Astringent Diet: What Does It Consist Of?

Are you suffering from an episode of acute diarrhea? In that case, you'll need to know how to plan an astringent diet to stop the symptoms.
Astringent Diet: What Does It Consist Of?
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 27 June, 2023

Sometimes it’s necessary to start an astringent diet to avoid or stop episodes of diarrhea. In this way, possible dehydration is prevented and digestive health is improved.

What’s clear is that there are foods with the capacity to reduce the speed of transit or to influence the reabsorption of fluid in the small intestine. Even so, sometimes it’s not enough to start an astringent diet and you have to resort to pharmacology.

Foods allowed in the astringent diet

We must start by talking about the foods that can be introduced into the astringent diet. They’ll need to be combined to avoid nutritional deficits and to ensure that the body’s physiology develops normally.

Plain yogurt

This product is characterized by the presence of proteins of high biological value. It has the peculiarity of containing beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. According to a study published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews , these microorganisms are capable of reducing episodes of diarrhea, selectively colonizing the digestive tract.

In fact, the regular intake of probiotic bacteria is beneficial for health. Thanks to them, the density and diversity of the microbiota are increased.

Lean meats

Fat tends to delay gastric emptying and make digestion difficult. This is due to the need for the production of bile acids for their emulsion and subsequent absorption. For this reason, in the context of diarrhea, it’s important to choose lean cuts that ensure an easy passage through the intestine.

Although it’s important to consider a special diet adapted to this situation, it’s still essential to meet the daily protein requirements. Otherwise, you could experience the catabolism of lean tissue. These needs are estimated at more than 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight, as stated by research published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism.

To satisfy this requirement, foods such as chicken, turkey, veal, and cooked ham should be introduced into the astringent diet. All these products are capable of providing proteins of high biological value.

Lean meat.
Lean meat is preferable when following an astringent diet to control diarrhea.

White fish

White fish also contain significant amounts of proteins of high biological value. Also, they’re lower in fat than oily fish.

It’s best to cook white fish on the grill, steamed, or by cooking with water in the context of the astringent diet. In addition, it’s essential not to add sauces.

It’s important not to forget that these foods also contain a large amount of minerals inside. For this reason, they’re able to prevent alterations in the electrolyte balance derived from the loss of liquid through the stools.


Some vegetables can also be introduced in the astringent diet, although you should choose those with moderate fiber content. An excessive intake of this substance could result in a worsening of diarrhea or intestinal inflammation. The best options are carrots and potatoes, always cooked.

It’s important to limit the contribution of fruits with too much water content, such as pineapple and melon. It’s always preferable to choose those that also have an astringent nature, such as apples and bananas.

Allowed carbohydrates

It’s often important to introduce a certain portion of carbohydrates into the diet to ensure balance. Now, in this context, it’s better to avoid whole cereals and grains. These products could make diarrhea worse due to their excessive fiber content.

It’s best to use potatoes and white rice as your main carbohydrate sources, always cooking them with water. Both foods will help add consistency to your stool.

Foods to avoid in the astringent diet

In the same way that there are recommended foods, there are many others whose consumption should be avoided in the context of an astringent diet. Otherwise, you could experience more powerful diarrhea.

As a general rule, it’s crucial to eliminate fried and battered foods. Their high content of trans fats makes digestion difficult and increases the body’s levels of inflammation. Also, it’s important to avoid ultra-processed foods in general.

On the other hand, foods that have a high percentage of cis fats, such as nuts, stews, sausages, and cheeses, shouldn’t be included in the context of the astringent diet. Both these nutrients and food additives are capable of causing significant damage to the intestinal level if there’s already a previous disorder.

In addition, it’s essential to avoid the intake of coffee, alcohol, sugary soft drinks, and spicy foods. These products have a certain irritant capacity. They can increase tube motility and make fluid reabsorption difficult.

Phases of the astringent diet

The astringent diet is structured in phases, according to the patient’s recovery stages. Little by little, a greater variety of foods can be included, testing the tolerance to them.

First phase

At this time, it’s usually best to fast. When the first signs of a stomach or intestinal problem are experienced, you’ll need to avoid the consumption of solid foods for a few hours. Otherwise, vomiting and diarrhea may intensify.

However, it’s important to ensure the continued supply of fluids. Lemon water is a good option, as it manages to provide a greater amount of nutrients. It has electrolytes that will help to ensure balance in the internal environment.

