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Food poisoning in summer   

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A FEW days ago, I went to Baguio with a dear friend for a wellness meeting about a possible branching-out of my holistic health center, Orissa Holistic Garden, in the city of pines.

The weather was disappointingly warm when we arrived, not much of a difference in temperature from what we have in Pampanga or Manila. It was lunch time. Tired and famished, we headed straight to one of my favorite places to eat. We chose a spot with a view of some of the splendid mountain ranges of the Cordillera region, populated by monumental pine trees and other equally majestic trees – a truly grand feast for the eye. While admiring the vista, the friendly waiter showed up to take our order. My friend ordered their popular camote bread with herbed cheese and tortang talong, while I requested for a tofu steak and fresh lumpia. We paired our meal with their popular lemongrass tea blended with lime and honey.  After savoring my meal with delight, I noticed my companion hardly touched his talong meal which was his favorite dish from this place. He complained that something is not right about the taste. I took a bite and immediately I felt a sting in my tongue, as if a bug bit it.

On our way to the hotel where we were billeted, an excruciating pain started developing in his stomach, cold sweat and dizziness followed. He was food poisoned.

Travelling with a small bag of natural remedies anywhere I go absolutely helps a lot.  I immediately gave him some probiotics and a cup of chamomile tea to calm his tummy and him. The poor guy stayed in his room for four straight days – the whole time we were there because of the need to be close to the restroom.

Feeling the importance of food poisoning awareness especially with our present weather condition, I interviewed doctor Jocelyn Cordero, an internal medicine specialist, about the subject. She is one of our amazing medical doctor advisers in Orissa and one of my soul sisters.

Dr. Jocelyn Cordero

According to her, during the peak of summer months, the chances of getting food poisoning are higher. The fiery temperature promotes the growth and fast multiplication of harmful organisms, spoils food quicker, escalates the odds of contamination

She said that foods that contain mayonnaise, fried foods, especially noodles like pansit bihon, can get spoiled in a short period of time, even if you refrigerate it. She suggested that if you cook this dish, you must consume it within three hours to avoid complications. Moreover, keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood chilled until you are ready to cook it. She said all food stored in the refrigerator for three days should be thrown away. They will do more harm than good to the body. Also, the impression of reheating food to rid of parasites is untrue, for not all parasites are the same, some cannot be destroyed by heat.

With a very concerned look, she shared the cases of food poisoning of her patients, most of whom unfortunately got from drinking contaminated water from the restaurants. She urges us to be careful when dining out and wary of our drinks. Opting for a bottled water with a known brand is better. Furthermore, for safety purposes, inquire about the source of the ice that will be used in your drink beforehand to make sure it didn’t come from unfiltered water.

She narrated that the treatment for food poisoning depends on the symptoms. For mild cases, the first step is the replacement of lost fluids, electrolytes and minerals, such as sodium, potassium and calcium. Drinks like Pocari Sweat and Gatorade are good options, but for diabetics, opt for Hydrite instead. Second, take probiotics to enhance the good bacteria inside the stomach. If it involves vomiting, you may need hospitalization to receive salts and replenish fluids intravenously to prevent or treat dehydration. Third, do not eat until the stomach settled down, just keep on hydrating. Fourth, do not take medicines like Diatabs or Imodium as they hinder the body’s natural way of ridding itself of the ingested toxins that make you sick. Fifth, rest until everything runs smoothly as before. Lastly, when the tummy starts feeling better, consume only easily digestible food like vegetable broth, plain congee, apple, ripe bananas, plain yogurt, in small proportions.

Most importantly, Doc Joy articulated that antibiotics may only be taken if symptoms are severe. Meaning to say, if you are experiencing persisting diarrhea – for more than three days, extreme high fever, difficulty speaking, blurry vision, weakness, acute dehydration, passing small amount of urine or none at all, blood or mucus presence in the stool. For pregnant women, antibiotics could be used to prevent the effect of the infection to the baby. For best options, consult your health care provider.

Keep your gut healthy and strong. Eat with mindfulness.

Namaste.

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