We’ve all been there- doubled over in pain with gas, bloating or constipation due to something bad we ate. During times like this, food might be the last thing on your mind. But the truth is that the right foods can help you ease your symptoms and fight an upset stomach the natural way without the use of harsh medications.
Sometimes, the worst thing you can do when you have an upset stomach is to avoid food as you likely need something healing with lots of fiber and anti-inflammatory properties to help pass whatever is in your system. Here are the 22 best foods for an upset stomach along with an explanation as to why they work.
Ginger should always be your go-to when you have an upset stomach. It contains a substance known as gingerol that has been shown to relieve nausea and indigestion fast, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Ginger is especially useful for the treatment of morning sickness and vomiting after surgery due to chemotherapy. It also reduces muscle pain and soreness, which is helpful if abdominal pain is one of your symptoms. One study found that ginger helps relieve an upset stomach because it speeds up the process by which the stomach empties itself. And the quicker you get the bad stuff out, the sooner you’ll feel better. Taking ginger in capsule form when you have an upset stomach with a full glass of water is best when you have an upset stomach. If you have recurring stomach troubles, you might want to make ginger part of your daily supplement regimen.
Oatmeal sounds pretty dull, but it’s a good stick to your ribs food with a bland taste that won’t cause further stomach problems for you. Plus, it’s full of both soluble and insoluble fiber to help move the contents of your stomach out of your system. Many people get an upset stomach when they get an urge to go to the bathroom but can’t do the deed. Adding more bulk fiber to your diet can help ease the pain of bowel movements. It can also help keep you regular so that you don’t have this problem again in the future. Make sure your oatmeal is gluten free and organic if possible. Be sure not to add any refined sugar as this will make your stomach worse. Raw honey, blueberries, and some flaxseeds are all full of tummy-soothing ingredients that should help ease your tummy trouble.
3. Slippery Elm
Slippery elm is an herb with mucilaginous properties, which means that it helps soothe the mucosal lining of your gut by coating it with a protective layer. Research shows that slippery elm improves the symptoms of constipation and irritable bowel syndrome such as a bloated stomach, gas, straining, and diarrhea by 20 percent. It also improves stool consistency to make it easier to go. Slippery elm is often used to treat diverticulitis as well as diarrhea. You can take it in supplement form or sip on slippery elm tea for fast relief from an upset stomach. Or get creative and sprinkle slippery elm powder onto your oatmeal first thing in the morning to prevent a problem before it occurs.
Let’s face it. You can’t just eat nothing when your stomach hurts, even though food is probably the last thing on your mind. Bananas are generally pretty easy to digest, which makes them a good option for someone with stomach trouble. Plus, they are loaded with prebiotic fiber, which is the fuel that the good bacteria in your gut feeds off. This can help improve the overall health of your gut by support a healthy microbiome. Bananas also contain a unique type of fiber called pectin that is commonly found in over the counter laxatives to help you go. For a safe meal, try adding bananas to gluten-free oatmeal and a scoop of almond butter for protein and fat to help sustain you.
While we’re on the topic of gut health, it’s hard to ignore the most important supplement for your stomach of all. Probiotics aid in the development of all the good bacteria in your gut, which can significantly reduce symptoms of an upset stomach. They are soothing and work almost instantly to reduce bloating and gas. Probiotics help keep you regular and work best when you take them on a daily basis. Most people take a probiotic capsule daily while others try to eat a lot of naturally fermented foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut, and miso. If you’ve never taken a probiotic before, be sure to start slow. If you take too many at once, it could make your stomach pain worse.
Mint doesn’t just leave your breath smelling fresh. It also aids in the digestive process to relieve unwanted symptoms. This is because mint has a calming and soothing effect on the stomach and increases the secretion of bile in the liver, which helps ease digestion. Peppermint has also been shown to relieve abdominal pain due to gas and bloating. You can drink peppermint tea after meals to help keep flatulence down or chew on a few mint leaves for the same effect. If anyone asks, just tell them that it helps freshen your breath. No one needs to know of your tummy troubles! Be cautious when chewing mint gum as most gums contain sugar or sugar alcohols, which can make your stomach feel worse.
