potatoes. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the potato also contains fiber that retains water and helps to compact feces. Rice and cocoa also have similar properties.

A pile of potatoes, which are good to include in an astringent diet.

Another effective remedy for diarrhea is probiotic foods derived from fermented milk, particularly those associated with the use of antibiotics. Including a bacterial supplement in your diet can be a very good way of improving intestinal function. Obviously, it’s still best to consult with a specialist first.

Foods to avoid in an astringent diet

If you’re thinking of taking up an astringent diet, you’ll need to avoid foods that contain high amounts of insoluble fiber, such as wholegrain cereals. Some scientific studies have demonstrated that it increases the amount you’ll need to defecate, particularly if you ingest more than 0.7 oz of fiber per day.

It’s also important for you to be wary of fruits that contain proteolytic enzymes, such as kiwis or pineapples. These enzymes can cause the feces to break up, which results in less consistency and makes it harder for the large intestines to reabsorb fluids.

Water intake on an astringent diet

We all know how important it is to drink enough water to avoid dehydration. However, on an astringent diet, it’s really important not to drink too much.

Drinking more than five pints of water per day, especially if you’re not exercising, can complicate the reabsorption of fluid in the bowels. Obviously, this increases the chances of diarrhea.

However, not drinking enough water can lead to constipation, which isn’t exactly fun either. Ideally, you should drink water to stay hydrated. Soft drinks containing sweeteners can alter your intestinal microbiota and cause metabolic and intestinal transit problems.

A woman drinking a glass of water.

This diet is just a temporary remedy

So, in short, an astringent diet is based on restricting fruits containing proteolytic enzymes and foods containing insoluble fiber, such as wholegrain cereals. At the same time, you should consume more fermented milk products, fruits containing soluble fibers, and other foods such as cocoa or coffee. Of course, you also need to make sure that you still get plenty of protein and fat.

Furthermore, you need to make sure that you get enough fluids but not too much. If you follow all of these steps, your feces will have better volume and density. At the same time, you’ll avoid the reabsorption of fluids in the bowels, which can break down the feces.

Diarrhea can be caused by antibiotics, stress, or simply doing too much intense exercise. If you think that this could be happening to you, don’t hesitate to see your doctor.

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  • Duggan T., Dawid C., Baur S., Hofmann T., Characterization of bitter and anstringent off taste compounds in potato fibers. J Agric Food Chem, 2020. 68 (4): 11524-11534.
  • Fathallah N., Bouchard D., Parades V., Diet and lifestyle rules in chronic constipation in adults: from fantasy to reality. Presse Med, 2017. 46 (1): 23-30.