Best Foods for an Upset Stomach
An upset stomach is a relatively common ailment that none of us are immune to. While the causes can be manifold, the symptoms are universally familiar and distressing. Every year in the USA alone, more than 100 million ambulatory care visits are due to digestive diseases. In this article, we will be learning more about the causes and symptoms of stomach upset, which foods to eat for stomach upset, and which ones to avoid. So let’s find out more!
What Causes an Upset Stomach?
An upset stomach can be a real pain – quite literally! There are a variety of factors that can contribute to this uncomfortable sensation, including poor dietary choices, food allergies and intolerances, stress, medications, infections, and certain medical conditions.
One of the most common culprits behind stomach upset is a poor diet. Consuming foods that are high in fat, sugar, or spices can irritate the stomach lining and lead to discomfort and distress. Additionally, consuming large quantities of alcohol or caffeine can also wreak havoc on the digestive system.
- Food allergies and intolerances are another potential cause of stomach upset. Some individuals may be sensitive to certain foods or ingredients, leading to digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.
- Stress and anxiety can also have a significant impact on digestive health. When we’re feeling anxious or stressed, our body’s natural “fight or flight” response can trigger digestive symptoms such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea.
- Certain medications can also be a contributing factor in stomach upset. Painkillers, antibiotics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can all irritate the stomach lining, leading to discomfort and digestive upset.
- Infections caused by bacteria or viruses can also cause stomach upset, resulting in symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
Finally, certain medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can cause chronic stomach upset and digestive symptoms.
Best Foods for Soothing an Upset Stomach
When it comes to soothing an upset stomach, what you eat can make a big difference. While it’s best to avoid rich, fatty, or spicy foods that can further irritate the stomach, there are certain foods that are known for their soothing and healing properties.
Here are some of the best foods to eat when you’re experiencing an upset stomach:
- Bananas: Bananas are easy to digest and rich in potassium, which can help regulate digestion and reduce stomach inflammation.
- Ginger: Ginger has been used for centuries to calm upset stomachs and reduce inflammation. It can be consumed fresh, as a tea, or in supplement form.
- Rice: Plain, white rice is a great source of carbohydrates and can help regulate digestion. It’s also easy on the stomach and can help alleviate symptoms of diarrhea.
- Chicken soup: Chicken soup is a classic remedy for a reason – it’s easy to digest, hydrating, and can help reduce inflammation in the stomach.
- Toast: Plain, dry toast is easy on the stomach and can help absorb excess stomach acid.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is a good source of probiotics, which can help promote healthy gut bacteria and regulate digestion. Be sure to choose a plain, unsweetened variety to avoid added sugars.
- Peppermint: Peppermint tea or peppermint oil can help soothe stomach upset and reduce nausea.
- Chamomile: Chamomile tea or supplements have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stomach upset, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Low FODMAP diet: FODMAP stands for Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Avoiding these has helped relieve stomach upset in IBS patients.
Foods to Avoid with an Upset Stomach
On the other hand, some foods can aggravate the stomach and intestinal lining. So it’s best to avoid them until your stomach has had a chance to heal. Here are some of the top foods to avoid when you’re experiencing stomach upset:
- Fatty foods: Foods that are high in fat, such as fried foods, can be difficult to digest and can worsen stomach upset.
- Spicy foods: Spices can irritate the stomach lining, leading to discomfort and inflammation. Avoid foods that are heavily spiced or contain hot peppers.
- Dairy products: Dairy products can be difficult to digest for some people, particularly those who are lactose intolerant. Avoid milk, cheese, and other dairy products until your stomach has had a chance to heal.
- Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, can be acidic and may worsen stomach upset. Stick to mild fruits such as bananas, melons, and berries.
- Caffeine and alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can irritate the stomach lining and worsen digestive symptoms. Avoid coffee, tea(apart from mild herbal ones such as ginger and chamomile), and alcoholic beverages until your stomach has had a chance to heal.
- Carbonated beverages: Carbonated beverages, such as soda, can cause gas and bloating, exacerbating stomach upset.
- Processed foods: Processed foods can be high in sugar and preservatives, which can worsen digestive symptoms. Stick to whole, unprocessed foods until your stomach has had a chance to heal.
Eating Strategies for Dealing with an Upset Stomach
An upset stomach can be quite distressing. Especially for those foodies among us who live to eat rather than eat to live. Staying away from delicious and rich foods may seem like a punishment but it is important to take things slow and continue eating the recommended foods to ensure adequate nutrition and allow the body to recover. Here are some tips for eating on an upset stomach:
- Start with small, frequent meals: Rather than eating large meals, try eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. This can help ease digestion and prevent further stomach upset.
- Chew your food thoroughly: Properly chewing your food can help ease digestion and prevent stomach discomfort. Take your time and chew each bite thoroughly before swallowing. Put away your phone and look at your food instead of a screen. Eat mindfully.
- Stick to bland, easy-to-digest foods: Choose foods that are easy on the stomach, such as plain rice, toast, or cooked vegetables. Avoid foods that are spicy, fried, or high in fat.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Staying hydrated is important when you’re experiencing stomach upset. Sip on water, herbal tea, or clear broths throughout the day to stay hydrated.
- Avoid lying down after eating: To prevent acid reflux and other digestive symptoms, avoid lying down for at least two hours after eating.
- Keep a food diary: If you’re experiencing frequent stomach upset, it can be helpful to keep a food diary to track which foods trigger your symptoms. This can help you identify which foods to avoid in the future.
- Consult with a healthcare professional: If you’re experiencing severe or frequent stomach upset, or if you have any concerns about your digestive health, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional. They can help you identify the underlying cause of your symptoms.
An upset stomach can easily be dealt with if we exercise a little caution. Eating blander and less rich foods while the healing period is in progress and being mindful of our eating habits can help us avoid the ill effects of an upset stomach.
What should I do if my upset stomach lasts for several days?
Can I drink coffee with an upset stomach?
The caffeine in coffee can further exacerbate gastric irritation and its diuretic property can lead to dehydration so it is best avoided during stomach upset.
Is it okay to take antacids for an upset stomach?
Antacids can provide swift relief from the symptoms of an upset stomach. However, you should refrain from taking them for extended periods of time and consult a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist.
Can spicy food cause an upset stomach?
Spices can irritate the stomach lining, leading to discomfort and inflammation. Avoid foods that are heavily spiced or contain hot peppers.
Are there any foods I should avoid after recovering from an upset stomach?
Avoid spicy foods, fatty foods, caffeine, dairy products, citrus fruits, and other foods that can upset the stomach further while recovering from a stomach upset.
Is it okay to exercise with an upset stomach?
While mild exercise may be helpful, strenuous exercise can exacerbate an empty stomach. Listen to your body and give it the rest it requires. Working out when your body is not fully fit can result in injuries and cause you to miss more exercise sessions than you would have otherwise.