We’ve all been there - vomiting, diarrhoea, sickness bugs, nausea…I bet no one on the planet hasn’t experienced this at some point. But what should you eat when you are experiencing an upset stomach?
At The Gut Co we have some tips and tricks to help soothe that stomach and alleviate the symptoms you are experiencing.
Why Do I Have an Upset Stomach?
There can be many reasons you are experiencing stomach upset, and we’ll go through some of the most common causes.
Food sensitivities and intolerances could cause an upset stomach1 - perhaps you don’t even know you are intolerant to a food. It’s important to remember that food intolerances can appear throughout your life and can be exasperated by an unhealthy gut microbiome.
Bacterial or viral infections can cause stomach upset, too.1 Although we can all catch bugs occasionally, you may want to consider how well your immune system functions if this happens often.
It’s the immune system's job to fight off foreign invaders. An unhealthy gut microbiome can limit how well the immune system works due to the majority of the cells of the immune system existing within the gut.
Medication, particularly antibiotics, could be the cause of an upset stomach.1 Antibiotics do a great job of killing off the bacteria that are doing you harm. Still, unfortunately, they cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria and kill everything they come into contact with.
This can cause an unhealthy gut microbiome, as it upsets the balance between good and bad bacteria and makes the gut microbiome less diverse, which is necessary for it to function well.
Our brain and gut are connected through complex signals sent back and forth to look after our overall health, known as the gut-brain axis. When stressed, the brain sends an alert to the gut to increase serotonin production, which speeds up digestion. This can lead to an urgent need to go or even accidents.2
Chronic conditions, meaning incurable but treatable conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), can cause stomach issues.1 The most common symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and excess gas.
Some more severe reasons you may be experiencing stomach upset are appendicitis, some cancers, faecal impaction or intestinal obstruction.1 If your symptoms do not improve after a few days or you are experiencing severe pain, it’s essential to contact your healthcare provider immediately.
What Should I Eat To Help My Upset Stomach?
When your stomach is unwell, you want to look for gentle foods that won’t aggravate the gut. A helpful acronym for remembering gentle foods on the stomach is B.R.A.T. This stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast.3
Ginger is also an excellent tool for combatting nausea and is gentle on the stomach. You can consume this however you enjoy it most - but sliced or grated ginger in hot water can give you a great-tasting ginger tea that may just help you feel better.3
Probiotic foods or supplements can be great for alleviating stomach issues,3 as they add new species of good bacteria to the gut microbiome, increasing the diversity, which is critical for optimum health.
Fermented foods such as kimchi, some cheeses, yoghurt, pickles, kombucha and sauerkraut are all great sources of probiotics.
A probiotic supplement can help you achieve this without altering your diet. Probiotics are particularly good at relieving symptoms of chronic illnesses such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease, as they provide consistency for your gut microbiome.
Liquids are essential when you are experiencing an upset stomach, as dehydration can result from bodily fluids loss.3 You often sweat, lose fluid through diarrhoea and sickness, and need more water if you are experiencing constipation to help digestion.
When you begin to recover, slightly less gentle foods such as scrambled eggs and cooked vegetables can be added to your diet to increase nutrients and variety into your diet.3 These foods are less likely to irritate your digestive system than spicy, greasy or fatty foods.
We all sometimes suffer from an upset stomach, and removing the shame from the experience can also help alleviate symptoms. As we know, stress can worsen symptoms, give yourself a break and remember it’s a widespread occurrence across the population.
Gentle foods are the way to go, and identifying the issue can help to combat the problem. Once you know why your stomach is upset, you can eliminate the cause of the problem or begin to heal through hydration, gentle foods and taking care of yourself.