What foods will help my dad's sool become more solid?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 05, 2016
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I have been caring for my dad for years. During the last couple weeks his stool has been watery or mushy but not solid and he goes about every few days. He urinates normally. What change to his diet can I add? What foods do I avoid for now besides all beans and I lowered his intake of fruit like crushed pineapple and do I avoid milk in forms of cottage cheese? I have added bananas and rice to his diet. What about egg whites and potatoes in any form? Is spaghetti bad?


Expert Answers

Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is Caring.com senior food and nutrition editor and the director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet.

A person may experience soft or watery stools for any number of reasons or for what may seem like no reason at all. Antibiotics, an occasional bug, a new food, or a particularly stressful event are all occasions for which our gut may experience distress and let us know that something is not quite right. Diarrhea is one sign that your dad's body is trying to get rid of something. Regardless of the cause there are certain guidelines that may be helpful to follow.
First on the agenda is to make certain that your father is adequately hydrated to put back fluids lost in the watery stools. Foods and beverages capable of supplying important electrolytes (salts and minerals) include broth soups and my new favorite electrolyte replacement drink, coconut water. 100% coconut water may be a superior fluid replacement beverage even compared to more popular sports drinks. It is low in sugar and high in potassium, sodium and magnesium. Eating small meals throughout the day will be easier for his stomach to manage. Simple ("bland") foods that are easy to digest and prepared without spices or added fats (such as baked chicken without the skin) will be better tolerated than higher fat red meats.
There are particular foods that are helpful in firming up the stool due to their fiber content. They include:

  • Whole grains, such as barley, oatmeal, and brown rice (wonderful sources of soluble fibers that can help add bulk and improve the consistency of the stool.
  • Vegetables and fruits that are peeled and cooked are also helpful. Be careful to avoid those vegetables that cause gas like the cabbages, corn and certain green leaf vegetables.
  • Probiotics are the bacteria that are important for digestion and maintaining the health of the gut. They can be found in yogurts that contain "live active cultures", like lactobacillus acidophilus and bifido bacterium. They are also available in supplement form and drinks such as Kefir.

Until the condition improves it is also recommended that your father avoid foods that may aggravate the diarrhea. These include:

  • Most milk products
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Foods high in simple sugars like candy syrups and desserts.
  • Particularly fatty food
  • Caffeine containing beverages

I hope this helps and that your father is feeling well very soon. If his condition worsens or does not improve please seek medical advice.