Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and small intestines which is usually cause by a viral, bacterial infections or the effects of bacteria on other toxins. The main symptoms are diarrhoea and vomiting which is the body’s way of trying to get to infective agent out of your system as quickly as possible.

Some bacteria, such as staphyloccus aureas contain a toxin which has a direct effect on the wall of the bowel, causing increased contractions which give rise to abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting. Cholera binds to the cells on the surface of the bowel and secretes toxins that stimulate the cells to increase the production of water and salts. This can cause copious watery diarrhoea which can lead to total dehydration and collapse.

If you suspect a bacterial infection you should consult your doctor.

Most cases of are gastroenteritis mild and brief and need no treatment other than the replacement of fluids and salts which are lost. Severe diarrhoea which lasts for more than 48 hours (24 hours in children) should be investigated. Don’t use over the counter remedies to stop diarrhoea, as they can mask the underlying cause. If there is an infection, such as food poisoning, your body needs to get rid of the toxins!

Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)

Supplement/Herb What it does Dosage
Multivitamin and mineral formula Replaces vital nutrients which are lost. High potency formula as directed
Acidophilus To replenish the good bacteria in the gut. 1 capsule after each meal.
Slippery elm Has soothing and healing properties, particularly to the mucous membranes of the digestive system. as directed

Diet and Lifestyle Factors

Replacing lost fluids is vitally important. You can make your own rehydration drinks by adding 8 teaspoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of salt to a litre of boiled water and drinking small amounts at frequent intervals.

Avoid all dairy products for the first 48 hours. If you have been unable to eat, reintroduce bland foods such as banana, boiled rice, apples, wholemeal toast. Try blueberries fresh, frozen or as a juice.

Tea contains tannins which can inhibit diarrhoea, drink some without tea or sugar.

Papaya or pineapples are naturally anti-inflammatory and help digestion.

Prevention

Make sure all kitchen surfaces where food is prepared are kept clean.

Always wash your hands after using the toilet.

Defrost meat and poultry thoroughly before cooking and make sure they’re cooked until the juices run clear. The exception to this is beef, because the outside of a steak or joint of beef gets very hot, it kills off E coli bacteria. However when the meat is minced and made into burgers, the E coli is spread and will be present in the middle of the burger.

Use separate chopping boards for raw and cooked meat.

Keep raw meat in the bottom of the fridge so that blood cannot drip onto other foods.

When travelling abroad:

Don’t eat undercooked meat or shellfish.

Peel all fruit.

Use bottled water and refuse ice if it has been made with tap water.

Don’t eat salads unless you have prepared them yourself and washed ingredients thoroughly.

Avoid buffet type restaurants where food is left exposed.

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