Many of us would experience an upset stomach at some point in our lives. An upset stomach might have various causes. An acute or short-term upset stomach might be caused because of viral gastroenteritis or food poisoning and vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea could be the symptoms of an acute stomach upset.
However, chronic or long-term stomach upset might be a result of IBD or inflammatory bowel diseases and irritable bowel syndrome. In such cases, the affected person might experience symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or gas.
We must know that these conditions and the symptoms of an upset stomach could be controlled by controlling our diet. Yes, some foods can help in alleviating the symptoms when your stomach is upset. However, it must be made clear that some foods might also worsen an upset stomach and, thus we should avoid them when we have an upset stomach.
Read further to find out what to eat when your stomach is upset and what foods are supposed to be avoided.
What To Eat When Your Stomach Is Upset?
You should eat papaya when your stomach is upset. Papaya is a sweet tropical fruit that can be used as a natural remedy for indigestion. These fruits are effective in reducing bloating and constipation.
A potential enzyme, named, Papain is present in papaya that breaks down proteins present in the food that you eat and thus makes them easier to digest and absorb.(1)
Some of us do not produce the required amount of natural enzymes that help in the proper digestion of food. So, consuming additional enzymes, such as papain, from papaya might help in relieving the symptoms of indigestion and treat an upset stomach.
A study has found that consuming papaya concentrate regularly reduced bloating and constipation in adults.(2) This was all due to the papain enzyme found in the fruit.
Some intestinal parasites can live in our gut and cause symptoms like severe abdominal discomfort, pain, and malnutrition. In such cases, papaya seeds might help in eliminating those intestinal parasites.(3, 4)
Many studies have proved that the antiparasitic properties of papaya seeds can increase the number of parasites passed in children’s stools.(5, 6, 7)
Sometimes you may have an upset stomach because of an infection or food position. When this happens you might experience diarrhea.
To your surprise, many studies have shown that giving cooked, green bananas to children suffering from diarrhea could help in reducing the amount, severity, and also duration of diarrhea episodes.(8, 9)
A study has also found that adding cooked green bananas was four times more effective at treating diarrhea than just a rice-based diet alone.(10)
The potential antidiarrheal effects of green bananas are because of resistant starch, which is a special type of fiber that they contain.
They say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Here, in case your stomach is upset you can get help from apples. These fruits have antioxidants known as Polyphenols in them.
A review in 2015 has shown that polyphenols might help in alleviating inflammations that are linked with Inflammatory bowel disease.(11)
Applesauce or stewed apples are easier to digest than the apple as a whole.
Vegetable Or Bone Broth
Sometimes when you have an upset stomach and are unable to eat or keep food down. However, you might be able to take bone broth or vegetable broth.
Bone broth contains glutamine. A study in 2017 notes that glutamine, an amino acid, plays a major role in maintaining the intestinal barrier or IB.(12) This intestinal barrier aids in protecting the body from toxins and harmful pathogens. This IB also helps us in absorbing water and nutrients from the food that we eat.
It has been found from an older review done in 2009 that intestinal barrier dysfunction or IB dysfunction can lead to various inflammatory diseases like celiac disease, food allergies, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Probiotic-rich foods help in regulating bowel movements and thus help you when you have an upset stomach. Sometimes your stomach might be upset because of an imbalance in the type or number of bacteria found in the gut. This is known as dysbiosis.
It has been shown that eating probiotic-rich foods might help in correcting dysbiosis and reduce symptoms of bloating, gas, or irregular bowel movements.(14)
Some probiotic-rich foods are listed below.
Yogurt: Various studies show that eating yogurt with active and live bacterial cultures can help in treating diarrhea and constipation.(15, 16, 17)
Kefir: If you are experiencing chronic constipation due to an upset stomach, then drinking 500 ml of Kefir daily for a month would be beneficial for you and you would experience more regular bowel movements.
One more food that you should eat when your stomach is upset is the egg. Foods with high-fat sources of protein like red meats, fried foods, or processed foods can result in acid reflux, especially when taken in large amounts at night. However, eggs, being easier to digest can be an easy way to meet the protein requirements of your body. It is good for you to eat eggs when your stomach is upset. But make sure to have a light meal.
Foods that are packed with calcium, potassium, and magnesium can help in reducing belly bloat. Sweet potatoes are one of those foods that contain all these nutrients. You can eat them when your stomach is upset. You can also add avocados, yams, and oranges to help with getting relief from bloating.
Adding whole grains can help in providing you relief from stomach ailments and also prevent any future intestinal problems. Oats are one of those foods you can eat when your stomach is upset. The soluble fiber present in oats draws water into your digestive tract and helps the food move through your body. Try to eat around 25 to 35 grams of oats daily. But keep in mind, not to overeat.
Crackers are easily digestible and also help in absorbing stomach acid. This is the reason why these can also be added to the list of the best foods to eat when your stomach is upset. Crackers are often recommended for women suffering from morning sickness.
Are you suffering from nausea and vomiting with an upset stomach? If yes, ginger can do wonders for you. When you have an upset stomach, the most common symptoms are nausea and vomiting.
Ginger is an effective and common natural remedy for these symptoms of an upset stomach.(18)
You can enjoy ginger raw, cooked, or as a supplement. It would be effective in all forms. (19)
In general, ginger is commonly used as a natural remedy for morning sickness in pregnant women, which occurs during their pregnancy and when they have nausea and vomiting.
A review of 6 studies, including more than 500 pregnant women has found that taking one gram of ginger regularly was linked with five times less vomiting and nausea during their pregnancy.(2)
Ginger is also used as a natural remedy to treat motion sickness and symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach. This can help in a faster recovery from these symptoms (21)
Usually, ginger is safe. However, if you take more than 5 grams per day, then it can cause symptoms of stomach pain, heartburn, and diarrhea.(22)
Sometimes people with irritable bowel syndrome can cause an upset stomach. Symptoms like bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation are common in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Studies show that peppermint might help in reducing the uncomfortable symptoms of IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms of gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea in adults with IBS can be improved by taking peppermint oil capsules regularly for two weeks.
Though research on this positive effect of peppermint oil is promising, additional studies must be required to determine if peppermint leaf and peppermint tea also have the same therapeutic effects to treat symptoms of an upset stomach or Irritable bowel syndrome.(23)
When your stomach is upset, you can take chamomile which would help you soothe intestinal discomfort and reduce vomiting and nausea. You can either take it as a supplement or can brew dried chamomile into tea.
In ancient times, people used chamomile to treat several intestinal troubles like indigestion, gas, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.(25)
Although chamomile has gut-soothing effects, research has not yet shown how exactly it aids in relieving an upset stomach.
Licorice is a well-known remedy for indigestion and can also help in preventing stomach ulcers. In earlier times, people used to eat whole licorice root. However, today it is available as a supplement known as Deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL.
DGL is mostly preferred over licorice root because it does not contain glycyrrhizin (a chemical naturally occurring in licorice that can result in fluid imbalances, low potassium levels, and high blood pressure).(26,27)
Animal and test-tube studies show that you can get relief from stomach pain and discomfort by taking DGL. This might be particularly beneficial for those who experience stomach upset caused by acid reflux.
Stomach pain and indigestion issues caused due to stomach ulcers( occurring due to an overgrowth of H.pylori bacteria) can also be cured with DGL supplements.
Many studies have shown that the overgrowth of H.pylori can be eliminated by DGL supplements, thus the symptoms caused by stomach ulcers can be reduced too.(28,29)
It can be said that licorice is a soothing and relaxing herb that works great for the intestinal tract and can help in treating infections and inflammation that might contribute lead to an upset stomach.
One more thing that you should eat when your stomach is upset is flaxseed. Flaxseed is a small fibrous seed that can benefit in regulating bowel movements and thus relieve constipation and stomach pain.
It was found that adults who suffered from constipation and took one ounce of flaxseed oil daily for two weeks experienced more bowel movements than before.(30)
A study has also found that those who took flaxseed muffins regularly had 30% more bowel movements each week than they did when they were not taking those flaxseed muffins.(31)
When you have an upset stomach and have lost lots of fluid through diarrhea or vomiting, you can take plenty of fluids to replenish the lost fluids and prevent dehydration.
Sometimes doctors recommend taking liquid diets to help settle an upset stomach.
Some fluids that you can take when you have an upset stomach and experiencing diarrhea or vomiting are plain water, electrolyte drinks, fresh juice, popsicles, clear broth, herbal tea, and weak tea without milk.
Foods You Should Say A Strict “NO” When Your Stomach Is Upset
Below are some foods which must be avoided when your stomach is upset.
Citrus Fruits and High Acid Foods
High-acid-containing foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes can cause acid reflux and stomach pain. This can worsen your symptoms and can cause nausea and heartburn. Some foods that are rich in acid are limes, grapes, oranges, pineapples, sugar, and processed foods. So, make sure when you have an upset stomach, you avoid these foods.
Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Though raw fruits and vegetables are good for our health, when they are consumed on an upset stomach, can make diarrhea even worse. This is because these foods are rich in fiber. So, if you have an upset stomach, try to keep away from raw fruits and vegetables for some time.
Milk, cheese, ghee, and ice cream are hard for your body to digest because they are packed with fat. So, if your stomach is upset, you should avoid these dairy products.
However, you can take plain low-fat containing yogurt as they are good for your stomach health, being rich in probiotics that help in maintaining gut health.
Caffeine And Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can increase the acidity levels in your stomach and make you feel more nauseous. Caffeine can also aggravate symptoms of diarrhea. So, ignore caffeine and alcohol when your stomach is upset.
Fried foods like French fries, and chips, should also be strictly avoided when you have an upset stomach.
Eat The Right Foods And Take Care Of Your Upset Stomach!
You might experience an upset stomach at any time. It is quite uncomfortable and hard to deal with this condition, especially if you are experiencing bowel problems. However, eating the right foods and avoiding the foods that can worsen your condition can help you go through the tough and embarrassing times of an upset stomach.
NOTE: Make sure you consult with your doctor if you are experiencing severe issues with an upset stomach.