By Naini Setalvad
Gastroenteritis is no cakewalk, but the right diet and vigilance on your part will have you up and about in no time, says Naini Setalvad
Gastroenteritis is a common occurrence during the pre-monsoon period, when the season is changing, temperatures are extremely high, and humidity levels are soaring. This plays havoc within our body, leading to severe indigestion and eventually gastroenteritis. The main cause is a viral infection which is why it is also called a stomach flu. Another cause is eating unhygienic food that can irritate the stomach. Spoiled food, which is common in this season, has parasites that cause gastroenteritis. Contaminated water is a major culprit too, so it is important to keep the water boiled or to choose bottled water when out.
The symptoms of this ailment include a swollen and distended stomach, inflamed intestines, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, abdominal pain and vomiting.
Antibiotics won’t do anything to treat stomach flu. If anything, antibiotics will make it worse because antibiotics kill the good bacteria in your intestinal tract, making you more susceptible to severe abdominal cramps. If your symptoms don’t go away within 48 hours, you have sharp, localised pains, develop a high fever, or have blood in your vomit or stool, it is a good idea to call your doctor immediately.
As the fluid loss will be severe, and you will lose a lot of salts and sugar, you would need to increase fluid intake, If accompanied by vomiting, do not immediately consume fluids after throwing up. Wait for at least half an hour and then have fluids in small amounts (frequent sips).
In order to relieve symptoms of gastroenteritis, initially a liquid diet is recommended. Restrict your diet to clear liquids (water and juices) throughout the day. Fluids that contain high amounts of sugar and electrolytes (potassium, sodium) can also help reduce diarrhea.
A person suffering from gastroenteritis has to avoid certain foods, until he feels better. One can easily recover from this disorder by following a proper diet that prevents fluid loss.
Drinking clear fruit juices like orange juice with salt/ lemon water, cumin powder and jaggery plus apple juice can help relieve the patient’s pain.
The next day, if you are feeling better, you can have white rice with a light water-based vegetable like white gourd or ridge gourd cooked with salt, cumin and minimum oil. You can also have pureed apple, and ripe bananas, plus lemon water with salt and roasted cumin powder.
Avoid greasy and fried foods, as they can aggravate the condition. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, paneer and ice-cream must not be eaten as they can aggravate diarrhea. Also avoid consumption of alcohol or caffeinated beverages such as coffee.
After the symptoms subside, for a few days stick to a vegetarian diet with water-based vegetables; opt for moong dal as a protein option as it is light. Introduce dairy products slowly and in small quantities, beginning with buttermilk spiced with salt and cumin.
The symptoms of gastroenteritis generally subside in three days. Remain with home-cooked food and avoid eating outside for 15 days. Having large meals during this period is not recommended, as the stomach is not in a position to properly digest solid foods. It is important to have frequent small meals that are spaced evenly throughout the day, and lots of water. After a week, the patient can start eating other cooked vegetables, fruits and low-fat milk products in small amounts.
Most people recover within a short time by drinking fluids and following the prescribed diet. If the diet mentioned above is implemented strictly, it will reduce the healing time of the stomach and the intestines. In short, the gastrointestinal tract will recover faster ,and the patient will soon be back to normal.
Foods that fight gas, bloating and nausea
Lime water with apple
1 glass water
1/2 lemon juice
2 tsps jaggery powder
1/2 tsp grated ginger
black salt to taste
1-2 tbsp grated apple
Pinch of pepper powder
Take one glass water.
Add lemon juice, jaggery powder, salt, pepper and ginger.
Mix well. Strain the water. Put it in a glass.
Add grated apple and garnish it with mint leaves and serve.
Avoid these until healed
|Legumes||Most beans, especially dried beans and peas, baked beans, soy beans, lima beans|
|Milk & milk products||Milk; ice-cream; and cheese|
|Vegetables||Cabbage; radishes; onions; broccoli; Brussels sprouts; cauliflower; cucumbers; sauerkraut; kohlrabi; asparagus|
|Root vegetables||Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams|
|Cereals, breads||All foods that contain wheat and wheat products including cereals, breads, and pastries. Check labels.|
|Fatty foods||Pan-fried or deep-fried foods; fatty meats; rich cream sauces and gravies; pastries. (While fatty foods are not carbohydrates, they too can contribute to intestinal gas.)|
|Liquids||Carbonated beverages, medications, or powders|
Sample menu for low intestinal gas production
|• orange juice• plus banana||• white gourd vegetable with steamed rice• in between lemon water with cumin and salt and a banana||• Ridge gourd vegetable with white rice|
About the author: Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist, specializing in lifestyle and immunity disorders. Her foundation, Health For You, throws light on healthy food habits.
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