Having resurfaced again in 2014 – and in a new form – the Norovirus, which has symptoms including gastrointestinal bloating, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea, has affected people in several states, including Georgia and Metro Atlanta. This article gives an overview of how it is spread, my experience of contracting it, and what I did to get well rapidly.
According to the CDC, the norovirus affects nearly 20 million people a year in the U.S., and the agency adds: “foods that are commonly involved in outbreaks of norovirus illness are leafy greens (such as lettuce), fresh fruits, and shellfish (such as oysters)…any food that is served raw or handled after being cooked can get contaminated.”
One of the ways that the virus is spread is by infected food workers touching food with their bare hands. Fecal contamination of water sources, for example at farms, can also affect vegetables and fruits that are irrigated.
After a person has been infected, the virus can live inside a person’s body for up to two days before symptoms are experienced.Two neighbors and I began to notice symptoms about 40 hours after being exposed to contaminated food on a Sunday afternoon. Here is what happened next:
Day 1 of symptoms: Tuesday at 6.15am I woke up bloated. Six hours later, my energy had tanked, and all I wanted to do was to lie down and rest for the rest of the day. My muscles ached, I lost my appetite, had little energy, and at one point that same afternoon, I nearly brought up whatever food remained in my stomach.
I am an exceptionally healthy, 41-year old male who is trained as a fitness professional, nutritionist, and who has lots of energy every day. Experiencing the debilitating effects of a stomach virus was a reminder of two needs that many of have: to a) constantly take care of the body we have, and b) help our body to heal with natural approaches as often as possible.
Before I share what I did, please note that what you’re about to read is not a replacement for medical advice. If you feel the need to see a doctor, please visit one. Here is what I did to recover quickly:
- No microwave food (triggers immune reaction in the gut, and thus may slow healing process).
- No alcohol (highly-inflammatory for the gut and may make symptoms worse).
- Consume liquids frequently, such as freshly-squeezed juices, or small pieces of cut-up or blended fruits every couple of hours. Plain soups and chicken broth may also be easier to consume. (These give the body energy to heal). I found that I could only take in small amount of food / liquid at a time for the first 24 hours. Avoid liquids that are cold; these stress the stomach and intestinal tract. Room temperature or warm liquids may work best.
- Get to bed and turn the light off by 10.30pm – preferably 10pm. This results in your getting at least 2 of the 3 releases of growth hormone by 2AM, which may help your body to heal faster and to restore your energy levels the next morning.
- Wash your hands before and after preparing food – and after eating if you’ve not used utensils. Keep your hands away from your face.
- Know where your food is coming from. This is a time that your digestive tract needs LOTS of help and support. You can support it by being aware of what you put in your mouth. When stressed, your intestinal tract needs high quality food – fresh fruits, raw or steamed vegetables, and of the highest quality you can get. Organic is best, if you can get it, and afford it.
- Drink room-temperature filtered or bottled water throughout the day.
Supplements That Sped My Recovery
- #1: Take 2, multi-strain probiotic capsules after every meal, and 4 at night before bed. Drink with a little liquid. A brand I use and recommend is named PB8. Take them until all symptoms have disappeared.
These help to repopulate the intestinal tract with beneficial bacteria; levels of these health-supporting may be lower when a harmful virus rapidly replicates itself inside the body.
- #2: If you weigh less than 150Ibs, take 1 digestive enzyme tablet immediately after each meal / juice / soup. If you weight 150Ibs or more, take 2 digestive enzymes after each time you consume food / juice / soup. Brands you can try include: Wholezyme Ultra (sold at WholeFoods) and Udo’s Choice Digestive Enzymes. Take the enzymes until all symptoms have disappeared. If the enzymes increase the incidence of loose stools, cut the amount by half until stools firm up a bit.
Enzymes help to ease tummy discomfort by digesting remaining food, and can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system in the gut, which may speed-up healing.
- #3: Orac Green Superfood by Amazing Grass. Take 1 scoop, twice a day, until all symptoms abate. You can either buy this product in small plastic containers, or in sticks. Use two sticks a day, as described above. Take until all symptoms abate, and if you have some left, enjoy one scoop a day.
This product helps your body to restore some of its supply of anti-oxidant enzymes, which fight the damage that the virus causes to your cells’ DNA. When there is lots of DNA damage, you may experience intense symptoms. This supplement may, therefore reduce the intensity and length of symptoms.
- #4: Take 1-2oz Organic Aloe Vera juice in fruit juice or as it is. Consume in the evening, just before bed. Aloe vera juice soothes intestinal inflammation and helps to reduce bloating.
I recommend the above brands, stores, and web sites simply the products are commonly available, and were effective. There may be other comparable or better products available elsewhere with similar formulations. The above supplements and general recommendations are what worked in unison for me.
In addition, I also took two, 200mg ibuprofen tablets just before bed on the evening the symptoms were first experienced. On day 2, I took one ibuprofen in the morning and one in the evening with liquid (not on an empty stomach).
If you are taking chemotherapy medications, you may wish to show the above list to your oncologist to ask them for their opinion of what they would do for themselves in your situation. Consult with your physician if you are concerned about any possible interactions between supplements and any medications you are taking.
What Were The Results I Experienced?
When you read these results, please consider that I am an exceptionally healthy person, and so please allow your body to heal in whatever time it needs. You may experience slightly different results, especially if you are older or have specific medical conditions.
Day 2: Wednesday at 8am onwards. I felt as 90% back to normal. My attention, concentration, alertness, and energy levels had returned to normal. My abdomen had a slight amount of bloating still, and I had to make significant effort to get 4 small meals down me. For most of the day I stayed at home and relaxed.
Day 3: Thursday at 8am. Today I felt 99% back to normal. There is still a small amount of bloating in my intestinal tract, and my appetite returned to normal.
Day 4: My flat abs return, and I am bloat free! Appetite is normal, as is my energy level. I can tell that my digestion system is digesting food a little slower than usual. I am continuing to take the supplements and I can eat normally.