4 Home Remedies for Food Poisoning to Help You Feel Better ASAP

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Most people have experienced food poisoning at least once in their life. Having an upset stomach after finishing a meal is unfortunate, uncomfortable, and often, memorable. We all have a war story to bring out when food poisoning is mentioned!

Food poisoning is an umbrella term that covers every disease and illness you can get from eating contaminated food. It can lead to an upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, a fever, and more. You don't have to experience all the possible symptoms in order to have food poisoning—many times you'll have two or three, depending on the severity of your case.

Food poisoning is also known as a foodborne illness, and depending on the contaminant in your food, it can be very serious—some people with foodborne illnesses require hospitalization. Every year, 1 in 6 Americans experience food poisoning, however, most people will get better on their own. In fact, researchers have identified over 250 foodborne illnesses.

Causes of Food Poisoning

Depending on the contaminant in your food, the symptoms will vary in severity. Food poisoning is most often caused by bacteria and viruses, but there are a few other causes for food poisoning as well. Here are the most common causes:

Bacteria and Viruses

Bacteria and viruses are the most common cause of food poisoning. Some better-known examples of these are E. Coli, Norovirus, Salmonella, Staph, and Hepatitis A. Of course, these are just a few of the more common bacteria and viruses. There are actually many more that can cause food poisoning. The severity of your symptoms will depend on exactly which bacteria or virus you ingested.

Some of these irritants, such as E. Coli or Salmonella, can result in hospitalization depending on your body’s reaction to them. Oftentimes, hospitalization will occur if the person cannot drink enough fluids, needs antibiotics, or has developed another condition as a result of food poisoning.

For example, those who ingest E. Coli can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which causes an iron deficiency, low urine production, and dark urine. HUS generally is treated with dialysis or blood transfusions.  

Bacteria and viruses are generally microscopic organisms that exist everywhere. There is no definitive way to avoid getting them on your food. Your food can come into contact with these things anywhere and at any time—it is always best to wash your produce and thoroughly cook your food, to help reduce the bacteria it contains.

Parasites

Parasites are organisms that live inside you, taking your body’s nutrients. Parasites can cause abdominal and muscle pain, diarrhea, cough, weight loss, loss of nutrients, neurological symptoms, and skin lesions. The most common types of parasites found in foods are protozoa, roundworms, and tapeworms.

Foods at risk for transmitting parasites include raw or undercooked seafood and meats, raw aquatic plants, and raw vegetables contaminated by feces. Parasites get into your food if the animal had parasites, or if the food was contaminated by the feces of an animal that had parasites. Considering this, the best way to avoid parasites is to ensure all of your food is properly cleaned and cooked. 

Mold, Toxins, and Allergens

Toxins can refer to natural toxins or added chemical toxins. An example of a natural toxin might be mold. Molds are microscopic fungi that can grow on your food. They can cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions, as well as produce mycotoxins that can make you sick.

If you see mold on food, it is not safe to cut the mold off and eat the rest. That's because the part you can see is not all of the mold—there are roots that reach deep into the food itself. Eating food that shows signs of mold can cause food poisoning and make you ill.  

Of course, mold is an example of an allergen, but there are many allergens that can contaminate food. This is why many foods sold in stores have a warning if they may contain an allergen. Some examples of allergens include nuts, milk, gluten, and soy. Those are food items, but even things like pollen can contaminate foods. 

Natural Remedies for Food Poisoning

Natural remedies can help to alleviate the symptoms of food poisoning, but these remedies are not a replacement for seeing a doctor. Here are some natural remedies to get you feeling better.

Eat or Drink Ginger

Studies have shown that eating ginger can help you settle your stomach. Ginger is effective in reducing nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients, and it can help you, too. There are many ways to ingest ginger. You can make food with ginger in it, or make ginger tea.

To make ginger tea, soak a few small cubes of ginger in hot water. After a few minutes, remove the ginger cubes and add honey for taste. When the tea is at the right temperature, drink it to alleviate your upset stomach. Ginger is considered safe to ingest, even for pregnant women. It can cause mild heartburn in rare cases but is not dangerous.

Hydrate and Replace Electrolytes

Food poisoning often results in nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, all of which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can make food poisoning symptoms worse.

Fluid and electrolyte therapy is recommended for those who are experiencing nausea and vomiting. If you can drink fluids at home, be sure to drink plenty of water. You could also drink sports beverages, which will help replenish your electrolytes quickly.

If you cannot drink fluids at home for more than a day, you should seek emergency care. Doctors at the hospital can replace your electrolytes and hydrate you using intravenous fluid therapy (IV). In order to receive an IV, the doctor would put a small needle into your vein and the fluids would flow through that needle and into your body. It does not hurt, with the exception of the small pinch you feel when the needle enters your skin.

Eat Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria in your digestive system that aid in digestion. Adding probiotics to your diet can help to maintain the balance of different kinds of bacteria in your stomach.

Bacteria are natural inhabitants of the stomach, and some bacteria actually help you digest your food. Some bacteria, however, are harmful and can cause food poisoning. Because probiotics balance the various bacterias in your stomach, they can be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of food poisoning.

Probiotics can counteract the harmful bacteria in your stomach. It can also be helpful to consume probiotics after you recover from food poisoning. They can help to settle your stomach and restore your stomach’s environment. You can find probiotics in teas, supplements, and even some foods, such as yogurt.

Eat Bland Foods

Eating bland foods without spices can help to keep your stomach settled while you are experiencing symptoms of food poisoning.

Emergency room physician, Jay Woody, MD, FACEP, ABEM, chief medical officer of Intuitive Health and a co-founder of Legacy ER & Urgent Care, recommends avoiding spices, fats, and most dairy. These things can cause waves of nausea and vomiting. Dr. Woody instead recommends broth and crackers as light, bland foods to eat while your stomach is upset.

The BRAT diet is a helpful way to keep to bland foods. It consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. This diet is recommended by Chantel Strachan, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University. Dr. Strachan reports that the BRAT diet can alleviate diarrhea and reduce symptoms of indigestion. 

A Word From VeryWell

Most people with foodborne illnesses get better on their own. However, those with severe or long-lasting symptoms should see a health care professional to rule out any severe foodborne illnesses or other possible causes. It is always better to see a doctor, just to be safe.

Natural remedies are intended to help alleviate symptoms but are not a replacement for seeing a medical professional. A medical professional can provide a diagnosis, treatment, and can also help you choose the right natural remedies for your body.

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9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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