GI Virus? What to eat now?

IMG_1196I’ve been fortunate enough to be  in my daughter’s school a lot lately teaching nutrition.  Our lessons have focused on healthy eating, know your food groups, fluid consumption, sugar, eating local and how to try new foods (just to name a few topics).  While I’ve been at her school, I’ve noticed lots of kids are going home with a stomach bug.  I hate stomach bugs (both as a mom and as patient)!!

The GI virus or “throw-up virus” as my daughter calls it can be a real pain to deal with.  Caregivers and parents always ask me lots of questions about keeping hydrated and what liquids and foods to try after the vomiting has stopped.  Here are some helpful tips:

1.  Once the vomiting has stopped, try sucking on ice chips (if over 2-3 yrs old).

2.  Then if tolerated, try 1 teaspoon of a clear liquid (water, apple juice, tea (cold or warm), lemonade, ginger ale, seltzer water or sports drink) every 10 minutes.  (Yep, you read right, every 10 minutes!!).

3.  If tolerated, increase to 1 Tablespoon every 20 minutes.  Keep doubling the amount every hour. (If you are experiencing diarrhea, you may want to try a beverage with some electrolytes added).

4.  Once you’ve been throw-up free for 8 hours, try adding some solid food in small amounts.  I’d recommend foods low in fat and low in insoluble fiber.  Eliminating spicy foods is also a good idea.  Some of the best foods are dry crackers, pretzels, rice, baked potato, dry toast, chicken broth, baked chicken, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, frozen pops (juice type, not the kinds with lots of fruit).

5.  Continue alternating with liquids and solids until you are feeling better.



Edible Ammunition: Defend Your Digestive Health with Prebiotics and Probiotics

I hope this blog post finds each of you staying healthy and avoiding the GI bug that is running wild through the nursing homes here in North Carolina.  Grandma C  had it for 2 days (ugh!) and it was awful!  Like any Registered Dietitian, I’m already thinking about how she can restore her  good gut flora/bacteria from the nasty stomach-bug.

I asked Katrina Levine (MPH/RD Student) to remind us  how prebiotics and probiotics can help us maintain a healthy GI tract.


Ugh…there goes that gurgling, bloating, gas, and uncomfortable pressure again…

If you’ve caught yourself thinking this recently, you are not alone.

Fortunately, there is something YOU can do to improve your digestive system and avoid all those awful symptoms – eat foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics!

What are prebiotics and probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria that can be added to food products to help our digestive system run smoothly, promoting health and preventing disease.

Now, hold on a second! Live bacteria??  Don’t worry, these bacteria are not the kind that cause illness – they are the “good” kind that are naturally found in our intestines.  Our bodies need certain types of bacteria to help us digest our food.  Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are some of the most common strains, and these are the types you want to look for on food labels.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are like food for those bacteria.  Prebiotics are undigested carbohydrates that are broken down by probiotic bacteria, where they help the bacteria to grow.  Prebiotics can act like fiber in our guts, but ultimately they just serve to help probiotic bacteria do their jobs.

Benefits of prebiotics and probiotics:

  • Help prevent malabsoption that can lead to nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition
  • Decrease constipation and diarrhea, especially antibiotic-related diarrhea
  • Alleviate lactose intolerance
  • Reduce symptoms of chronic diseases causing gastrointestinal stress, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Help with the absorption of calcium and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Increase immune system activity

If you’re experiencing any of the problems listed above, then adding pre- and probitotics to your diet may make eating more enjoyable.  However, talk to your doctor or dietitian first before you make any major changes to your diet.

Where to look for pre- and probiotics:

  • Fruits and vegetables— Jerusalem artichokes, onions, chicory, and banana are natural sources of prebiotics
  • Whole grains—also natural sources of prebiotics
  • Fermented dairy (yogurt, milk-based drinks)– look for “live active cultures” and the types of bacteria listed in these probiotic foods
  • Supplements—may contain either pre- or probiotics or both, but  check to make sure the types of bacteria listed are proven to have probiotic benefits


Hamilton-Miller JM. 2004. Probiotics and prebiotics in the elderly. Postgrad Med J. 80:447-451.

Zeratsky, K. 2011. Are probiotics and prebiotics important for health: is it important to include probiotics and prebiotics in a healthy diet? Mayo Clinic. Available from: