October 18, 2018

How Do You Treat Food Poisoning?

Ask The Doctor > Gut Health > How Do You Treat Food Poisoning?

Most of us have experienced food poisoning at one point or another in our lives. For the lucky few who haven’t, it’s always good to be prepared. And for those of you who don’t really know what food poisoning is, here’s a little food poisoning cheat sheet!

Food poisoning happens when an unlucky diner ingests food contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella or E.coli, moldy food, and cross-contaminated food – like when raw pork and chicken cross paths before being cooked. This is why there are so many strict laws, rules and regulations when it comes to cooking for the masses, and why we all have to be so careful and conscious, even when we’re just cooking at home.

None of us want food poisoning. We don’t want to even try to tolerate all of those uncomfortable, painful symptoms that come with it either. So, we have to pay attention when we’re eating! However, you don’t want to hear that if you’ve already been food poisoned, here are a few ways to soundly fight it off.

According to the Mayo Clinic, waging the war between you and food poisoning can be won by getting plenty of rest, and slowly easing yourself back into eating by taking small sips of water or clear soda, and eating bland foods like soda crackers and toast. They also advise you to stay away from substances like caffeine and alcohol, and fatty, highly seasoned foods until you start to get better. Maybe this series of unfortunate events can be a good old excuse to sit back and try to relax on your couch. Take the opportunity here to binge-watch your favorite TV shows or movies. You always have to find a silver lining!

The good news though, is that there is a plethora of ways to avoid getting food poisoned. First things first, always avoid eating raw or undercooked meat and poultry. It’s one of the very first indicators that you could be food poisoned. This means that when you are at a restaurant, don’t be shy to send your ordered dish straight back to the kitchen if it’s undercooked, because sometimes it can mean your life. Secondly, don’t eat raw eggs – they wouldn’t taste any good anyways. Always avoid unpasteurized milk and cheeses, too. They invented the process of pasteurization for a reason!

Hand washing is key. You must always wash your hands after encountering people who are sick, the elderly, being in public spaces and going to the bathroom. Always wash your hands after you’ve been around reptiles, rodents and other pets, whether you’re cooking or eating. No matter how cute they are, you don’t want to take in any of their potential germs.

And then there’s simply the case of how much you trust the restaurant you are visiting. Have a mental checklist for when you walk in the door. Where are their licenses, certifications, and other important papers you can see? Do they even have them? Is the restaurant itself a clean, healthy-seeming place? Are there other diners in the facility and does it get good reviews online? Notice other customers food, does it look appetizing?

These are all of the things that we have to do to ensure that we are not next in the line of food poisoning. While it may seem outlandish, eccentric and odd, you would have to be either really naïve or really brave to not take these very necessary precautions. Food poisoning can sometimes come with potential risks, making it a real problem to encounter, especially for small children, the elderly, and those who have weakened immune systems. Protect the people you love, be careful what you cook, and be careful what you eat. Food poisoning can be bad news, so use these tips to fight against it.

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Dr. Jimmy Obaji M.D.

Dr. Jimmy Obaji completed his residency in Family Medicine at the University of Manitoba. He currently operates a walk-in-clinic in downtown Toronto.

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