With the arrival of monsoons come a plethora of diseases. The increased risk of water contamination in the season leads to higher chance of food contamination. Food poisoning is one of the most common food-borne illnesses and occurs when one consumes food products contaminated by bacteria and other toxins.
The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, low grade fever, headache, weakness and headache. Depending on the source of contamination and the types of bacteria, the symptoms and their severity could differ. Food poisoning usually occurs within 2-36 hours of consuming contaminated food. Infants, elderly, pregnant women, people with weakened immune system are most susceptible to this disease. People usually recover from food poisoning within a couple of days. Death from food poisoning is rare. The main concern while providing correct nutrition to the body during food poisoning is to supply the right nutrients and maintain a proper fluid supply to the body to prevent dehydration.
Certain dietary guidelines to remember during food poisoning are:Avoid milk and milk products during food poisoning, as it may aggravate diarrhoea.
Drink lots of fluids to replenish the fluid reserves of the body. Electrolyte solutions will also be beneficial. Drink boiled water.
Avoid consumption of solid food, as it’s difficult to digest.
The BRAT diet, which consists of banana, rice, apple and toast, is usually suggested during severe diarrhea as it’s extremely east to digest.
Barley or rice water has proved to be beneficial in healing an inflamed stomach and intestine.
Consume probiotics from food or via supplements to restore the function of the intestinal tract.
As the diarrhea and vomiting subsides, introduce soft, easily digestible foods in the diet like khichdi, porridge, upma, oats, bhurji, etc. Pulses,legumes and vegetables should be avoided.
It is advisable to eat freshly cooked food only. Avoid raw vegetables and fruits.
Avoid oily, sweet and spicy food unless you’ve completely recovered.
Lemon-ginger juice is beneficial for digestive problems.
Avoid eating raw eggs, meat, poultry, as they could be potential bacterial-pools.
Maintaining hygiene and optimum sanitary conditions while preparing foods is extremely important.
Unhygienic methods of cooking are one of the main causes of food poisoning. Basic rules like washing hands thoroughly before handling food products, keeping kitchen surfaces clean, washing foods thoroughly before cooking them, are favourable practices.
Intense cases require hospital care, but food poisoning is an easy to handle disease if care is taken at the correct time. The focus is more on providing nutrient dense foods and a good supply of fluid to the body. Just a bit of vigilance in terms of food handling and food poisoning can be sorted.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre