It’s been a long, hot summer. However, where there’s food and fun at BBQs and picnics, there’s also the not so fun risk of food poisoning. If you’ve been the unlucky one this summer, what can you do to speed up your digestive system recovery when food poisoning strikes?!
What happens to your digestive system when you have food poisoning?
Often you’ll start to experience food poisoning symptoms a few hours after eating the offending food. But sometimes it can take a few days for the symptoms to start which makes it harder to pinpoint the culprit. Often undercooked food is the problem or improperly handled meat when preparing.
Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea are the most common symptoms, but you can have a high temperature and a general feeling of unwell such as weakness or chills. Food poisoning should only last a few days or up to a week. If it lasts longer, you may have a more serious infection and should consult a doctor.
The bad bacteria in the contaminated food infects the intestines, causing the body to draw extra fluid into the digestive system to flush it out. This then causes diarrhoea or vomiting to expel the bacteria out. You shouldn’t try to stop this from happening by taking anti-sickness medicine, or diarrhoea combatting drugs, as it’s the body’s way of ridding itself of the contamination.
What can you do to help your gut fight food poisoning?
There are many home remedies to help your digestive system fight the bacteria and some to help you recover and start to feel a little better. So here are my favourites that you can try:
- Let your stomach rest. After a horrible episode of vomiting or diarrhoea, the last thing that your digestive system needs is food or drink inside it. Avoid all food and drink for a couple of hours and let it rest. If you’re very thirsty or dehydrated though, take small sips of water (see my next tip!).
- If you’re feeling thirsty, drink water! I know I say this with everything, but a common side effect of diarrhoea or vomiting will be dehydration. If you drink more, it will help to flush the bad bacteria through the body. If you’ve been very sick, start with a couple of small sips every five minutes to keep up the fluid intake without causing you to vomit again. Using a timer is helpful to remember to drink something little and often. If you’re starting to feel a little better and able to drink more without being sick, try drinks with electrolytes, chicken/vegetable broth or decaf tea.
- Increase the number of good bacteria in your stomach to help fight the bad bacteria, by taking a high quality probiotic. You can get infant powders that are easily added to drinks if you want to use for children.
- When you are able to eat something (try not to eat anything for a few hours after a bout of food poisoning symptoms), try food that is gentle on your stomach. Avoid anything too fatty so that the gut doesn’t have to do much work to digest it. Some examples are bananas, porridge (made with water only), mashed potatoes, rice, plain toast and stewed apple.
- Honey has antibacterial properties and can be taken on its own or in tea. One teaspoon three times a day can help an upset stomach. If you are able to eat, you could have this on your toast.
- Ginger is a common remedy as it improves the absorption of essential nutrients and aids digestion. It’s a quick remedy for nausea and vomiting too and can be sipped if you’re still suffering from sickness, as it will help to soothe the stomach. Make a simple ginger tea by adding a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger to boiling water and leaving to steep for a few minutes, then sipping throughout the day. You can add a little honey to it for sweetness if you prefer too.
- Cider Vinegar can help kill those bad bacteria and soothe the lining of the gut too. Just mix a tablespoon of cider vinegar into a cup of hot water with some a teaspoon of honey to taste and drink through the day.
I hope that you don’t come a cropper to a bout of food poisoning, but if you do, hopefully these tips will help to shorten the episode and bring you some relief. The digestive system is an amazing part of our body and knows just what to do when it is infected. All we can do it aid its recovery and not try to stop it doing its job.
If you’ve suffered this summer with your digestive system in some way and need some help recovering, then please do get in touch with me for a consultation to see how I can help. I offer a number of complementary therapies too, so please take a look at my menu of services to see if there is something that can help you.
I hope you have a wonderful time for the rest of the summer and remember, there is never a hosepipe ban with The Colonic Queen!