Stomach Flu

I’m recovering from a bout of gastroenteritis AKA the stomach flu for about a week now. This is the worst case of gastro I have ever had. Well, the other adult in my house had it worse than me… I was confined to my bed for 1.5 days due to extreme fatigue, muscle aches and headache. Three days of runny diarrhea. Nausea and stomach upset. Intolerance to coffee and dairy. 3 lbs lost. I guess it’s not that bad compared to my bout of gastritis earlier this year which left me with a modified diet for a month and spearheaded a weight loss of 15 lbs. Which I needed but that’s besides the point.

After a week, here is what I did to get myself back on my feet.

1) I never stopped having my kefir for breakfast. Even when I just couldn’t eat. I stuck with a half portion of steel cut oats with blueberries, honey and kefir. I took out the flax, hemp hearts, tumeric, black pepper, prunes and granola.

2) When the diarrhea stopped, i started having a small serving of real, fermented kimchi a day. I moved to twice a day, the changed to real fermented sauerkraut (Thanks Holy Kraut!) a few times a day.

3) My order of Florastor arrived today and I started taking that.

4) I avoided coffee after it started upsetting my stomach and just returned to it  today with no ill effects.

5) The only dairy I have eaten is the kefir, and a tiny amount of shredded cheese on a toddler sized portion of pizza.  I’m going to try ice cream tomorrow and see what happens.

6) I stocked up on probiotic foods to replenish the good bacteria. I prefer food to supplements so that I know I am getting live bacteria. This just knocked the wind out of me so I went with the pills (Florastor) for the first time.

7) I normally eat a diet rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics are food for the bacteria. Oatmeal, raw fruits and veggies anything with a substantial fibre component.

Here are my purely unscientific, foodie opinions on gut flora, and building a better microbiome. I think this is a trending topic these days.

Lactose intolerance. I was never lactose intolerant growing up. I used to chug a few glasses of milk every day. Over the years I have developed intolerance to varying degrees, so much that I have cut out drinking milk from the glass in my diet. I have built tolerance to the point that I can consume yogurt, cheese, ice cream and butter in moderate quantities with no issue.  A few things do affect my tolerance for dairy. Hormone shifts, and any type of gastrointestinal inflammation.  I get diarrhea and I know I’ve had too much. Well, with the gastritis, I pretty much couldn’t eat anything.

Caffeine intolerance. I have had this many times. Definitely hormone influenced. Also influenced by gastrointestinal inflammation.  I get nauseated when my tolerance is low. I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but when my tolerance is good, I can drink 3 cups a day. I normally drink one or two.

Jellyfish intolerance. This one is strange. I am not allergic  to seafood, but I throw up shortly after eating it.

Soy intolerance. This one is also strange. I used to eat a lot of tofu growing up. But I suspect it gave me awful periods because of the phytoestrogen. I can eat fermented soy like miso, soy sauce and tempeh. But I need to steer clear of tofu (which I love), soymilk and edamame. One serving every couple of weeks is fine.

I am a foodie. I have tried all sorts of things.  Century eggs, chicken feet, stinky tofu, sweetmeats, natto, durian, fungus other than mushrooms, blue rare beef, pretty well all shellfish (I love crab guts!) and some kind of preserved clam that smells like stinky socks. Even with my penchant for local, healthy and organic food, I still venture to the Chinese grocery store and buy those unidentified packages of dried ingredients my mom used to cook, mostly in soup, in my childhood. Who knows what they put in that stuff. Ok, there are a few things I won’t eat. Insects, worms, and some others that aren’t top of mind right now. Oh, and this!

I think with a diversity in diet comes a huge diversity in the bacteria that populate the gut. I have no identifiable food allergies, just intolerances. I suspect that my eagerness to try new foods as a youth has given me a healthy gut. I read some research somewhere that people in developing countries have a more diverse gut microbiome than westernized countries and less incidence of food allergies.

I have traveled a bit, but not in the last ten years or so. I’ve been to Mexico (not a resort), Belize (island kayaking and camping), Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong (love the street food!) and Great Britain. The US. doesn’t count. My trip to SE Asia was with GAP Adventures and it was stay where the locals stay, eat where they eat kind of a trip. I only got sick once, and that was in Thailand. I suspect that I may have my gut microbiome to thank for my tolerance.

After my bout with gastritis, I caught 2 colds in a row. I didn’t even recover from the first before I got the second. Even with kids, before the gastritis, I caught very few colds.  There is definitely a link between the gut and the immune system.

Moral of the story? Trust your gut. Take care of it, and it will take care of you. Full stop.