Stomach Ache? What to Eat to Feel Better
Soothe your tummy
Upset stomach? Whether it's nausea, vomiting, or just a general icky feeling due to a stomach bug or something you ate, you want to feel better—now.
Sadly, your doctor may say that the best treatment is to just wait until the germ or symptoms run their course. However, choosing the right food may make that waiting period a bit easier.
Here's a guide to what the experts generally recommend to soothe tummy trouble.
Watch the video: The Best Foods for an Upset Stomach
Bananas are the first item in the "brat" diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast), which has been used by generations to soothe bellies.
Bananas contain potassium, which you may need if you're dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhea, says Robynne Chutkan, MD, assistant professor in the division of gastroenterology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC.
They also contain sugar so you get calories at a time when you're probably not eating much. But they're not so sweet it will make you nauseous, she adds.
Starchy foods also don't sit in the stomach for long periods of time, nor do they stimulate acid reflux, which would make you feel even worse, says Amit Bhan, MD, service chief of gastroenterology at Henry Ford Health System, in West Bloomfield, Mich.
"If the cause of distress is constipation, then an apple can help," says Dr. Chutkan. "When someone is having diarrhea, you want the applesauce."
Toast won't cause acid reflux, so you'll feel better. It also doesn't sit in the stomach like a high-fat meal, which would make you feel increasingly uncomfortable.
But leave off the butter and jam until you're feeling better.
Broth, in particular, is great for an upset stomach.
Both the liquid and a high salt content can keep you hydrated. "Salt, when it's in the bloodstream, helps draw fluid in," says Dr. Chutkan. Of course, if you have high blood pressure, look for low-salt varieties so you'll still get the liquid benefit.
"Soup or broth, if not cooked in fat, is very easily digested. It's well-tolerated and you don't get nauseous or have reflux," says Dr. Bhan.
As long as you don't have high blood pressure, plain old saltines may be the way to go (although low-salt versions of saltines are now available).
But stay away from peppermint tea. It can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid and other stomach contents to splash up into the esophagus and cause heartburn.
It contains natural sugar to provide calories as well as electrolytes, such as potassium. It also contains vitamin C.
Plus it has no artificial ingredients such as food colorings. "I'm a big fan of coconut water," says Dr. Chutkan.
Ginger has long been touted as a way to calm upset stomachs, but doesn't have the strong evidence to back up the claim, despite its reputation.
"I don't think there's any hard scientific data to support that. It's just a spice [though] it's generally well tolerated," says Dr. Bhan.
Some people find ginger helpful and may even soak it in water or make ginger tea to quell queasiness, says Dr. Chutkan.