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How To Restore Gut Health After Stomach Flu? [Answered]

Published By: Dr. Jeffrey Mark
Date: February 15, 2024

Stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, is a common illness characterized by inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It is often caused by viruses such as norovirus or rotavirus and can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sickness, muscle aches, abdominal cramps, and fever.

While the illness typically resolves on its own within a few days, the effects on your digestive system can linger, leaving you feeling weak and depleted. In this guide, we'll discuss effective strategies for restoring gut health post-stomach flu and getting back on track to feeling your best.

Understanding Stomach Flu/ Stomach Bug:

Before delving into recovery strategies, it's important to understand the impact of stomach flu on your digestive system. The infection disrupts the balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to inflammation and irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.

This disruption can result in symptoms such as diarrhea, which can further deplete your body of fluids and electrolytes, leading to dehydration. Additionally, the vomiting associated with stomach flu can further upset the delicate balance of your gut microbiome.

Restoring Gut Health After Stomach Flu:

Recovery from stomach flu involves more than just waiting for symptoms to subside. It requires proactive measures to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes, support your immune system, and restore balance to your gut microbiome. Here are some key strategies to help you bounce back:

Hydration and Electrolyte Balance:

hydration

One of the most important aspects of recovery from stomach flu is staying hydrated. Dehydration can exacerbate symptoms and prolong recovery time.

Try sipping of mixtures like water, coconut water, ginger drinks, broth, and electrolyte-rich drinks like sports drinks or oral rehydration solutions. If you have a lot of nausea and can’t tolerate fluids, you can try to take popsicles.

If you cannot tolerate any fluids including water without vomiting or diarrhea, you should be prepared to go to the nearest hospital with an emergency room (ED) These fluids also help replace lost fluids and electrolytes, restoring balance to your body.

You can estimate your hydration status by looking at the color of your urine or pinching your skin and seeing if it tents up.

Bland Diet- What to Eat and What to Avoid:

During the acute phase of stomach flu, it's best to stick to bland foods that are easy on the stomach. This typically includes foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, toast (the BRAT diet), boiled potatoes, and plain crackers.

Avoid spicy, fatty, or heavily seasoned foods, as these can further irritate your stomach and exacerbate symptoms. If you have a lot of diarrhea you should definitely avoid dairy or milk products and instead consider using a hydration powder like Ceralyte which is rice-based and based on a World Health Organization formula of rice and sugar.

This formulation helped treat cholera and other life-threatening diarrhea leading to significant dehydration.

Probiotics:

Rebuilding Healthy Gut Bacteria:

To restore gut health after stomach flu, consume dietary probiotics gradually; these foods slowly nourish, helping displace harmful bacteria and replenishing essential minerals, so you feel better.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore balance to your gut microbiome after stomach flu. They can be found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, as well as in supplement form.

You can also read our article where we have discussed the health benefits of Yogurt.

Probiotics help repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria, which can aid in digestion and support your immune system. Certain probiotic strains, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii, have been shown to reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea associated with stomach flu and other gastrointestinal infections.

Other Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria in significant amounts like 220 billion colony-forming units can be very helpful. Prebiotics such as inulin, under-ripe bananas, cold baked potatoes, or supplements such as Perfect Bacterial Fuel.

Sources of Probiotics:

Probiotics foods

Probiotics can be obtained from a variety of sources, including:

  • Fermented Foods: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and miso are all rich sources of probiotic bacteria.
  • Probiotic Supplements: Probiotic supplements are available in capsule, tablet, powder, and liquid forms and contain concentrated doses of beneficial bacteria.
  • Fortified Foods: Some foods, such as certain breakfast cereals, juices, and dairy products, are fortified with probiotics.

Recommended Post For You: The Best Yogurt for Probiotics

Choosing the Right Probiotic:

When selecting a probiotic supplement or fermented food, it's essential to consider several factors:

  • Strain Specificity: Different probiotic strains may have distinct effects on gut health, so choose a product that contains strains that have been researched for their efficacy in treating gastrointestinal conditions.
  • CFU Count: Look for products that provide an adequate number of colony-forming units (CFUs) per serving, typically ranging from 1 billion to 100 billion CFUs.
  • Viability: Ensure that the probiotic bacteria are alive and viable at the time of consumption by choosing products that are refrigerated or have undergone rigorous quality control measures to maintain potency.

Incorporating Probiotics Into Your Diet:

  • To reap the benefits of probiotics, aim to incorporate a variety of probiotic-rich foods into your diet regularly. Consider the following tips:
  • Include a serving of probiotic-rich foods with each meal, such as yogurt with breakfast, sauerkraut with lunch, or kefir as a snack.
  • Experiment with different fermented foods and probiotic supplements to find the ones that work best for you and your digestive system.
  • Be mindful of your individual tolerance to probiotics and start with small servings to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.

Avoiding Irritating Foods:

Opt for soothing foods like oatmeal and lemon water to restore gut health after stomach flu; avoid irritating foods that may contribute to dizziness and keep them out of the fridge to support bodily recovery.

In addition to spicy and fatty foods, it's important to avoid any foods that may irritate your already sensitive digestive system. This includes foods high in fiber, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners.

Stick to bland, easily digestible foods until your symptoms have subsided.  A temporary trial of a 6-food elimination diet including gluten soy corn, dairy, milk, and, meat shellfish.

Gradually Reintroducing Solid Foods:

As your symptoms improve, you can begin to gradually reintroduce solid foods into your diet. Start with small, bland meals and gradually increase the complexity as tolerated.

Pay attention to how your body responds to different foods and avoid anything that triggers a recurrence of symptoms. Some people notice that their bowels are better with digestive enzymes.

Supporting Your Immune System:

In addition to focusing on your digestive health, it's important to support your immune system during recovery from stomach flu and you can't do that with an imbalance diet.

Get plenty of rest, consume a balanced diet rich in vitamins and nutrients, and consider taking immune-boosting supplements such as vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea.

Rest and Self-Care: Finally, prioritize rest and self-care during your recovery period. Listen to your body and give yourself permission to rest and recuperate. Avoid strenuous physical activity and stressful situations, and focus on activities that promote relaxation and healing, such as gentle stretching, meditation, or reading.

When to Seek Medical Attention: While stomach flu typically resolves on its own within a few days, there are certain circumstances where you should seek medical attention.

These include:

  • Seek medical advice when symptoms are severe such as persistent vomiting, high fever, or bloody diarrhea.
  • Signs of dehydration, such as extreme thirst, dry mouth, skin tenting, or dark urine.
  • Symptoms that worsen or fail to improve after a few days.
  • Concerns about underlying medical conditions or complications.

Conclusion:

Recovering from stomach flu involves more than just waiting for symptoms to pass. It requires proactive measures to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes, support your immune system, and restore balance to your gut microbiome.

By following the strategies outlined in this guide, you can expedite your recovery and get back to feeling your best. Remember to listen to your body, prioritize rest and self-care, and seek medical attention if needed. With time and patience, you'll soon be back on track to optimal digestive health.

Take Care, Stay Healthy,

Jeffrey Mark. M.D.,

The Real Gut Doctor

Dr. Jeffrey Mark
With over thirty years of experience, Dr. Mark is a leading expert in holistic gut health. His integrative approach combines conventional medicine, functional and regenerative medicine, and advanced therapies to heal the gut and transform patient health. Holding 5 board certifications, Dr. Mark offers the comprehensive expertise of five medical specialists during each patient visit. He is dedicated to optimizing wellbeing by addressing the gut-related root causes of chronic health issues.
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