7. Aloe vera
You might be familiar with using aloe vera topically on your skin when you have a sunburn, but did you know that you can ingest aloe and get the same soothing effects on your tummy? Aloe is loaded with nutrients, including 75 different active compounds. It has vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and 20 out of the 22 amino acids with eight out of eight essential amino acids. In other words, aloe vera has everything you need to repair a damaged system. It works by flushing toxins out of the body that is causing pain. You can find 100 percent pure aloe vera juice at any health store, but don’t drink too much because it has a laxative effect if over consumed.
Fennel is an herb with natural anti-gas and anti-bloating properties. It contains aspartic acid, which has carminative properties that help expel gas from the stomach to provide instant relief. It also has anti-acidic properties that are commonly used in many antacid remedies to treat indigestion. When you eat fennel seeds, it acts as a laxative to help clear the bowels. The essential oils in fennel also have a stimulatory effect on the peristaltic motion of the intestines, which means that it quite literally pushes fecal matter out of your system where it can’t cause pain anymore. Try chewing on fennel after meals or even adding a few fennel seeds to your dishes to avoid any future problems and help support the digestive process.
Not only is papaya incredibly sweet and delicious, but it also contains the enzymes papain and chymopapain to help break down hard to digest proteins. It also soothes the stomach by encouraging a healthy environment, thanks to its high fiber and antioxidant properties. Eating papaya can help ease digestion, promote a bowel movement, and prevent constipation. Some research shows that it can even help relieve ulcers, too. Most people find that eating papaya in its fresh fruit form is most enjoyable, but it can be hard to find. Look for papaya extract in supplement form. It’s usually added to vitamins as a digestive enzyme due to its ability to help digest protein. Try taking some at meals where you know you’ll be eating lots of protein to help with the digestive process.
10. Boiled potatoes
Sometimes when you have an upset stomach, bland is best. It doesn’t get much safer than eating boiled potatoes. They are high in starch to help soak up any excess stomach acid that makes you feel sick or nauseous. Plus, when you eat them hot with a bit of sea salt, they are very comforting. You can add a little bit of chicken broth for added nutrients to help you stay hydrated. The chicken broth also adds some flavor to the potatoes. Boiled rice also works well as it’s high in starch and can fill an empty tummy quickly. Not to mention, rice is high in fiber to promote digestion. Stay away from gluten when you have an upset stomach as it tends to provoke an inflammatory response to make your symptoms worse.
Pineapple contains an anti-inflammatory enzyme known as bromelain that is especially beneficial for gut health and tissue healing. Enzymes assist with the breakdown of protein, so it’s a good idea to take bromelain at meals for instant relief. It also helps reduce inflammation in the colon by inhibiting proinflammatory cytokines that damage the gut so that you can absorb your nutrients more efficiently. Many people use bromelain to help heal their gastrointestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, constipation, and peptic ulcers. Additionally, bromelain is good at reducing inflammatory pain associated with an upset stomach. Try adding pineapple to your diet to reap the benefits of bromelain, or take it in supplement form.
12. Coconut water
Coconut water is the clear liquid that you find inside a young coconut. Not to be confused with coconut milk, coconut water is high in electrolytes, which can help ease stomach cramps and pain due to an upset stomach. Coconut water also keeps you hydrated to aid in the digestive process. If your stomach hurts because you’re constipated, then drinking water is key. This is because the longer fecal matter sits in your digestive tract, the more water is drawn from it, making it harder to move. Coconut water delivers over 14 vitamins and minerals to help restore gut health. It also contains phytonutrients and electrolytes from natural sugars to help keep things moving. Look for coconut water that isn’t pasteurized and don’t contain any additives or preservatives so that all the nutrients are still intact.
13. Golden milk
Golden milk is also known as turmeric tea. It’s made by mixing turmeric with milk, but you can use coconut or almond milk instead of cow’s milk to prevent further stomach distress. Turmeric is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods on the planet, and it’s health benefits have been studied extensively. It contains the active ingredient curcumin, which is noted for reducing inflammatory pain all over the body. Sipping on something hot can also feel good when your stomach is upset. To make golden milk, blend one cup of coconut milk with one teaspoon of turmeric and a pinch of cinnamon, black pepper (to activate the turmeric), ginger, and some raw honey to taste. Heat the mixture up on the stove and enjoy hot.
Sometimes you can’t enjoy solid food when your stomach is upset, but you still need to eat something. Yogurt is the perfect food for an upset stomach, but you’ll likely need to stay away from regular cow’s milk as it’s highly inflammatory and could cause further distress to your tummy. Look for unsweetened yogurt made with almond or coconut milk and add your own sweetener, such as raw honey. You can even add some berries to get in some extra fiber and antioxidants. Yogurt also contains naturally occurring probiotics in the form of live cultures to help instantly soothe your tummy. You can add it to smoothies as a thickening agent or eat it plain.
15. Raw honey
Raw honey is just about the only sweetener that is approved for gut health. According to one study, raw honey improves the gut microbial balance, which can help reduce the symptoms of an upset stomach or prevent one from occurring in the first place. Additionally, raw honey contains oligosaccharides that yield beneficial compounds that are needed to promote the prebiotic effect. Furthermore, honey has naturally occurring anti-bacterial properties to kill any bacteria making you feel sick. The trick is to look for raw honey and not the commercially processed stuff that you find in most grocery stores. In addition to looking for organic honey, make sure your honey contains the words “raw,” “local” and “unfiltered” on the label if possible. This means that your honey has not been heated to high temperatures, which kills off its nutrients.
Celery is one of those forgotten vegetables that are really good for your gut. This is because it is made of mostly water, which can help reduce bloating while keeping you hydrated. Celery is also high in several vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, folate, and vitamins B6, C, and K to help soothe a troubled tummy. Celery is also high in antioxidant flavonoids and polyphenols to help get rid of toxins that might be causing you distress. One study found that celery nourishes the intestines, colon, and stomach due to its alkaloid, flavonoid and tannin properties, which are needed to control the level of gastric acid released. These compounds also improve the protective mucus barrier that lines your gut.
17. Licorice root extract
Let’s be clear about something here. Licorice root is good for your stomach, but that doesn’t mean that you can go out and buy the red licorice candy found in most candy stores. Licorice root extract is a key herb used to treat leaky gut, which can cause bloating, gas, fatigue, constipation, and more. According to one study, licorice root extract was found to be effective against peptic ulcers, heartburn, nausea, indigestion, and stomach pain. It also works as a natural remedy against leaky gut by providing demulcent and anti-inflammatory properties to the area needed, which helps soothes inflammation and promotes calmness in the gut.
18. Caraway seeds
Caraway seeds contain certain oils that aid in digestion and help relax the gut. They are highly noted for their natural anti-flatulent abilities, which can help you naturally reduce bloating and gas. Not to mention, caraway seeds are an excellent source of fiber. Eating 100 grams of these seeds will provide you with 38 grams of fiber, which is 100 percent of the daily recommended intake for most people. You can chew on them after meals just like you would with fennel seeds, or add them to dishes with cooking.
An apple a day keeps an upset stomach away. That’s because apples are high in fiber and flavonoids such as quercetin, which has potent anti-inflammatory benefits in the body to reduce pain and bloating. Because apples are a FODMAP food, some people have trouble digesting them because they are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. In that case, try some unsweetened applesauce as it might be easier to digest. You can make your own applesauce at home by steaming some apples and blending them with water and cinnamon.
In addition to being high in fiber to move food through the intestinal tract, flax seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids to help reduce inflammation. In fact, most of the carbohydrate content in flax seeds are made of fiber. Eating just two tablespoons of flaxseed a day will provide you with up to 25 percent of your daily fiber needs. Flaxseeds are also high in a special type of omega 3 fatty acid called ALA that reduces inflammation and keeps cells healthy. Chia seeds are another good option for healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber. Try baking with flaxseed meal in place of gluten-laden flours to save yourself from tummy troubles next time.
21. Bone broth
If you’ve ever had the flu, then you know how good a hot cup of soup can taste. Bone broth contains key nutrients that help repair leaky gut syndrome, such as glycosaminoglycans, glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid. Plus, it has lots of vitamins and minerals to help heal and restore damaged gut tissues. You’ll need to look for bone broth at a health food store. Some people drink it like tea while others use it as a base for chicken soup, which brings us to our final food on this list.
22. Vegetable soup
When made correctly, vegetable soup has it all. It’s got vitamins and minerals from the vegetables in the soup plus antioxidants and fiber, too. Try making your own soup at home to avoid chemicals and other additives that might make your stomach worse. Use fresh, organic vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, bone broth, and your favorite anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, such as cumin, parsley, oregano, and more. You can even add some organic, antibiotic-free chicken for protein. Hold the noodles as gluten will worsen your stomach inflammation.