Foods That Can Make Your Stomach Feel Better

When you have an upset stomach, you may also experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps.

One of the most common causes of an upset stomach is gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the intestines sometimes referred to as the "stomach flu." 

When you’re feeling sick to your stomach or are experiencing stomach-related symptoms like diarrhea, it’s important to rest and keep yourself hydrated and properly fueled so that your body can recover. Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration and cause you to feel weak from not eating enough calories, so it’s critical to replenish your body with fluids and foods that are nutritious and easy on your digestive system.   

Here are the best foods and drinks that can make your stomach feel better. 

Illustration of best foods for an upset stomach

Illustration by Dennis Madamba for Health

Bananas

Stomach symptoms like nausea and vomiting can cause you to lose fluids and electrolytes, which are essential minerals — like sodium and potassium — that your body needs to maintain normal cellular function. It’s important to make sure you’re choosing electrolyte-rich foods when you’re sick.

Bananas are rich in potassium, so they’re a good choice for replenishing this important nutrient. Bananas are also a part of the BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, which are all easy to digest and can help you hold down food when your stomach is upset. Bananas are also a part of the bland diet, which is a little more expansive and includes foods that are low in fat, low in fiber and are easy to chew, like potatoes, and peanut butter. 

“The body does not need to work hard to break down and digest BRAT foods and bland foods,” Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN, registered dietician in the Cleveland Clinic Department of Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, told Health. “This provides a rest to the gut. The theory is that with low fiber and rest, bowel movements can eventually get back to normal”

White Rice

When your stomach is upset, refined grains like white rice are a better choice than whole grains because they’re lower in fiber and easier on your digestive tract, which allows it to heal more effectively. Also, white rice can help firm up your poop, so it could help improve diarrhea.

While wild, brown, or black rice are generally healthy and recommended for when you’re feeling well, they are harder to digest, especially on an upset stomach.

Applesauce

Applesauce, another food included in the BRAT diet, is easier to digest than raw apples since the apples are cooked and the skins are removed. Applesauce is also lower in fiber than raw apples, so it’s easier on your stomach and may help improve diarrhea. 

One medium fresh apple (182 grams) with its skin contains 4.37 grams of fiber compared to just 1.34 grams in a half cup of unsweetened applesauce (122 grams).

Applesauce also contains pectin, a type of soluble fiber that’s been shown to improve digestive symptoms like diarrhea in certain populations when taken in high doses. However, it’s unclear if the amount of pectin found in applesauce has any meaningful impact on diarrhea symptoms.

Toast

Toast, another food included in the BRAT diet, may be a safe choice when you’re dealing with an upset stomach. Refined white flour toast or gluten-free toast is lower in fiber than whole grain toast and is easier on your digestive system. 

Why toast over bread? Toasting bread turns it brown due to a process called the Maillard reaction, which enhances the taste, smell, and texture of the toast. This may make it toast more appetizing, especially when you’re not feeling well.

Just be sure to keep it plain or choose a bland topping like creamy peanut butter to prevent digestive upset.

Crackers

Similar to toast, crackers are a salty source of carbs that may help ease your upset stomach. Crackers made with refined white flour or other low-fiber ingredients are bland and easy to digest, making them a smart choice when you’re experiencing stomach discomfort. 

Eating salted crackers can also help replenish sodium you may have lost through sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea. 

Babcock advised eating five saltines and waiting 15 minutes before trying to eat a full meal. "This sometimes helps to settle the stomach before a more nutritious meal,” Babcock said.

Ginger

Ginger products like ginger tea and concentrated ginger supplements are sometimes used to manage nausea during pregnancy and chemotherapy and after surgery.

While studies aren't available regarding its use for an upset stomach caused by a virus or food poisoning, Kirkpatrick noted that some ginger products, like ginger tea, could help rehydrate you during a stomach illness and may help ease symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

Try adding fresh, minced ginger to tea and plain water, and even using chopped ginger to make refreshing and soothing ice cubes.

Broth

There’s a reason people tend to crave broth when they’re not feeling well. Broths like chicken stock and bone broth are packed with electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and calcium. Broth can help replenish fluids and minerals when you’ve been vomiting or experiencing diarrhea.

