When the little ones in your life complain about tummy trouble, you want to help them feel better fast. To the rescue: natural strategies doctors rely on when their own kids get sick.
1. For Vomiting: Bone Broth
"A lot of pediatricians recommend a BRAT diet — bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast — when kids vomit. But it's low in nutrients, and even lower in proof that it's helpful," asserts father-of-two Jose Colon, MD, a sleep medicine specialist and author of Sometimes I Dream... A Book for Infant Sleep ($4.32, Amazon). "So when my kids have vomited and are feeling yucky, I give them bone broth instead." It's easy to digest, it's hydrating, and it contains protein and glutamine, an amino acid that works to heal the gut. "The kids like the taste, and I like that it's less salty than chicken or beef broth," says Dr. Colon, who serves it up as needed until the kids are feeling better. Since homemade bone broth isn't always in the cards, Dr. Colon recommends buying organic bone broth, like those from Pacific Foods ($10.46, Amazon) or Simply Balanced.
2. For Cramps: Ginger This Way
"When the kids get cramps from a stomach bug, I give them ice-cold ginger water," says mother-of-two Heather Bartos, MD, medical director at Be. Women's Health & Wellness in Cross Roads, Texas. Ginger root contains gingerols and shogaols, compounds that relax the intestinal tract to ease cramping. "The cold temperature also helps decrease the sensation of nausea." She prefers adding 1/2 tsp. of fresh ginger to a glass of water, but 1/4 tsp. of ground ginger will also do the trick. "If there's too much, it's too spicy for kids, so it's a good idea to taste it first," says Dr. Bartos, who notes her kids feel better almost immediately. Bonus: The water staves off the dehydration that often accompanies the stomach flu.
3. For Diarrhea: "Hidden" Probiotics
To put an end to diarrhea, mother-of-three Dahlia Landa, MD, an allergist/immunologist at ENT and Allergy Associates in New York City, reaches for Culturelle probiotic packets ($20.61, Amazon). "Probiotics help recolonize the good bacteria in the intestinal tract, block the entry of 'bad' bacteria and encourage production of beneficial immune regulators," Dr. Landa says. All told, this can reduce the duration of diarrhea by a day, a study in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found. "My kids unknowingly consume the packets in a cup of applesauce once or twice daily." Though the diarrhea completely clears in about four days, Dr. Landa keeps the probiotics going for four to six weeks. "Continuing helps ensure the gut stays healthy."
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.
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