Few reach for a glass of coca-cola when they’re looking for a health drink, but some may have tried drinking coke when experiencing diarrhea.
This sweet and fizzy drink is sometimes recommended as a potential treatment for alleviating stomach conditions. But is coke actually good for diarrhea?
Although drinking coca-cola is a common recommendation when suffering from an upset stomach, it may not actually provide any benefits.
In fact, drinking coke could be making your symptoms worse.
In this guide, we take a look at why people drink coke when they have diarrhea, and whether it’s actually beneficial. We also look at the potential harm of drinking coca-cola when experiencing diarrhea.
Finally, we’ll cover some drinks to try instead, to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of diarrhea.
Is Coke Good For Diarrhea?
It’s a common home remedy to open a bottle of coca-cola, let it go flat, and sip it when experiencing diarrhea. Thanks to a high sugar content and the removal of that fizzy carbonation, it can feel incredibly refreshing.
In some cases, coke and other fizzy drinks may have felt like the only choice. When children are suffering with diarrhea, it’s important to ensure that they stay hydrated.
However, encouraging children, especially those who aren’t feeling well, to drink water isn’t always easy. A glass of flat coca-cola might have seemed to be the best option.
While scientific study into many home remedies can often prove health benefits, drinking coca-cola for diarrhea has no proven effect.
Coke can help with rehydration, but it isn’t the best option. As it’s low in electrolytes, such as sodium, coca-cola can’t rehydrate as effectively as other beverages. When having diarrhea, many electrolytes are lost through the stool and coca-cola does not replace these.
The sugar content of coca-cola might help to replenish energy and calories lost after a bad bout of diarrhea. However, high amounts of sugar can acutally worsen diarrhea.
Some may also find the slight remaining fizz to be helpful for an uneasy stomach (although others will find the opposite as it can lead to gas, bloating and belching).
If you intend to drink coke to help with diarrhea, it’s important to drink other beverages alongside, particularly water.
Coca-cola is not a treatment, so while it may make you feel more refreshed, it won’t help to alleviate the diarrhea symptoms.
Why You Shouldn’t Drink Coke To Ease An Upset Stomach?
Coke may not just be lacking in benefits — it might actually make your diarrhea worse. There are a few reasons why a glass of coca-cola shouldn’t be what you reach for when you have an upset stomach.
The first problem with drinking coke when struggling with diarrhea is the amount of caffeine it contains. Caffeine can worsen diarrhea in some. Caffeine also has a diuretic effect, and excessive consumption can actually be the cause of diarrhea or dehydrate you further.
Consumed in moderate amounts, caffeine is unlikely to induce diarrhea.
However, when already lacking fluids and nutrients due to the effects of diarrhea, consuming caffeinated coke is not recommended.
The high sugar content is one of the reasons coke is recommended for those with diarrhea. As fluids and foods are lost, the calorie boost from a sugary drink is assumed to increase energy. However, large amounts of sugar can stimulate diarrhea.
It’s Not As Replenishing As You Might Think
When suffering from diarrhea, staying hydrated is incredibly important, as is replacing the electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, in our body.
However, eating solid food can seem off-putting. To compensate, many of us turn to drinks we assume can do both.
Coca-cola has low levels of sodium, and sodium is vital for a body that’s experiencing diarrhea. Coke, which is lacking in both sodium and potassium, can’t provide the essential electrolytes needed to replenish the body.
So, even if you think you’ve been hydrating and refreshing throughout the day, coke hasn’t actually been providing the body with what it needs.
What About Sugar-Free Coke?
Diet soft drinks are often seen as the healthier choice when you’re craving something sweet. And while the lack of sugar can have its benefits, there’s a real downside when drinking diet beverages on an upset stomach.
In fact, if you’ve been consuming a large amount of artificial sweeteners, they may actually be causing your diarrhea.
Artificial sweeteners are hard for the stomach to digest, leading to an upset bowel and potentially, more diarrhea.
These artificial sugars are why you should steer clear of caffeine free coca-cola as well. Although there’s no caffeine to exacerbate your diarrhea, the artificial sugar can still cause trouble.
What To Drink If You’re Experiencing Diarrhea?
If you’re experiencing diarrhea, then you have to stay hydrated. Sip water regularly, to replace the fluids that you’re losing.
Salty broth is another recommendation. These broths often contain high levels of sodium, helping to replace both the electrolytes and fluids the body has lost. A light, salty broth is gentle on the stomach.
Sports drinks containing electrolytes are also beneficial, but take care when choosing. Avoid diet drinks, which will contain artificial sugars. Also, avoid those which contain increased levels of high fructose corn syrup.
Some sports drinks companies make an “oral rehydration solution” that contains appropriate levels of electrolytes to help replaces losses in the stool.
Certain teas, such as ginger, chamomile, and peppermint, can also help ease an upset stomach.
If you’re struggling to convince a child to stay hydrated, clear sodas such as Sprite, or ginger ale, are better than coke. Some fruit juices can also be enjoyed, but avoid those with pulp, and consider watering the drink down, to reduce sugar content which could exacerbate diarrhea.
Other drinks to avoid include coffee, apple juice, prune juice, milk, and alcohol.
Coke and Diarrhea Final Thoughts
A glass of flat coke is often touted as a remedy for diarrhea, but there isn’t evidence to support this. Instead, drinking coke might actually cause your diarrhea to worsen.
Ingredients in coke such as caffeine, sugar, and artificial sweeteners can all exacerbate diarrhea. With a low amount of sodium, coca-cola doesn’t help to replace electrolytes.
Instead of drinking flat coke, try water, salty broth, and sports drinks instead. Drink regularly between meals. If you have to drink coca-cola, make sure to supplement it with lots of water, and foods or other liquids high in potassium and sodium.
There are some drinks and other things that may help with diarrhea: