What are the best foods for an upset stomach?

Below are some foods and liquids that could help to settle an upset stomach, or prevent further complications.

Fluids

A person can lose a lot of fluids through diarrhea or vomiting. They will need to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration.

Doctors sometimes recommend short-term clear liquid diets to help settle an upset stomach.

Below are some fluids that can help replenish water and electrolytes without causing further upset to the stomach:

  • plain water
  • clear broths
  • diluted fruit juice or squash
  • popsicles made from frozen diluted fruit juice
  • electrolyte drinks
  • weak tea without milk
  • herbal teas
  • Jell-O

Drinking enough liquids is also essential for someone who has constipation. Fluids help to soften stools, allowing them to pass more easily through the bowels. This helps keep bowel movements regular.

Broths

If a person is unable to eat or keep food down, they may be able to tolerate a simple vegetable or bone broth.

Bone broth contains the amino acid glutamine. A 2017 study notes that glutamine plays a role in maintaining the intestinal barrier (IB). The IB helps to protect the body from harmful pathogens and toxins. It also helps a person to absorb water and nutrients from their food.

According to an older review from 2009, IB dysfunction is a major contributory factor to the following inflammatory diseases:

  • food allergies
  • IBDs
  • celiac disease

Applesauce

Apples contain antioxidants called polyphenols. According to a 2015 review, polyphenols may help alleviate inflammation associated with IBDs. According to the review, dietary polyphenols may help to:

  • regulate a person’s immune response, thereby controlling inflammation
  • protect the lining of the gut from damage
  • improve the gut microbiome, which is the term for the trillions of microorganisms that live inside the digestive tract

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Stewed apples or applesauce are easier to digest than the whole fruit.

Bananas

Bananas can help to replenish potassium and other electrolytes that a person may lose as a result of vomiting or diarrhea.

Bananas make up part of the “BRAT” diet, which some people recommend for an upset stomach with diarrhea. The acronym “BRAT” stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These bland foods are gentle on the stomach, so they might help prevent further stomach upset.

Ginger

Ginger can help combat feelings of nausea. A person can make ginger tea by slicing or grating fresh ginger and adding hot water. Sipping the mixture may help to settle an upset stomach.

Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties that could help alleviate IBDs.

A 2019 study investigated the effects of daily ginger supplements on participants with ulcerative colitis, which is a form of IBD. Over 12 weeks, participants with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis received either 2 grams (g) of a ginger supplement per day or a placebo.

Participants who had taken the ginger supplements showed reduced disease activity and increased quality of life, compared with those who took the placebo.

However, the authors note that scientists need to conduct further clinical trials using different dosages and durations of ginger supplementation to confirm the findings.

Linseed for constipation

People who have constipation can try taking linseed oil while increasing their fluid intake. This combination should encourage soft, bulky stools that help keep a person regular.

A person can try sprinkling linseed on their breakfast cereal or adding the seeds to a smoothie.

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Try to drink plenty of water while taking linseed, otherwise, stools may become bulky and hard. This might make constipation worse.

Probiotic-rich foods

Probiotics offer health benefits for the digestive system and the immune system. People can take probiotic supplements or eat foods that are naturally rich in probiotics.

A person may want to consume probiotic foods if they have just finished a course of antibiotics, or as an add-on treatment for chronic digestive issues.

Probiotic-rich foods may not suit people who are experiencing an upset stomach with bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. However, after recovering from these issues, a person may want to consume probiotics to replenish their beneficial gut bacteria

Probiotic-rich foods include:

  • natural, unsweetened yogurt
  • kefir
  • sauerkraut
  • miso
  • tempeh
  • kombucha
  • kimchi

References

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About the Author: Tung Chi