Food poisoning can feel hard to recover from, especially in the depths of winter. Here's my advice to support your gut and immunity and return to normal quickly.
Food poisoning warning signs typically show a day or two after eating the contaminated food, and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. Most people will recover within a week, but that can feel like forever when you’re ill. To minimise the severity of food poisoning and help your body recover quickly, simple dietary adjustments and targeted supplements may help. I talk to the Daily Express about it.
Read the full article in the Daily Express online.
Start with food
It can also help to adjust your diet temporarily while you have food poisoning, and the BRAT diet is commonly recommended. It stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, all bland foods that are easy for your gut to digest. You could also try cooked potatoes, crackers, porridge or chicken soup. Eat small amounts when you feel up to it, avoid spicy, rich or fatty meals and keep hydrated with sips of water.
The body’s production of lactase, the enzyme which breaks down lactose in dairy products, is often reduced during food poisoning. So it may help to avoid milk and yoghurt for a few days during recovery.
When your appetite is back, introduce small amounts of lean protein like scrambled eggs or skinless chicken breast, and cooked vegetables. This will give you energy and help return your digestive system to normal.
The most important thing to remember with food poisoning is to have plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. You should also stay at home and get plenty of rest.
Some people find that taking ginger tablets keeps nausea under control during an episode of food poisoning. While results in research studies are mixed, ginger tablets are a safe one-off remedy worth trying – take one tablet two or three times a day while you’re feeling nauseous, and see if it helps. It’s important not to take any herbal supplement long term, as we don’t know much about any lasting side effects. If you’re too nauseous to swallow a capsule, suck on ginger sweets or put slices of fresh ginger and lemon in hot water and drink.
Oral rehydration treatment
When you have acute diarrhoea you’re at risk of losing fluids, along with essential salts and minerals known as electrolytes. This can lead to severe dehydration if you’re not careful. Oral rehydration treatments replace lost fluids and electrolytes and provide glucose for energy, with amounts carefully balanced to the body’s needs. Dissolve one sachet in a glass of water and drink it each time you have a loose stool. Don’t try to rehydrate with cola, juice, tea, coffee or sports drinks, as caffeine and sugar can make diarrhoea worse. Make sure you take an oral rehydration treatment alongside any other supplements or dietary changes to manage food poisoning.
Most over-the-counter treatments against diarrhoea just slow down bowel movements, with the toxin that caused food poisoning remaining in the digestive tract, but I recommend Enterosgel, a drug-free remedy which physically binds to toxins from bacteria like E. coli and norovirus that cause food poisoning, removing them naturally through the stool. It's non-allergenic, organic gel that mixes easily into water. “Stir a sachet of Enterosgel into a glass of water and drink after each bowel movement. Make sure you also drink plenty of fluids across the day. Try it for 5 days and see if it helps.
Probiotics are live bacteria that live in your gut and promote healthy digestion.
A review of research showed that taking a probiotic supplement can reduce the duration of infectious diarrhoea by up to 30 hours. A daily probiotic may also help restore your gut’s beneficial gut bacteria, which in turn will stimulate your immune system – giving your body the best chance in future to ward off, or recover from, infection. Start taking a probiotic as soon as food poisoning is apparent, or if you suspect it. When you feel able to eat again, give your good gut bacteria a further helping hand by having a small pot of live natural yoghurt each day.