Stomach flu symptoms often indicate the onset of norovirus, a virus that affects the intestines and generally lasts anywhere between one and three days. While yogurt touts many gut-healthy benefits, you may want to think twice about reaching for a container when recovering from the stomach bug.
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Dairy products such as yogurt are generally not recommended to aid in stomach flu recovery.
Stomach Flu Overview
If you're experiencing intestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting, there's a chance you have what's called norovirus, or acute gastroenteritis. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stomach flu symptoms include:
- Stomach pain
- Body aches
Symptoms usually come about 12 to 48 hours after exposure to norovirus, and recovery generally takes one to three days. If symptoms persist, they can lead to dehydration, which consists of a decrease in urination, dizziness and dry mouth.
Mayo Clinic recommends foods to eat after a stomach bug that include easy-to-digest foods such as toast, crackers, bananas and rice. While you recover, you can also try waiting a few hours to eat solid foods and drinking non-caffeinated liquids (such as sports drinks, clear broths, clear soda and water).
NHS Inform provides a few tips for preventing the spread of gastroenteritis, that include staying away from large groups until symptoms have passed, washing your hands frequently and overall practicing good hygiene.
Yogurt for Stomach Flu
As important as the foods you should have to help you recover from your stomach virus, are the foods you should avoid. Mayo Clinic suggests avoiding caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, fatty or highly seasoned food and dairy. As yogurt is a dairy product, it's generally not recommended for stomach flu recovery.
That said, certain sources such as Better Health Channel, recommend an increase in yogurt "containing live cultures" as a dietary alteration while you recover from acute diarrhea. Though there's some evidence on the benefits of probiotics for the gut, the effectiveness of yogurt in aiding stomach virus recovery is unlikely.
One October 2015 study from Clinical Nutrition, found that the consumption of yogurt had no positive effect on acute gastroenteritis outcomes in hospitalized children, though the study's authors state that "evidence should be viewed with caution."
Another study from November 2018 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that among preschool children with acute gastroenteritis, those who were given Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a strain of bacteria sometimes found in yogurt, did not have better recovery outcomes than those who received the placebo.
Read more: The 6 Best Yogurts and 4 to Avoid
Benefits of Yogurt
All in all, yogurt may not be the best option for recovering from your stomach virus, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have other fantastic health benefits. Harvard School of Public Health explains that yogurt contains a number of important nutrients, such as protein, phosphorus and B vitamins. It also contains calcium and vitamin D, important for building bone strength.
Yogurt has been touted to increase microbiota diversity in the gut, and it has been shown that the lack of certain bacterial strains in the body, may play a role in certain conditions, such as obesity, irritable bowel syndrome and certain types of chronic inflammatory diseases. In fact, according to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, eating yogurt may reduce overall inflammation.
Furthermore, it's been shown that yogurt may protect from weight gain, lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. So, while you may not turn to yogurt for post-stomach-virus recovery, it may be worth noting its healthy long-term effects.
- Mayo Clinic: "Viral Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)"
- The New England Journal of Medicine: "Lactobacillus Rhamnosus Gg Versus Placebo for Acute Gastroenteritis in Children"
- Clinical Nutrition: "Yogurt for Treating Acute Gastroenteritis in Children: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- Better Health Channel: "Diarrhea"
- NHS Inform: "Gastroenteritis"
- Harvard School of Public Health: "Yogurt"
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: "VA Dietician Encourages Eating Yogurt For Its Health Benefits"
- CDC: "The Symptoms of Norovirus"