Health Issues: What are the causes and symptoms of food poisoning?

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Feeling sick? It could be food poisoning.

By Dr. Michael Miles

Special to the Crier

Food is the fuel by which we live. It provides all of the essential nutrients we need to survive. It is, however, becoming more and more of a challenge to feel confident about the food sources we are offered these days. Many of the commercial sources are depleted of their once abundant nutrients or have had those nutrients altered genetically. In addition, many are burdened with residual toxins left behind from their growing and processing environments.

Some of these residual toxins may be harmful enough for our bodies to react violently in an effort to expel them before more substantial damage occurs. Any excessive toxin that enters our bodies on food that we eat or in the water that we drink can be considered food poisoning.

Typically, however, the term “food poisoning” is reserved for an infection by bacteria or parasites carried into our stomachs on food or in water. These germs may irritate our stomachs sufficiently to cause nausea and vomiting. If the germ activity continues on down the digestive tract, it may eventually cause diarrhea.

These symptoms will last as long as it takes to relieve the toxic effect. In other words, as long as it takes to expel the bacteria or parasite. If the cause of excessive vomiting or diarrhea is determined to be one of these toxic germs, it is wise to allow the body the opportunity to expel it rather than have those germs end up deep in our bodies to reek more havoc.

During the process of expelling germs many useful nutrients are also taken out. If excessive electrolytes (minerals) are taken out of our systems, we can develop tingling in our hands and feet or even severe muscle cramping. To prevent this, it is a good idea to replenish as many electrolytes as possible in the form of broths or mineral water or specialty drinks. If the infection persists, it may be necessary to eradicate these misplaced germs with antibiotics.

Sometimes a flu can be misunderstood to be food poisoning and visa versa. Flus are most often viral in nature. Viruses will not be expelled by vomiting or with diarrhea. Therefore, in the case of flus, it is acceptable to make an effort to stop those processes.

Another unfortunate condition that might trigger vomiting is motion sickness. This has nothing to do with germs (bacterial or viral). It is brought on by disorientation. Imagine a poor soul with the flu on a rocky boat who just ate contaminated food! All three conditions converging on one sad and confusing experience.

The number one prevention of food poisoning is thorough food cleansing. It is often best to wash foods with water AND soap. A little scrubbing wouldn’t hurt either. Sometimes peeling off the outer layer is a wise thought.

The number two prevention is selection of safe foods. This offers a good case for selecting “Organic,” though this by itself will not ensure that the food is germ free. Germs like real food as much as humans do. That is why real, organic oils will go rancid (infected with bacteria) like most foods, whereas the normal “off-the-shelf” oils can last forever without a concern that living organisms (germs) will find any nutritive value in their consumption.

The number three preventive measure against food poisoning is to stay healthy overall. A healthy person will have good stomach acid that might be enough to kill off the few bacteria that find their way in. Also, a healthy person may have been exposed to enough small doses of bacteria to have sufficient antibodies to fight off an infection.

Bottom line – one day of vomiting after getting food poisoning is acceptable. Two days and it’s time to intervene.

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