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15 Best Foods To Eat When You Have Stomach Flu

Stomach flu, also known as gastroenteritis, is the infection of the stomach and intestines caused by viruses. People often confuse stomach flu with food poisoning. Though the symptoms (diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain) of both the conditions are almost the same, both are different in many aspects.

Stomach flu is caused by viruses like Norovirus while food poisoning is caused by a wide range of bacteria, viruses or other pathogens. The prior takes up to 10 days to subside while the latter clears up within hours or a few days.

During stomach flu, people must keep a check on the foods they eat and the consumption of water should be increased to make up for the lost electrolytes due to diarrhoea and vomiting. Here is a list of foods to eat when you have stomach flu.

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1. Banana

Banana is rich in potassium and vitamin B6and is the best natural remedy for stomach flu. It is easy to digest and provides instant energy. Banana helps replenish the lost mineral content in the body and maintain the electrolytic balance.

What to do: Start with a few slices of banana when you feel nauseated and slowly increase the amount. Have this fruit at least two times a day during the infection.

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2. Ginger

Ginger has both antibacterial and antiviral properties that help reduce irritation of the stomach. It also helps reduce vomiting and diarrhoea episodes by helping the stomach digest food better. [1]

What to do: Add 1 teaspoon of ginger powder to a glass of warm water and consume it till the symptoms of the infection subside.

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3. Rice or rice water

Stomach flu often leaves the body dehydrated. Both rice and rice water contain a lot of nutrients that help rehydrate the body and replenish essential minerals. They also aid the lining of the stomach and help settle vomiting and decrease stool output. [2]

What to do: Eat plain rice or boil some brown rice in water, drain out the liquid and consume. You may add a little amount of salt to taste.

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4. Low-acidic fruits

Fruits are a natural way to fill your body with nutrients. They provide with enough energy to fight off the stomach flu viruses. Eat fruits which are full of water and are less acidic like watermelon, figs, cantaloupes, papaya, peaches, berries and mangoes.

What to do: Have a bowl of fresh low-acidic fruits once or twice a day.

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5. Garlic

Garlic contains a compound called allicin that helps boost the ability of white blood cells to effectively fight off infections. Regular consumption of garlic is known to reduce the symptoms and the severity of the infection. [3]

What to do: Crush 2-3 cloves of garlic and consume with honey daily.

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6. Crackers

Crackers help settle the stomach while replenishing the lost nutrients at the same time. They are non-spicy, low in fibre, simple carbs and low in fat which makes them an effective and gentle food for tummy during the stomach flu. [4]

What to do: Consume them when you are nauseated. You can have them for breakfast or evening snack.

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7. Ice chips

When stomach flu gets too hard to handle, suck on some ice chips as they help provide the body with the water it needs without overloading the stomach with fluids. Ice chips are a great way to start when you have dehydration due to the condition.

What to do: Take a single ice chip and place in the mouth until it melts down fully. Continue the process until you feel better.

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8. Whole-grain toast

Toast is one among a BRAT diet and nutritional food to fill your sick stomach without creating many problems on your digestive system. Consuming whole-grain toast helps settle down the stomach and it's good for health too.

What to do: Eat whole-grain toast at least twice a day in a small amount.

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9. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a good source of pectin which relieves stomach irritation. The acid present in it makes it impossible for the virus to multiply. ACV also helps relieve stomach gas or bloating. [5]

What to do: Mix a tablespoon of ACV in a glass of water and consume it before meals.

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10. Coconut water

Coconut water is an excellent rehydrating solution to treat mild symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting. For early stage of stomach flu, coconut water is beneficial in replenishing the lost water in the body. [6]

What to do: Drink coconut water every morning in an empty stomach.

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11. Lemons

Lemons are known to destroy the stomach flu causing viruses in the body. The antioxidants in the fruit help fight infections. They also help ease nausea.

What to do: Drink fresh lemon juice twice a day to hydrate the body and prevent vomiting.

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12. Cinnamon

Cinnamon helps calm the stomach and provides relief from many gastrointestinal infections. Its antifungal properties help lessen the symptoms of the flu to an extent. Cinnamon stimulates the digestive system and prevents diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. [7]

What to do: Mix half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder with a teaspoon of honey and consume.

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13. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is a probiotic that helps balance the gut microbiota by reducing the bad bacteria and helping the good bacteria to flourish. This improves the digestive system and helps recover faster.

What to do: Make a banana smoothie along with yoghurt and drink for a faster recovery.

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14. Peppermint

Peppermint is an anti-sedative that helps relax the muscles of the stomach and ease stomach gas and bloating. Its antimicrobial properties help kill the disease-causing germs. Regularly consuming mint tea help relieve flu symptoms. [8]

What to do: Boil a handful of mint leaves in water. Strain the liquid and let it cool. Add a teaspoon of honey to taste and consume.

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15. Chamomile Tea

The anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile tea help soothe an upset stomach and kill the pathogens. The mild sedative effect of the tea also helps relax the stomach muscles and calm down the symptoms.

What to do: Consume a cup of chamomile tea at least twice a day.

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Foods To Avoid During Stomach Flu

Several foods can worsen diarrhoea, vomiting and other symptoms of the stomach flu. They include:

  • Coffee
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Sugary beverages like cold drinks
  • Greasy or acidic foods such as french fries or cheese
  • Fried or junk foods such as pizza, burger or chips
  • Milk or milk products
  • Fruit juices
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Common FAQs

1. When can I eat normally after stomach flu?

Stomach flu usually clears up in around 10 days. Therefore, try to eat a bland diet at least for 10 days or until you get well.

2. How long does the stomach flu last?

Stomach flu symptoms appear within 2-3 days while last for around 10 days.

3. How do I get rid of the stomach flu?

To get rid of stomach flu, consume more liquids, take rest, eat a bland diet such as banana, toast or rice and avoid drinking coffee or eating spicy and fried foods.

Story first published: Thursday, September 3, 2020, 16:30 [IST]