Food poisoning occurs when a person eats contaminated food. When food is altered by infectious organisms such as viruses, bacteria, or parasites, or any of the toxins they carry, it becomes poisonous. In most cases, food poisoning is not serious, but it is very unpleasant. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. Onset is typically within a few hours after eating the contaminated food. Severe cases are rare, but might require hospitalization. Take special care of what to eat after proper treatments.
What to Eat after Food Poisoning
Eating when you are suffering from food poisoning can be difficult, so start with fluids. Drinking can ease the nausea and vomiting you feel when food poisoned and fluids help your body flush the poisonous toxins. Drinking also helps you alleviate the foul aftertaste from the toxins released by the pathogens in the body.
- You should drink as much liquid as possible because the symptoms of food poisoning can leave you dehydrated. If drinking is too difficult, suck on frozen ice chips. Sweeten ice chips with fruit juice or fresh lemon juice in order to stave off the foul flavor.
- Barley and rice water are hydrating and also soothe inflammation in the stomach and intestines.
- Apple cider vinegar is another great option that has long been used as a remedy for food poisoning because it is believed to possess antimicrobial properties. Mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar into a warm cup of water and drink throughout the day.
- You can also try mild energy drinks or coconut water for an extra boost of electrolytes.
- Avoid coffee and soft drinks until your system has returned to normal.
2. Light Foods
Once you can handle liquids and ice chips, try a few light foods. In most food poisoning cases, it usually takes about a day to a day and a half before a person feels healthy enough to eat something light. Even if you are very hungry after a short bout of food poisoning, it is better to ease back into eating heavy foods.
- Try a small serving of apple, banana, or pear.
- If fruit is not appealing, you can eat boiled rice, dry toast, or light broth.
- If you are feeling up to it, chicken soup is a bit heavier, but has medicinal properties that can speed healing.
- Avoid most dairy (with the exception of yogurt), red meat, and very spicy foods until you are completely clear of symptoms.
- Vegetables are chock full of nutrients, but easy to digest when you are feeling ill. You can add a few mild spices before serving to combat the taste in your mouth. If necessary, drink the broth from the vegetables when you are not quite up to eating a full serving of solid veggies.
Researchers have also found that certain herbs may be effective for combating food poisoning. Herbal remedies are potent and can interfere with other medical conditions, so it is important to work with a trained and licensed herbalist or expert in Traditional Chinese Medicine when using herbs to treat food poisoning.
- Milk thistle has shown some of the greatest benefit and is often used to treat mushroom poisoning and liver disorders. Again, consult your doctor if you believe you have developed mushroom poisoning.
- Other herbs believed to be effective for treating Listeria include Asian ginseng, astragalus root, Chinese cinnamon bark, ginger root, licorice, peony root, and skullcap.
- Herbs effective for treating various strains of food poisoning include goldenseal, chamomile, bittervine, barberry, and Oregon grape.
4. Probiotics and Supplements
- Probiotics include Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, both of which aid in restoring balance to the bacteria in the intestines. Probiotics are found in yogurt, but they can also be taken in pill form with water or juice if you are not ready to eat.
- Vitamin A has shown promise for treating salmonella. Tests showed it eliminated bacteria from the body faster than the body’s natural response. Rats used in the test also had a better immune response when given vitamin A and they were able to gain weight faster during recovery.
- Another study tested calcium phosphate on rats infected with salmonella. Researchers believe the supplement increases Lactobacillus, helping to fight off salmonella poisoning.
- Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant found in beef, broccoli, and spinach. It is believed to be helpful for treating food poisoning from mushrooms. Keep in mind mushroom poisoning can be more serious than general food poisoning, so you will want to contact your doctor for guidance.
- If you typically take fish oil to manage your cholesterol, wait until you are fully recovered from food poisoning to resume your daily dosage. Fish oil adds bacteria to the spleen and can be problematic for those with Listeria food poisoning or an unknown strain of food poisoning.
When to See a Doctor
Though food poisoning is usually mild and quick to pass, there are instances in which it is severe and a doctor’s attention is necessary. If you experience any of the following symptoms when suffering from food poisoning, seek medical attention immediately:
- Vomiting blood
- Vomiting induced by a liquid-only diet
- More than three days of severe diarrhea
- Bowel movements containing blood
- Oral temperature higher than 101.5 F (38.6 C)
- Extreme pain or cramping in the abdominal area
- Symptoms of dehydration including dry mouth, little to no urination, severe dizziness or weakness, excessive thirst
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty speaking
- Double vision
- Muscle weakness with a downward progression
Food poisoning is not contagious, but if you have contracted it from food purchased from a restaurant or supermarket, it is possible for others to be exposed. If you believe you have food poisoning, contact your local health department so they can warn the public. You will likely be asked to describe where and what you ate, when your symptoms developed, and what your symptoms include.