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Travelers' diarrhea not improved by restricted diet

Travelers suffering from "Montezuma's revenge" may not necessarily have to avoid tasty cuisine. In a comparison of two groups of patients receiving antibiotics to treat travelers' diarrhea, those who restricted their diet to broth and bland foods did not recover any faster than those who ate anything they wanted, according to an article in the August 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online.

Travelers' diarrhea is usually caused by a bacterial infection from eating contaminated food. Traditionally, patients with cases of travelers' diarrhea have been advised to restrict their diet to clear liquids and simple carbohydrates, like crackers, toast, Jell-O, rice, bananas and baked chicken, and told to steer clear of dairy products and spicy or fatty foods.

However, research on diet in relation to recovery from travelers' diarrhea was lacking, so University of Texas researchers compared two groups of 105 college students visiting Guadalajara, Mexico. The subjects in each group were receiving antibiotic treatment for diarrhea. One group was told to stick to the bland diet, and the other was given no restriction on what to eat, although both groups were advised to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. The results showed no real benefit to the diet restriction.

One reason for the two groups' equally speedy recovery time was probably their general good health, said study co-author Dr. Herbert DuPont, a professor at the University of Texas Houston Health Science Center. "Travelers are a different group than children with cholera or people with viral gastroenteritis," said Dr. DuPont, because they tend to be "young, healthy people with relatively normal intestinal physiology."

Despite the similarity in the patients' recovery time, the bland diet recommendation might still be advisable for some, especially if they did not take antibiotics to treat the diarrhea, according to Dr. Charles Ericsson, lead author of the st
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Contact: Jeff Minerd
jminerd@idsociety.org
301-920-1966
Infectious Diseases Society of America
5-Aug-2004


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