Food poisoning is serious business; nothing to be trifled with. According to estimates by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million people per year suffer some form of food poisoning. That’s roughly one in every six Americans. Degrees of poisoning vary, with some 128,000 needing hospitalization. Of those, roughly 3,000 die.
But food poisoning really isn’t poisoning. Rather, it is the name we use for food-borne illness. For it to be poisoning, it would actually have to be some sort of toxic chemical in the food. But it isn’t. Rather, food poisoning is caused by bacteria carried within the food. Specifically, salmonella and norovirus.
Ninety-one percent of all food-borne illness is caused by:
- Campylobacter – found in uncooked meat and contaminated water
- Clostridium perfingens – found in meat and poultry
- Coli – found in undercooked beef and unpasteurized milk
- Norovirus – found in oysters, fruits and vegetables
- Salmonella – found in eggs, meat and dairy products
- Staphyloccus – found in animal products, such as cream, eggs and milk
These pathogens are why proper cleaning and cooking of food is so important. Unwashed vegetables or undercooked meats can be carriers of these bacteria and viruses. However, cooking or even pasteurizing the food kills these pathogens, making it safe to eat. The problem comes when that is not properly done, specifically when the core temperature of the food doesn’t get hot enough to kill the bacteria.
Thanks to a 19th century French scientist, named Louis Pasteur, we know that raising the temperature to 158°F (70°C) will kill all bacteria. Hence, the process of pasteurization, like milk, in which foods are raised to 160°F (71°C); hot enough to kill the bacteria, but not hot enough to cook it. Meats are typically cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C)for the same reason.
When You’ve Got Food Poisoning
Food poisoning comes on slowly, appearing much like a stomach “bug” or the flu. In fact, it is often mistaken for either of those maladies. That’s mostly because the symptoms will be roughly the same:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite
So, how do you know when it is food poisoning and when it is something else? You really don’t. But that’s not really a problem, as regardless of whether it is food-borne illness or some other sort of illness, you basically need to deal with it. Since almost all illness is caused by bacteria and viruses, the treatment for food-borne illness, mosquito borne illness, or air-borne illness is about the same.
You can often treat food poisoning on your own with homemade cures that I’ll show you in a minute. You should go see a doctor when you have severe symptoms, such as:
- Signs of dehydration
- Inability to hold down liquids without vomiting
- Diarrhea that lasts longer than two days
- Severe gut pain or vomiting
- Fever of 102°F or higher
- Stools that are black, tarry or bloody
Using Homemade Remedies for Treating Food Poisoning
As I mentioned, unless your case of food poisoning becomes severe, you can treat it at home. Since this is actually a bacterial or viral infection, it’s really not much different than treating any other disease, such as a cold or flu. This means either killing off the pathogen (virus or bacteria) or flushing it out of your system.
While treating any case of food poisoning, be sure to keep hydrated. In many cases, it’s not the infection itself that kills, but the dehydration that it causes. Diarrhea flushes large amounts of water out of the body, making one prone to dehydration. That can kill. Replenish your body’s hydration by drinking water, sports drinks, clear sodas, decaffeinated tea and chicken broth. Don’t worry about drinking too much, as any excess with naturally flush out of your system.
Using Jell-O as a Treatment for Food Poisoning
In many cases, common foods can be used for treating food poisoning. Such is the case with gelatin, most commonly sold under the trade name “Jell-O.” This works because it absorbs the pathogens which are causing the disease, allowing your body to expel them.
To use Jell-O as a treatment, start by making hot liquid Jell-O. The recipe normally calls for this as the first step in preparing this food, followed by mixing it with cold water, before chilling. We’re going to ignore that second step and just chill the hot Jell-O, before drinking it as a liquid.
Bring one cop of clean, potable water to a boil. The water has to be boiling in order for the Jell-O to fully dissolve. This will end up being a supersaturated solution, so the Jell-O won’t fully dissolve if the water is not brought up to boiling temperature.
Mix in one small box of Jell-O or generic gelatin mix. Stir until the powder fully dissolves.
Turn off heat and chill the liquid Jell-O until it is back to room temperature. An ice bath can be used to help it cool quicker. It is then ready to drink. Drink the whole cup, repeating treatments as necessary.
Garlic has amazing medicinal properties, combining antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal elements all in one. This makes it one of the things we should all keep on hand in our herbal medicine cabinet. Cooking with a lot of garlic is also a good way of maintaining your health, as it will help keep your body clear of any unwanted pathogens.
In the case of food poisoning, you would want to eat garlic directly. You can either chew up whole cloves or eat minced garlic. In either case, the antibacterial and antiviral properties of the garlic will attack the pathogens causing the food poisoning directly.
Fenugreek & Yogurt
Fenugreek seed is a common natural remedy in Europe, but difficult to find here, even in health food stores. However, I was able to find it powdered and encapsulated at Wal-Mart. It can either be taken directly or mixed with yogurt and consumed.
While it is clear that feunnugreek has many positive medicinal properties and is a boost to the health, little is known about the specific ways in which it helps. Amongst those known are increasing breast milk production in women and testosterone production in men. It has been a part of Chinese medicine for centuries.
Yogurt has known antibacterial properties, as well as providing good bacteria for the digestive system. When using the two together, the proper ratio is one teaspoon of fenugreek to one tablespoon of yogurt. This should provide almost instantaneous relief from stomach pain and vomiting.
Ginger & Honey
Ginger has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, which include aiding in the absorption of essential nutrients. In this case, we are more interested in how it helps as a remedy for nausea and vomiting, providing relief from the symptoms of food poisoning.
Coupling the ginger with honey makes for a strong medicine. Honey, like garlic, is a strong antibacterial and antifungul (although it doesn’t act as an antiviral). While the two can be taken by mixing them together, they are most often used in tea, making them more palatable.
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