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Digestive Health

Updated 25 July 2018

Home remedies for gastroenteritis

Do you have gastroenteritis? We take a closer look at foods that could help you to manage your symptoms.

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Foods that help with the management of symptoms

Fluids and electrolytes

Water, soup, fruit juice, ‘sports’ drinks, oral-rehydration solution.

Prevent dehydration.

Probiotics

Foods such as yoghurt and kefir contain probiotics. Use only unsweetened yoghurt. Alternatively, take a probiotic supplement after consulting with your doctor.

Yoghurt contains live bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus which can give relief from symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Banana

  • Have a whole ripe banana.
  • Have a couple of slices of banana with unsweetened yoghurt.
  • Have frozen, mashed banana (mash in a processor for a creamy texture). This tastes like ice-cream.

Bananas are easy to digest, contain a high amount of amylase-resistant starch which helps to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms, and can replace the potassium and magnesium you lose with diarrhoea and vomiting.

Apples

  • Have a peeled apple (the skin’s fibre may aggravate your stomach).
  • Have some grated apple with yoghurt or oats porridge.

Apples provide good energy and contain pectin, which can help with diarrhoea by counteracting the bacteria that cause the diarrhoea, adding bulk to the stool and providing a soothing coating for the irritated intestinal walls.

Soluble fibre

Soluble fibre is found in oats, oat bran, beans, lentils, apples, pears, citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet corn, broccoli tops, peanuts and almonds. Remember to peel apples and pears if you have diarrhoea.

This type of fibre absorbs water in the intestines and makes stools firmer.

Foods that may help with the management of symptoms

Ginger

Add 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger root to 1 cup of boiling water; cover and allow to stand for 10 - 15 minutes; strain, add honey and sip this tea slowly.

Ginger has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and can reduce the frequency of diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps.

Apple cider vinegar

Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water. Drink 30 minutes before eating a meal.

The vinegar can soothe an irritated stomach and thereby reduce nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and gas.

Peppermint

Have some peppermint tea (add honey for taste).

This tea has antimicrobial and antispasmodic properties that help relieve gas, bloating, an upset stomach, nausea and cramps.

Chamomile

Have a cup of chamomile tea with some lemon or honey.

This tea has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can relieve symptoms like diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea and gas.

Basil

Boil 10 to 15 basil leaves in a cup of water; drink it with a pinch of salt or drink it as tea with honey.

Basil has antispasmodic properties, helping to improve abdominal cramps.

Foods that may worsen symptoms

Sugary foods

Very sugary foods and drinks may make diarrhoea symptoms worse in some people.

Sugar, and especially sugar substitutes, draw fluid into the intestines making the stools more watery.

Caffeine

Coffee, tea, caffeinated soft drinks and chocolate might make your bowels work faster.

Caffeine is a stimulant in the intestines, speeding up digestion and causing your bowels to empty faster.

Dairy

Milk, flavoured milk, yoghurt, yoghurt drinks and ice cream. Yoghurt is partly fermented and may be tolerated more easily. Use plain fat free yoghurt.

Some people have a problem with milk when they have gastroenteritis as it can be difficult to digest and may aggravate gas and diarrhoea.

Insoluble fibre

Skins of fruit and vegetables, bran.

This type of fibre makes the stools looser, so will worsen the diarrhoea.

Fat

Fried foods, fatty meat, bacon, creamy sauces.

These foods are difficult to digest and will add to the discomfort.

Spices

Curries, chilli.

Highly spicy foods may aggravate the stomach.

Reviewed by Kim Hofmann, registered dietitian, BSc Medical (Honours) Nutrition and Dietetics, BSc (Honours) Psychology. December 2017.

 

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