Preventing the Stomach Flu Naturally…
This is the thought that is consuming me right now. I will do anything to avoid getting it.
Give me a respiratory virus over the stomach flu any day.
I hate to puke. Yes. I said Hate…I know. I always tell my kids not to use that word. Normally, I think it is such an ugly word (oh, I hate the word ugly too, by the way…).
Except, of course, when it comes to vomiting. I really do hate it. And really, it is ugly, coincidentally.
When I hear or see someone throw up around me, I start to get heart-palpitations and anxiety. And when I have to throw up myself? Oye.
So…needless to say, over the years of having two school-aged children who get exposed to their fair share of stomach bugs, I have spent lots of hours researching and obsessing (and yes, I literally have obsessed about this) over how to prevent it from taking down our home.
On the news the other night, the headline that popped up was the dreaded one that puts me into a full-blown state of anxiety:
Health Advisors Warn of a New-Strain of Norovirus Outbreak.
“Operation Vomit-Phobe” has officially gone in to full effect in my house now. Because here’s the thing: if my kids come down with it, I will literally spend the next week sleepless, fearing that every twinge, stomach gurgle, or gas pain is leading to my own slippery slope into vomit-ville.
After spending years studying and learning about out how the stomach virus actually works in our bodies, and collecting a variety of natural home-remedy ideas for prevention, I thought I would share a few of the most successful tips that many people (myself included) SWEAR will work to either prevent, or at least lessen the severity of, that dreaded Stomach Virus.
So here you go…
6 Ways to try and Prevent the Stomach Flu Naturally…
OR… at least lessen the severity of it if you DO get hit with it!
1. Sip that Apple-Cider Vinegar (with the “Mother”) in a little bit of apple juice on a regular basis. This actually helps to keep your stomach and intestines in a much more alkaline state (contrary to what you may think, I know. But trust me on this, friends). The intestinal virus does NOT like an alkaline environment. It thrives in an acid state.
When you get a stomach virus, it actually isn’t in your stomach, it’s all in your large and small intestines. The effects of what it’s doing to those makes you sick to your stomach (changing the acidity in your stomach). Keeping the pH of the intestines slightly more alkaline is supposed to stop the virus from taking hold. Apple Cider Vinegar works by changing the pH in your intestinal tract to one that doesn’t let the virus multiply. Plus it also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties so it can assist in killing off the bug if you are exposed.
And, if you have been following me for a while, you KNOW how much I love the Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. Plus, many people, including myself, say Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar can help alleviate nausea if you do end up sick.
We all sip a version of this Apple Cider Vinegar Concoction in my house when we are trying to prevent the flu.
2. Maximize your intake of probiotics – whether through quality supplements or through natural food sources such as homemade fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented veggies, etc. A build-up of the good bacteria in your intestines will help keep your immune system stronger to try and ward off the virus if you do get exposed.
They are currently doing many studies on probiotics that are showing great promise in their treatment AND prevention of bacterial AND viral gastroenteritis (aka the Stomach Bug).
The right balance of healthy bacteria in the intestines can help to overpower invading bugs that might have the potential to make you very sick.
3. Drink tons of Bone Broth. Seriously. Throw it in a mug and chug away. The minerals and health benefits of true bone broth will also keep your immune system strong and help your body fight off any exposure. The broth acts as a fuel to help strengthen the intestinal walls and will help repair the disruptions that may be caused if you do come down with gastroenteritis. The minerals in broth are easily absorbed by the body. It supplies the amino acids that help the body detoxify. The gelatin in it helps to coat the digestive tract.
Although, here is a word to the wise. Stock up on it now. Because if the stomach bug IS traveling through your house, you will not, I repeat, will not want to be dealing with the bones and the smells that come from whipping up a fresh batch while you are in the throes of nausea. I learned this the hard way long ago.
4. Enhance the mucosal lining of the intestinal walls. Supplements such as: betain and pepsin, glutamic acid, stomach bitters, apple cider vinegar, Slippery Elm, Marshmallow Root, and amino acids – L-glutamine, and N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG) are all very helpful in creating a healthy environment that would be inhospitable to welcoming forms of gastroenteritis.
5. Support that immune system. Focus on natural sources and whole-food supplements that are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium, and B-Vitamins. All of these will increase your chances of your body fighting off the invading bugs if you do get exposed.
6. This one is not brain science, but perhaps the most important of all…WASH. YOUR. HANDS. And often. And abstain from rubbing your eyes, touching your mouth, or picking your nose. Those are all the lovely ways those nasty germs can enter your beautiful body.
But, if after all of this you do happen to come down with it, hopefully it will be a much milder case for you.
If you get it, at first do not do too much other than take small sips of water. It is good to let your digestive system rest while it is trying to fight off the bug. But, once you are not heaving into your garbage can or toilet any longer, you can try and still do the above to lessen symptoms and help your recovery.
Other things to try if you do get it:
1. Take activated charcoal pills to help stop vomiting and nausea.
2. Make some fresh peppermint tea or ginger tea to help calm the nausea. Peppermint is very easy to grow in the garden and keep on hand. Just lightly simmer some fresh peppermint leaves in water, strain, then sip slowly. This can help settle the queasiness. Or you can do the same process with some slices of fresh ginger.
3. Take a sniff of an alcohol swab. I know it sounds weird, but people swear on this one, this way to Sunday. Please Note: I do not endorse this for children. I do not encourage teaching children any forms of early sniffing habits.
But, apparently smelling alcohol has truly been proven to have an anti-emetic effect. In fact, this method has actually been practiced in hospitals to prevent post-operative vomiting.
4. After a bout of the stomach bug, once you are feeling better, you should also take massive amounts of probiotics. This will help to restore balance to your depleted intestinal tract.
Sadly…so sadly…I have passed on my emetophobic tendencies to my eight-year-old. If he hears or sees someone throw up, it literally puts him into a tailspin of anxiety. My totally relaxed-anxiety-free kid-when-it comes-to-any-other-issue-in-his-life, goes into a heart-palpitation induced sweat when faced with vomit.
Can you see now why we go through every length to avoid it in our house? 😉
Kim Maes, CNC, AADP, known as the Allergy Free Food Coach, is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant and Certified in the Practical Application of Food Allergy Guidelines.. She is also the creator of the Cook It Allergy Free iPhone and iPad Apps and the Cook It Allergy Free website, where she shares her passion for teaching others how easy and delicious it can be to eat whole, pure allergy-friendly meals that the entire family will enjoy.