According to media report, the number of people in Singapore struck by mass food poisoning or gastroenteritis symptoms from July 2018 to July 2019 were at least 1,000. Unfortunately, one led to death. Most these food borne illnesses reported during this period are catered food related.
Common symptoms of food poisoning include one or more of the followings: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, abdominal pain or cramps, and fever.
Signs and symptoms of food poisoning may begin within hours after eating the contaminated food, days or even weeks later. Illness caused by food poisoning could last from a few hours to several days.
Major causes of food poisoning are pathogenic bacteria like Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, Listeria, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter, Clostridium difficile. Viruses like norovirus, rotavirus, and parasites can also cause food poisoning, though the prevalence is not as rampant as bacterial contamination.
Upon detecting symptom of food poisoning, it is important to take quick action before symptom worsens. Taking probiotics or postbiotics supplement is probably the fastest measure one can do to tackle food borne illness.
Probiotics are defined by World Health Organization (WHO) as living microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefits upon the host.
The human gastrointestinal tract is a complex and dynamic ecosystem referred to as the gut microbiota. It contains in average 100 trillion of symbiotic microorganisms, and features over 5,000 bacterial species.1
The relationship between the gut microbiota and human health is becoming increasingly recognised. It is now well-established that a healthy gut flora plays pivotal roles in maintaining in human health such as immune system maturation, metabolism of glucose, lipids, and bile acids, defence against pathogens, increase nutrient uptake, and activating immune system.2
In most cases, probiotics or beneficial bacteria, mainly strains of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium species, come from the gut microbiota of healthy humans, plants and dairy products.
Probiotics have demonstrated beneficial effects in treating variety of gastrointestinal diseases such as acute infectious diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, constipation, functional gastrointestinal disorder, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), necrotizing enterocolitis, ulcerative colitis.3
In recent years, heat-killed probiotics and their secondary metabolites produced during fermentation otherwise known as postbiotics, have gained more popularity. Oral administration of heat-killed probiotics or postbiotics have been rendered highly effective to protect against infection, inhibit growth and reduce inflammation caused by pathogenic bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Helicobacter pylori.4
One of the main advantages of postbiotics over probiotics, is such that the former is suitable for consumption by immune-compromised individuals, while the latter is not. Postbiotics are travel friendly too, as they require no refrigeration.
The key in dealing with food poisoning incident is speed of action.
- Probiotics and postbiotics
Probiotics and postbiotics have been proven to effectively stop pathogens in their tracts. It is always handy to store some at home and office. Not all probiotic and postbiotic supplements are created equal. The best probiotics might not necessary mean the highest Colony Forming Unit (CFU) count, for instance. Do check product review, and recommendation in choosing the fast acting probiotic and postbiotic supplements.
- Stay hydrated
In case of diarrhea, it is important to stay hydrated and replace lost fluids. Drink plenty of liquids, broth, and electrolytes. Energy drinks are excellent and convenient options for hydration and to replenish lost minerals. If vomiting is an issue, try sipping small amounts of clear liquids. Avoid dehydration.
- Soft diet
Start with soft diet, in small amounts. Nonfatty foods such as toast, rice, and crackers are good alternatives. Eat when you feel ready.
- Do not consume these food or beverages
Stay away from food or beverages like coffee, dairy, spicy food, oily food, and alcohol, that may aggravate the symptoms.
Get plenty of rest
- Consult physician
Most people are able to recover from food poisoning cases, but such episodes are more dangerous in these group of individuals: babies, children, immunocompromised or weak immune system, pregnant women, elderly. It is best to consult physician and get quick remedy.
- Aline Corado Gomes, Allain Amador Bueno, Rávila Graziany Machado de Souza and João Felipe Mota: Gut microbiota, probiotics and diabetes. Gomes et al. Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:60.
- Annalisa Noce, Giulia Marrone, Francesca Di Daniele, Eleonora Ottaviani,Georgia Wilson Jones, Roberta Bernini, Annalisa Romani and Valentina Rovella: Impact of Gut Microbiota Composition on Onset and Progression of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases. Nutrients 2019, 11, 1073.
- Thad Wilkins, Jacqueline Sequoia: Probiotics for Gastrointestinal Conditions: A Summary of the Evidence. Am. Fam. Physician 2017, 96, 170–178.
- Núria Piqué , Mercedes Berlanga and David Miñana-Galbis: Health Benefits of Heat-Killed (Tyndallized) Probiotics: An Overview. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 2534.