During an all-too-frequent 3am urine liquidation, a lifestyle outcome of trying to stay hydrated for better health, I noticed a slight sniffle from a semi-clogged sinus and a discomfort in the bowel area. As my stomach churned and gurgled, I wondered how I might have come down with an illness that resembled food poisoning. Urine flowed as my mind skimmed back over my day…back to my last snack…a couple of bananas and an orange…back to buying said bananas…My muscles tensed and the urine stopped as I recalled the fruit vendor chopping up a chicken for another customer before handling and weighing my bananas …CROSS CONTAMINATION!!! Welcome back to China. I imagined that by my 8pm snack that night, the salmonella covered the bananas. The germs clung for dear life to my hands as I peeled the various fruits. They found a temporary home on my orange slices, and then a permanent home in my intestines…until death do us part. The vernacular expletive for “feces” spewed from my mouth as the urine started to stream again.
One cannot eliminate food contamination from one’s life. It seems the human condition requires it. As a matter of fact, the more we over-medicate with antibiotics the more susceptible to super-bacteria we become. (That is a story for another post.) Given the circumstances and direct entrance to my system the salmonella received, I mentally prepared myself for a painful and runny next week or so. Upon returning to my nice warm bed, I placed the hot water bottle on my stomach to sooth the storm within. I force myself to see the silver lining: I could afford a week in bed, and it would be nice being waited on by my Chinese family. Recalling devastation and pain of past episodes of food poisoning, it did not seem like much of a silver lining.
The attack occurred in the middle of a four day eating spree. It would still be two days until I fasted. The hot water bottle warmed my torso, and I thought about the foods that would be best for a bout of food poisoning. My percolating bowels sucked the heat out of the hot water bottle. It hit the mattress when I rolled over to drift off to sleep to the sounds of a boiling, festering, burbling midsection.
The following morning, whilst daylight pried my eyelids open, I felt noticeably uncomfortable but not incapacitated. Compared to what I thought I would experience, food-borne salmonella square dancing in my colon, I felt pretty darn good. How could this be?
Nine months of intermittent fasting (IF) has had a miraculous effect on my body, especially my digestive system, which is one of the main reasons I decided to take on this lifestyle. IF improves digestion in many ways that may help to alleviate the bugs that cause food poisoning. According to Medical Daily, “[Intermittent fasting] can help speed up the metabolism and improve bowel movements by giving your digestive system a rest. Periods without food boost the metabolism to burn through calories more efficiently — in a way reminding the body how healthy digestion is done.” Resting the digestive system and speeding up the metabolism means healthier bowels that fight off infection better.
Intermittent fasting improves conditions such as autoimmune diseases of the intestines, like my ulcerative colitis (it’s not gone but improving slowly); reduces inflammation in the body, which would help the immune system to be freer and better able to identify invading bacteria and viruses; through autophagy cleanses the body of weak, dying, and dead cells so as to improve the functioning of the immune system; bolsters, conditions, and strengthens the white blood cells to better fight invaders. Over nine months of IF has prepared me for this game of chicken.
The moment a germ hits our stomach, we start to fight it. According to LiveStrong, “Stomach acids can inactivate bacteria.” And IF can help in the stomach acid area. “intermittent fasting allows your GI tract to rest and can help balance out stomach acid,” says the Gut Health Project. In other words, IF can raise stomach acid if it is too low and lower stomach acid if it is too high. My more-in-balance stomach acid started killing those little buggers as soon as the orange slices hit my stomach.
We all want perfect gut flora in just the right amounts, right? Well, IF helps in this area, too. “Another phenomenal benefit that occurs [with intermittent fasting] is that you will radically improve the beneficial bacteria in your gut, as occurs with calorie restriction…[a]long with improving your immune system,” claims Dr. Joseph Mercola. The good gut bacteria crowds out and starves the bad bacteria like E. coli and salmonella.
The dangers of food poisoning cannot be discarded. HealthyCanadians warns, “Food poisoning sometimes causes serious complications, including death. This is the case for people who are more at risk for both food poisoning and related health complications, like those with a weakened immune system.” I hypothesize that all 3-meal-a-day eaters have a weakened immune system due to the onslaught of sugar, salt, and oil, bad fats, and processed-low-nutrition foods.
Intermittent fasting improves one’s overall health. No wonder after two days of mild discomfort, my fight with salmonella infused orange slices, from my unwitting meat/fruit vendor, ended with me victorious and as healthy as ever. This anecdotal narrative proves nothing, but I feel like my improved health and healthy lifestyle have benefited me in this particular struggle. By the way, no matter how healthy I become, my wife and I will no longer be patronizing that particular unhygienic vendor.
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