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Upset Stomach: Worried About What To Eat And What To Avoid? 12 Best Foods To Eat When Suffering From Stomach Problems

When suffering from stomach issues, there are some foods that one cannot tolerate and some which are better tolerable and also help in preventing dehydration. Dealing with an upset stomach depends on what is causing it, if infection is the cause or the stomach issue has developed as some side effect or whatever the cause is, there are various foods which help in settling and soothing an upset stomach and helps in making it feel better. In this article, we will talk about the 12 best foods to consume when suffering from an upset stomach and to make it better.  

Some of the best foods for an upset stomach are:

CHAMOMILE Helps in Soothing Intestinal Discomfort and Relieving Vomiting

Chamomile is an herbal plant and is a popular and traditional remedy for treating stomach upset. Dried chamomile can be brewed into a tea or it can be taken orally as a supplement. Chamomile has been used for ages as a natural remedy for treating different kinds of intestinal troubles, such as indigestion, gas, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting (1). However, there are only few studies which show its effectiveness for relieving digestive problems. Another review done shows that chamomile can have anti-diarrheal effect and can help in decreasing the digestive tract spasms (2).

Chamomile is also often used as herbal supplement for alleviating gas, indigestion, diarrhea, bloating and for colic in babies (3).

GINGER Is Great For Alleviating Nausea and Vomiting

Ginger is an edible root having a yellow flesh and is actually quite a common and popular remedy for treating nausea and vomiting (4).

Ginger for upset stomach can be consumed raw, steeped in hot water, cooked or can be taken in supplement form. This natural remedy is also commonly used for treating morning sickness during pregnancy.

A review from 2020 research showed that ginger is beneficial in reducing vomiting and nausea associated with both chemotherapy and pregnancy (5).

Ginger is also commonly used as a natural remedy for vertigo and motion sickness where it helps in decreasing the intensity of nausea symptoms and helps in healing faster; however, more research is required (6).

Ginger is usually safe to consume as a natural remedy; however, some can experience side effects especially if it is taken more 4 g in a day and these consist of: stomach pain, heartburn and diarrhea (7).

Relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms with PEPPERMINT

Irritable bowel syndrome leads to stomach upset. This is a chronic gut disorder characterized by bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea and constipation. It can be difficult to manage this condition and there are studies that show the benefits of peppermint in alleviating uncomfortable symptoms of stomach upset.

Daily intake of peppermint oil capsules, a minimum of two weeks can substantially decrease gas, stomach pain and diarrhea in adults suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (8).

According to experts, the peppermint oil acts by relaxing the digestive tract muscles and also reducing the intensity of intestinal spasms, which are responsible for causing diarrhea and pain (9).

With all this research, still more studies are needed to understand and determine if the peppermint tea or peppermint leaf has the same beneficial effects.

Peppermint is mostly safe; however, it can cause some side effects, such as nausea, heartburn, dry mouth and abdominal pain (10).

FLAXSEED Helps in Reducing Stomach Pain and Constipation

Also known as linseed, flaxseed is a small, fibrous seed which is helpful in regulating the bowel movements along with relieving abdominal pain and constipation. Chronic constipation is defined has having lesser than three bowel movements in a week and it can be accompanied by abdominal discomfort and pain (11).

Flaxseed, whether in the form of flaxseed oil or as ground flaxseed meal, is beneficial in treating the symptoms of constipation (12, 13).

A study from 2018 showed that adults suffering from constipation and who took 10 g of flaxseed twice a day for three months showed improvement in the stool consistency and the symptoms of constipation (14).

LICORICE Helps In Relieving Indigestion and Can Be Beneficial In Preventing Stomach Ulcers

Licorice is another popular remedy for treating indigestion and to also prevent stomach ulcers. Since olden days, people consumed licorice root whole. However, in today’s times it is available in a supplement form known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). However, glycyrrhizin is no longer present in DGL. Glycyrrhizin is a naturally occurring chemical present in licorice which if taken in large quantities can lead to hypertension, fluid imbalances and reduced levels of potassium (15).

