Food poisoning

By  Anni Dahms Owner of the retail chain ANNI’s VITAL SHOP. Nurse- & Health specialist, Biopath and Nutritional Adviser.

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The article is also available in Spanish, Finnish, Danish

During my recent summer vacation in Mexico, I got a terrible food poisoning. It was completely my own fault, as I totally chose to ignore my inner body voice. I had bought a bunch of bananas without top stalks, which were a bit overripe as well. My inner voice told me that I shouldn’t buy bananas without a top and that I certainly shouldn’t eat them if they were overripe. I said, “who cares, you don’t get sick from eating bananas”. However, they next day I quickly realized that you can indeed, get sick from bananas! I had a strong diarrhea, I was vomiting, had a high fever, and my entire body was hurting.

IMG_3213I didn’t have any probiotics, as I had given them to my lovely moto-taxi driver, whom have had diarrhea for two weeks. It is quite uncomfortable, to be driving around with two rolls of toilet paper, when you have been on the road all day. I had given them to him, because I normally have a good immune system and a strong stomach, thinking I would not need any myself. After my sickness had peeked, my friend came with a beer and told me that I should drink it in small sips. It would settle me a bit, as it was necessary to get some sugar and salt in the 35-degree heat. I sipped it slowly and felt that it was helping, even though I’m well aware that alcohol is diuretic. When my friend felt safe leaving me on my own, he drove to the nearest vegetable stand, bought a bunch of vegetables and asked them to slaughter a chicken, since his friend was sick. They quickly ran into the yard and found the finest chicken, which became pure medicine to me. It was boiled with all the vegetables for 3 hours, and then I was almost spoon-fed with the lovely soup. Whether it was the beer, the soup, or the love I was given, I have no way of knowing, perhaps a combination of the three, and I quickly started to regain my strength and could return to my daily doings. Even though the above-mentioned diet helped me, I would normally recommend a safer and milder one. Food poisoning flourishes, in my experience, often in September. “Migrating birds” from many countries return to their other home, here in Spain. The toilets on the planes are shared by all, and many new people meet, which hug and greet each other. The students in different schools are starting their everyday routines again, and here they meet and greet as well, with bacteria from many different places. Food poisoning can be caused by bacteria, virus, and other harmful substances. The symptoms often start a few hours after the consumption of the given food or other close contact with the infected, but it can take up to 24 hours before you really feel it, as it kicks in. The symptoms are often strong diarrhea, vomiting, pain in the stomach, and fever. The strongest symptoms usually disappear after 12 hours.

The diet

During a food poisoning, it’s good to try to cleanse your body, if you are, reasonably healthy. Otherwise, you should contact your doctor and get help that way. You should also contact your doctor if your condition is worsening, or if the duration seems longer than normal. When you can hold in water, then start with some boiled water, possibly with some apple- or lemon juice added, and/or a small amount of salt. We loose salt during the sickness and our bodies need salt to function. Start carefully when consuming liquids. Your stomach is very affected by the disease, so it can have difficulty taking in a lot of fluids in the beginning. If you feel that your mouth is extremely dry, then it can be a good idea to start sucking on home made safe ice cubes. A soup of oats, possibly sweetened with an unsweetened juice, is a good start to taking in foods again. It could also be a good idea to drink some carrot juice to support the liver. It can be a great help to eat grated apples, which is best eaten with a teaspoon. I don’t chemically know why it should be eaten with a teaspoon, but my earlier experiences have taught me that it works. A possible explanation is, that you eat the apple more slowly and chew it more. If you feel you are getting better, it might do you good to eat a piece of toasted bread, but it has to be without butter, or you could use some of the grated apple to put on top. Also a bit of boiled mashed potatoes will do you good. The mashed potatoes must be made with water, without any added butter. You can also choose to add some unsweetened yogurt, preferably ecological. Slightly paradoxically I also recommend a bit of banana, when your diarrhea has slowed down. Rice can help stop diarrhea, but I would never advise starting with it, except when dealing with babies, children, or weak persons. It is my opinion that you will benefit far more by really cleaning out your system, even though it can be quite tough on the stomach. This obviously only applies if you normally are strong and healthy. I usually say, that when you start to feel hungry, then you can probably endure eating. However, do be careful about meals that can be too heavy, or rich in substance. If you want some meat, then stick to chicken or turkey. You should also stay away from food that have been heavily seasoned for the first few days, even if you are otherwise feeling better. The spices can help the nausea persist.

Dietary supplements

The most important thing when strengthening your intestinal system and thereby helping your immune system, is to get a good lactic acid, also called probiotics. If you don’t know which the best for you is, get information about the different products in your local health food store.

  • It can be a good idea to supplement with Spirulina. Spirulina is a green algae, which comes both in tablet form or as a powder that you can mix into your smoothies. It contains both vitamins, minerals, and 60% of Spirulina is protein. Moreover, it’s rich in fiber and doesn’t contain fats. It cleanses your body of heavy metals and other toxins, so it’s often called a natural probiotic.
  • Chlorella, which is also a kind of algae, can be taken together with the Spirulina. That way you will get a proper elevation of your energy levels for your immune system and a unique super booster too.
  • Active charcoal can also be used to fight a poisoning, it is good at removing the toxins from the system. Preferably use active charcoal made from coconut shells. Just as a precaution I would like to mention, that active charcoal is not the same as regular charcoal, so stay away from the charcoal briquets from the BBQ!
    If you choose active charcoal, make sure that you drink plenty of water, at least 12 – 16 glasses a day. Active charcoal needs to be consumed a couple of hours before you eat or take other dietary supplements or medicine.
    When you buy active charcoal, you have to ensure that it doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners. You could perhaps add a bit of juice, if it just doesn’t go down in its natural form.
  • Matcha tea can also be a good idea, to support your immune system. It is filled with antioxidants and gives the body a healthy and natural source of energy.
  • A good vitamin-B supplement, which consists of all the different B vitamins, can help you gain energy and strength.
  • It can also be a good idea with a supplement of garlic, it is generally good for the immune system and works as an antibacterial.
  • Apple cider vinegar is good for the digestion. It helps you digest the food. It contains both vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Mix a couple of teaspoons in a glass of water.

Tips

If possible, try to avoid food poisoning. You have to be very careful with meat and especially sausages, and you must be even more careful if you are visiting hot climate countries. When you eat fruit and vegetables, you must make sure that you clean them properly before eating. When I washed my vegetables in Mexico, I used bottled water, as I have no idea what could be in the tap water. If you go to a restaurant, ask them not to put ice cubes in your drinks. It is better to eat fruit you can peel such as oranges or bananas. Make sure that the bananas are sealed both at the top and the bottom, so you don’t make the same mistake that I did! Before you travel to a new country, make sure that you start taking a lactic acid bacterium one week prior to your arrival, and make sure you bring some extra in case something unforeseen happens. Don’t drink the water from the tap, but instead buy your drinking water. You should also use bottled water when you brush your teeth. Make sure that you clean your hands often and bring rubbing alcohol and/or wet wipes, keeping you hands clean goes a long way. Avoid dairy products, especially if you have just had diarrhea. It can be difficult for a while for the stomach to digest the milk sugars. If you like street food, then find those places that seem clean, and only eat the pieces that are burning hot. Bacteria doesn’t like high temperatures. It can be soups, fried food, or stews. If you air-travel, keep in mind that studies have shown that the small tray tables in front of you are filled with bacteria, so it might be a good idea to use one of your wet wipes to clean it before use. As H.C. Andersen said: “to travel is to live”. Don’t let your travels be controlled by fear. Make sure that you have great travel experiences often. This will also strengthen your immune system.

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