In the event that even water isn’t tolerated, it’s best to go to the emergency room. to administer a drug intramuscularly to stop vomiting.

Second stage

After 6 to 24 hours from the onset of symptoms, the second phase of the astringent diet can be started. The main objective is to stop diarrhea and ensure the tolerance of nutrients at the intestinal level. The best advice is to consume small amounts of lean food cooked that has been steamed, grilled, or baked.

It’s a good idea to start by making some white rice with fish or boiled chicken. From here, tolerance to these foods is assessed.

Third phase

From the third phase, the spectrum of foods consumed can be increased. Here, the feelings should be much more positive. It’s still possible to experience some intestinal discomfort, but little by little, they subside.

At this time, vegetables with higher amounts of fiber are introduced to check how the intestine responds to this substance. It’s good to start with purees, then add beans, squash, zucchini, and even tomatoes.

Fourth phase

The fourth phase is the beginning of normality. In principle, the alteration that has caused the diarrhea should be resolved.

In the event that the origin is an intestinal-type inflammatory disease, the outbreak is considered concluded. Little by little, you can introduce the foods of a normal diet.

It’ll be necessary to test how the fattiest and most complex preparations, such as stews, make you feel. You can also consume cheese or coffee to make sure that you don’t experience alterations in motility.

Probiotics in the astringent diet

Probiotics are very positive supplements to the astringent diet. This class of beneficial bacteria has been shown to be capable of reducing episodes of diarrhea, especially that associated with the consumption of antibiotics.

These microorganisms can also improve the symptoms of many intestinal-type inflammatory diseases. This is evidenced by research published in the journal Gastroenterology Clinics of North America.

An alteration in the composition of the intestinal microbiota could even be the reason for the appearance of diarrhea. This is because many bacteria are involved in the production of enzymes that facilitate digestion.

A fairly typical example is lactose intolerance. This sugar contained in milk can cause diarrhea in the case of those unable to synthesize lactase. Although this condition has a certain genetic determination, it’s influenced by the microbiota. There is evidence that the administration of probiotics in these situations reduces symptoms.

Probiotics and yogurt in the diet.
Probiotics are accumulating more and more evidence about their positive influence in cases of diarrhea.

The importance of prebiotics

Under the name of prebiotics, a set of soluble fibers capable of fermenting in the intestine is known, allowing the growth of the bacteria that inhabit the tube. They’re the energy substrate for these microorganisms.

In any case, the consumption of prebiotics is more focused on the prevention of diarrhea and the last phases of the astringent diet. If these compounds are introduced when the initial symptoms are present, they could increase.

When to consult a specialist?

The astringent diet should produce positive results, so that diarrhea stops completely in 3 or 4 days, and things can return to normal. However, there are cases in which recovery doesn’t occur in such a way. In this context, it’s very important to see a doctor.

The specialist may prescribe some drugs that normalize the motility of the digestive tract or the reabsorption of fluids in the large intestine. In addition, it may be necessary to perform diagnostic tests to verify the source of the problem.

If you experience fever, dizziness, loss of consciousness, or cold sweats, in addition to diarrhea itself, you’ll also need to visit a doctor. When there’s food poisoning, treatment with antibiotics may be necessary to prevent the overgrowth of pathogens.

Finally, if you detect that there’s a particular food or group of foods that cause digestive disorders, it’s also usually advisable to consult a specialist. In this case, specific tests will be carried out to find out if there are allergies or intolerances.

The astringent diet: A remedy for digestive disorders

As you’ve seen, it’s possible to consider an astringent diet when experiencing intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea. Usually, this problem is accompanied by vomiting, which makes it more difficult to plan an adequate diet.

It’s essential to ensure correct fluid intake during the first stages of the process, especially in older adults who are more prone to dehydration. Subsequently, it’ll be necessary to consider a soft diet with little fat content and a certain amount of protein.

Keep in mind that if the diarrhea doesn’t subside in 3 or 4 days, you’ll need to consult a specialist.

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  • Guo, Q., Goldenberg, J. Z., Humphrey, C., El Dib, R., & Johnston, B. C. (2019). Probiotics for the prevention of pediatric antibiotic-associated diarrhea. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews4(4), CD004827.
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  • Jayachandran, M., Chen, J., Chung, S., & Xu, B. (2018). A critical review on the impacts of β-glucans on gut microbiota and human health. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry61, 101–110.

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