Probiotics & Gastroenteritis

strawberry dessert with some fresh yogurt
Yogurt naturally contains probiotics. (Image: Szakaly/iStock/Getty Images)

Gastroenteritis is an infection of the intestines that is commonly referred to as the stomach flu. There is no cure for the stomach flu aside from modifying your diet and resting. Probiotics are helpful bacteria that live in the colon and are commonly found in yogurt. Using them during a bout of gastroenteritis can help shorten the duration of your digestive symptoms, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis can occur after drinking contaminated water or coming in direct contact with someone who is infected with a virus affecting the digestive tract. Gastroenteritis symptoms typically appear quickly with bouts of diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. You may also experience bloating, gas, stomach pain and cramping. Some people develop a low-grade fever with gastroenteritis. If you vomit or notice blood in your stool, you need to see your doctor right away. Gastroenteritis symptoms last for one to 10 days, depending on how long it takes for your body to kill the infection.

Probiotics

Probiotics are sold in supplement form or can be acquired from eating yogurt. Probiotics help regulate and maintain healthy digestion. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking between 5 and 10 billion colony forming unites a day while you have gastroenteritis. Probiotics can help suppress the harmful bacteria that have formed from the infection and replenish the colon with helpful bacteria that was lost from excessive diarrhea. Talk with your doctor before using a probiotic supplement to treat any medical condition.

Yogurt

Eat yogurt to obtain naturally occurring live and active cultures. Some yogurts do not contain live and active cultures and should not be consumed if you have gastroenteritis. Look for live and active cultures listed in the ingredients of the yogurt. Also, avoid yogurts that contain sugar or are high in fat. Purchase a low-fat, plain yogurt that doesn’t contain any added sugar. AskDrSears.com states that eating two cups of yogurt daily can help shorten the severity and duration of diarrhea and it can help kill off infections. Eating yogurt helps strengthen the immune system by promoting the formation of white blood cells.

Consideration

If you are allergic to milk, do not eat yogurt. Most probiotic supplements are dairy-free and are considered safe for people with a milk allergy. Soy-based yogurts also contain probiotics that can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk yogurt.

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