Test-tube studies and animal studies have shown that DGL helps in soothing the pain and discomfort of the stomach by reducing the inflammation in the lining of the stomach and also by increasing production of mucus, which helps in protecting the tissues from the harsh stomach acid (15).

DGL supplements are also beneficial in alleviating stomach pain and indigestion caused by stomach ulcers which is caused by overgrowth H. pylori. Studies suggest that DGL supplements can help in eliminating the H. pylori overgrowth along with decreasing the symptoms and encouraging the healing of stomach ulcers (16). 

GREEN BANANAS for Relieving Diarrhea

A stomach upset caused from food poisoning or infection is commonly accompanied with diarrhea. There have been several studies, which show that consumption of cooked, green bananas by children suffering from diarrhea helps is reducing the severity, amount and duration of the diarrhea episodes (17).

The beneficial anti-diarrheal effects of green bananas are due to a special form of fiber present in them, which is known as resistant starch. This resistant starch cannot be digested by humans, so it passes through the digestive tract to the colon, and after reaching there, the gut bacteria start to ferment the starch leading to production of short-chain fatty acids, which encourages the bowels to increase water absorption and thus firming up the stools (18).

There are more studies needed to see if the green bananas have similar anti-diarrheal effects in adults.

PAPAYA is Beneficial for Digestion and Helpful in Ulcers and Parasites

Papaya is an orange-fleshed, tasty sweet tropical fruit, which is used as a natural remedy for indigestion. Papaya contains a powerful enzyme, papain, which helps in breaking down the proteins present in the food thus making it easier to digest and absorb (19).

There are some people who do not produce sufficient natural enzymes to completely digest their food. So, taking additional enzymes, like papain can help in alleviating the symptoms of indigestion (20).

Not much research is there regarding the benefits of papain; however, one older study showed that regularly consuming papaya concentrate led to decreased bloating and constipation in adults (21).

Papaya is also traditionally used in some West African countries as a remedy for treating stomach ulcers. There are few animal studies that support this claim; however, more human studies are needed regarding this (22, 23).

Prevent Dysbiosis and Diarrhea with PECTIN SUPPLEMENTS

Diarrhea caused by food-borne illness or a stomach bug can benefit from pectin supplements for better recovery. Pectin is a form of plant fiber found in large amounts in citrus fruits and apples. It can also be present in foods or in a supplement form. Pectin cannot be digested by humans, so it remains in the intestinal tract where it effectively firms the stools and thus helps in preventing diarrhea (24).

A single study done in people suffering from IBS with diarrhea showed that pectin acts as a prebiotic and encourages the growth of good bacteria within the digestive tract (25).

In some cases, imbalance of bacteria in their intestines can cause symptoms, such as bloating, gas or abdominal pain.

This commonly occurs after gut infections; during bouts of high stress or after taking antibiotics (26, 27).

Pectin supplements can help in rebalancing the gut and alleviating these symptoms by reducing the growth of harmful bacteria and increasing the growth of good bacteria (28).

Pectin supplements do seem to be effective at reducing diarrhea and encouraging a healthy balance of gut bacteria; however it is not clear if the natural foods rich in pectin would have the same kind of effect. 

Consume LOW-FODMAP FOODS to Reduce Gas, Bloating and Diarrhea

FODMAPs are carbohydrates which are Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols and some people have difficulty in digesting them. FODMAPs that are not digested enter the colon and get fermented by the gut bacteria resulting in excessive bloating and gas. They also draw water that can lead to diarrhea (29).

A review of 10 randomized controlled studies showed that people with IBS and who consumed low-FODMAP diets found relief in these symptoms in about 50 to 80% of participants (30).

