What is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning is a condition, which develops after eating undercooked or contaminated foods laden with germs, such as Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Vibrio or norovirus.(1)
What are the Symptoms of Food Poisoning?
When someone eats contaminated food, then it causes food poisoning and its symptoms include: nausea, stomach cramping, vomiting, headache and diarrhea; all of which makes it difficult to keep the food down.(1) After the symptoms abate and vomiting subsides, then certain types of foods can be reintroduced gradually to restore the energy levels and replenish the lost fluids.
Best Foods to Eat After Food Poisoning
Bland foods are the best foods to eat after suffering from a bout of food poisoning, as they do not irritate the stomach and provide much needed nutrition. Water and other clear liquids are also highly recommended as they help in replacing the lost fluids and help in rehydrating the body after food poisoning.
BRAT Diet After Food Poisoning
One of the primary dietary recommendations for faster recovery from food poisoning or any other gastrointestinal illness is the BRAT diet. After having experienced food poisoning, the aim is to consume food items that do not stress the digestive symptoms and are easy to digest. BRAT diet is recommended for an upset stomach and it stands for: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast.
According to experts this kind of diet is best for helping someone recover from food poisoning, as these four foods in the BRAT diet are high in starch and bland in taste and thus they help binding the stools and decrease frequency of diarrhea.
There are some studies that have shown that rice and green bananas are helpful for kids suffering from diarrhea.(2, 3) However, there is more research needed to prove effectiveness of the BRAT diet. The BRAT diet has banana, which is rich in potassium which also helps in replenishing the lost electrolytes.(4)
Other foods which one should include in their diet after food poisoning are:
- Low-sugar oatmeal.
- Saltine crackers.
- Clear broths.
- Skinless baked chicken.
- Plain potatoes.
All the above are great to include in your diet after suffering from food poisoning, as these foods are not only bland, but are also rich in nutrients and starch. The longer a person suffers from food poisoning, the more protein is needed to help with the healing process and to avoid any muscle breakdown without sufficient calories and food.
After one is able to tolerate these mild foods, then you can start eating your regular foods within 24 to 48 hours of being able to go without vomiting or having diarrhea.
Eat Fermented Foods after Food Poisoning
Eating fermented foods to replace the lost good gut bacteria is also beneficial. Some of the fermented foods you can eat after food poisoning are: sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, tempeh and miso soup.
What to Drink After Food Poisoning?
After suffering from food poisoning, there is loss of fluids and electrolytes via vomiting and diarrhea. These minerals are important in maintaining the fluid balance in the body. To replenish these minerals one needs to drink oral rehydration solutions, such as Pedialyte, Oralyte and Ceralyte.(5) These drinks help in rehydration when suffering from food poisoning symptoms where you are not able to keep any drinks or foods down.
Other things to drinks after food poisoning are caffeine-free teas, such as lemon tea and ginger tea. Peppermint tea is also a good option as it helps in soothing the upset stomach.
At any cost, one should not consume caffeinated drinks when suffering from any stomach illness, as these drinks cause irritation to the gastric lining and the stomach and cause more dehydration as they are also diuretics.
Go for Probiotics After Food Poisoning
Studies have shown that Probiotics help in not only preventing, but also in recovering from food related illness.(6) You can take foods that contain healthy bacteria/probiotics or supplements. Some of the foods which are full of probiotics are: live yogurt, fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir.
What Foods to Avoid After Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning causes inflammation and irritation of the intestines and stomach. For this reason, it is important to avoid foods which can over-stimulate the stomach and cause further stomach upset. Some of the foods that one should avoid after food poisoning are:
High-fat foods such as fried foods like French fries, fried chicken and other such fat rich food items can worsen the diarrhea and cause faster emptying of the stomach.
Dairy Foods such as ice cream, cheese can cause worsening of stomach symptoms after food poisoning. So, choose less-irritating foods and hydrating beverages to replace lost fluid and nutrients and to give you energy to get better soon.
Spicy foods that are prepared using hot peppers cause irritation to the stomach and are best avoided after food poisoning.
Avoid Foods That Cause Bloating
Foods that are high in fermentable carbohydrates are also better avoided. These are called FODMAPs, and can cause bloating in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. There have been some studies, which indicate that cutting out FODMAPs help with food poisoning and may also help with cramping, bloating and gas.
Some of the foods that are high in FODMAPs are: garlic, apples, onions, cabbage and beans.
Drinks to Avoid After Food Poisoning
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is best to avoid electrolyte beverages, such as Powerade or Gatorade, as they do not replace any fluid lost via diarrhea.(7) Moreover, these drinks have high sugar content which can cause over-stimulating of the bowels and worsen the symptoms of food poisoning. If these drinks are the only option, then they should be diluted with water before consumption.
Other drinks to avoid after food poisoning are: caffeinated tea, coffee, milk and dark sodas. All these drinks greatly affect the hydration status of the patient and cause dehydration. When suffering from a case of food poisoning, the patient develops temporary lactose intolerance and hence should avoid milk.
When to Consult Your Doctor?
If you are suffering from the following symptoms along with food poisoning then seek medical attention immediately:
- Having a fever more than 101.5°F.
- Bloody stools that have red streaks or look like coffee grounds.
- If the diarrhea persists for more than 3 days.
- When experiencing extreme dehydration symptoms, decreased urine output, dizziness or dry mouth.
- Persistent vomiting which does not abate.
Intravenous fluids are needed when suffering from the above symptoms and also medications for diarrhea and vomiting should also be taken. In severe cases of food poisoning, antibiotics are also prescribed to fight the bacteria in the stomach.
Food poisoning is without a doubt an unpleasant condition; however, with the right diet and medicine, if needed, this condition gets better in few days. As you are improving, gradually start on hydrating beverages and bland foods to alleviate the symptoms and get back your strength.
However, if the dehydration symptoms persist or if there is blood in the vomit or stool, then it is important consult your doctor for the right treatment to overcome food poisoning and get better soon.