Plus, they’re easy on your digestive system. "Broths such as bone broth, vegetable broth, or dashi contain sodium, or salt, and some minerals in addition to water that can be helpful in restoring electrolytes, which are minerals in blood and tissues that your body needs to support proper hydration and function," Babcock said. 

Coconut Water

Coconut water may be an effective way to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium if you’ve been vomiting or have diarrhea.

In fact, coconut water is so effective for rehydration that it’s sometimes used as a rehydration solution in children with diarrhea caused by gastroenteritis and cholera. 

Even though drinking coconut water could help you rehydrate during a stomach illness, it’s important to limit your intake. Drinking too much could actually cause diarrhea, especially if the coconut water contains added sugar. Babcock also recommended looking for a brand with at least 180 milligrams of potassium per serving, since this electrolyte is lost from the body through vomiting or sweating.

Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are designed to rehydrate athletes after fluid loss due to sweating and strenuous activity. They usually contain carbohydrates and electrolytes, which can be helpful when you’re dealing with symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting.  

If you’re a healthy adult experiencing mild diarrhea or vomiting, it’s safe to turn to sports drinks to replace lost fluids and electrolytes and prevent dehydration.  

Babcock pointed out that sports drinks contain levels of sodium and minerals that closely match what is lost through vomiting or sweating. However, it’s important to be mindful of their sugar content and added dyes, which may aggravate a delicate digestive system. "Most sports drinks will contain some carbohydrate, often as added sugar such as glucose or dextrose, to replace the energy that is being lost while being extremely active. If you are under the weather and not eating normally, this can be helpful to keep your energy up," Babcock said.

As an alternative, try electrolyte powders or tablets that have around 300 milligrams of sodium, 25-40 milligrams of magnesium, 180-190 milligrams of potassium, and 7-10 grams of carbohydrates with no food dyes in the ingredients.

However, experts recommend that children and adults with weakened immune systems use an oral rehydration solution instead, such as Pedialyte, Naturalyte, Infalyte, and CeraLyte, as directed.  If you’re a parent or caregiver with a sick child, contact your child’s pediatrician for advice on safe and appropriate rehydration solution options.

Foods to Avoid

While certain foods and beverages could help you feel better and recover speedily from an upset stomach, others can have the opposite effect, making your symptoms worse. These foods include:

  • Foods high in fiber, like raw vegetables and whole grains
  • Foods high in fat like fried foods and ice cream
  • Acidic fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes
  • Foods high in sugar like dried fruits, high-fat dressings, and sauces
  • Vegetables that may cause excesses gas, like cabbage, cauliflower, and onions
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fatty meats like beef
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut

A Quick Review

When you’re dealing with an upset stomach, it’s best to avoid foods and drinks that are difficult to digest and those that may worsen symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain.

Foods and drinks like bananas, white rice, toast, crackers, and broth are gentle on your digestive system and provide the nutrients and fluid your body needs to recover. 

When you’re feeling better, it’s best to slowly reintroduce foods. Start with small portions of bland, easy-to-digest meals like chicken soup or a bit of grilled chicken, rice, and cooked vegetables.

If you’re experiencing severe diarrhea or vomiting and seem to can’t keep fluids or food down, contact your healthcare provider.

Was this page helpful?
Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Library of Medicine. Gastroenteritis.

  2. Weir SBS, Akhondi H. Bland diet. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  3. Sur M, Mohiuddin SS. Potassium. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bananas, ripe and slightly ripe, raw.

  5. Nemeth V, Pfleghaar N. Diarrhea. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  6. McRae MP. Health benefits of dietary whole grains: An umbrella review of meta-analysesJournal of Chiropractic Medicine. 2017;16(1):10-18. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2016.08.008

  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Apples, fuji, with skin, raw.

  8. My Food Data. Applesauce canned unsweetened without added ascorbic acid (includes USDA commodity).

  9. Teodorowicz M, van Neerven J, Savelkoul H. Food processing: the influence of the Maillard reaction on immunogenicity and allergenicity of food proteinsNutrients. 2017;9(8):835. doi:10.3390/nu9080835

  10. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Ginger.

  11. Segura-Badilla O, Lazcano-Hernández M, Kammar-García A, et al. Use of coconut water (Cocus nucifera L) for the development of a symbiotic functional drinkHeliyon. 2020;6(3):e03653. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e03653

Related Articles