BLAND CARBOHYDRATES Are More Tolerable and Digestible

Bland carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, rice, toast and crackers can be beneficial when suffering from upset stomach, as they are easier to digest and not throw up when having stomach issues (31). Taking bland carbohydrates when feeling sick is recommended, as they are more tolerable; however, as soon as one starts to feel better, it is important to start including other kinds of foods too, as consuming a restrictive diet for long period of time deprives the body of essential minerals and vitamins (32).

PROBIOTIC-RICH FOODS are Beneficial in Regulating Bowel Movements

Dysbiosis can cause an upset stomach in some cases, where there is imbalance in the number or the type of bacteria present in the gut. Consuming foods rich in probiotics, which is the good bacteria, is beneficial for the gut and helps in correcting this imbalance along with relieving the symptoms of bloating, gas or irregular bowel movements (33). Some of the foods rich in probiotics and are beneficial for gut health are: (33)

Buttermilk is beneficial in relieving the antibiotic-related diarrhea and can also help in alleviating constipation.

Yogurt: There are many studies that have shown that consumption of yogurt that has active, live bacterial cultures helps in relieving diarrhea as well as constipation.

Kefir: Daily drinking 500 ml of kefir for one month can be beneficial in people suffering from chronic constipation and they will have more regular bowel movements.

Other probiotics rich foods are: natto, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha and kimchi; however, more research is needed to assess their effect on gut health (33).

Prevent Dehydration by Drinking Clear Liquids with Electrolytes

Dehydration can easily occur if the upset stomach is accompanied with vomiting or diarrhea. Diarrhea and vomiting causes loss of minerals and electrolytes from the body and these are vital to maintain the fluid balance in the body and to maintain the proper function of the nervous system. Mild dehydration and electrolyte loss can be easily treated by drinking lots of clear liquids and consuming foods, which are naturally rich in electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium.

Other than plain water, one can consume coconut water, fruit juice, broths, sports drinks and saltine crackers to restore the loss of fluid and regulate the electrolyte imbalance that occurs with mild dehydration (34).

If there is severe dehydration, then intravenous fluids may be needed (35).

What NOT TO EAT When Having Upset Stomach

When suffering from an upset stomach, there are certain foods that are an absolute NO-NO as they are difficult to digest and can worsen the condition. These foods and drinks which should not be consumed when suffering from stomach problems are (31): spicy foods, fried foods, nuts and seeds, acidic fruits, including citrus fruits, whole-fat dairy products; non-lean meat, whole grains, caffeine, alcohol and high fiber vegetables.


There are many foods and herbs found in our kitchen, which serve as natural remedies to relieve an upset stomach. Spices and herbs, such as peppermint, ginger and licorice contain natural soothing properties for stomach, whereas fruits like green bananas and papaya are beneficial for better digestion. Avoiding high-FODMAP foods is beneficial in reducing bloating, gas and diarrhea; whereas, probiotic foods like kefir and yogurt are beneficial in regulating bowel movements.

When an upset stomach is also accompanied with diarrhea or vomiting, then it is important to hydrate and replenish the lost electrolytes. Bland carbohydrates are easier on the digestive system when suffering from stomach issues and they are also easier to keep down.

Everyone commonly experiences stomach problems from time to time; and the natural and helpful remedies in the form of foods and herbs are great to help and support the recovery process from stomach problems.


  1. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/chamomile
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9822300/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9350493/
  4. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ginger
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7019938/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7378854/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK565886/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6337770/
  9. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/peppermint-oil/
  10. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/peppermint-oil
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513291/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9914786/
  13. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/flaxseed-and-flaxseed-oil
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5944250/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7348626/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8703329/
  17. https://academic.oup.com/tropej/article/69/1/fmad005/7000349
  18. https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/endocrinology/articles/10.3389/fendo.2020.00025/full
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8066973/
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537005/
  21. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23524622/
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6682863/
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8066973/
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9455162/
  25. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25809332/
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7213601
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8954387/
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25809332
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7600506/
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28592442
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538142/#
  32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071223/
  33. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Probiotics-Consumer/
  34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27068718
  35. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555956/

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 7, 2024

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