Best Foods for an Upset Stomach

An upset stomach can ruin your entire day. It can be a truly horrible experience. Many of us have felt the unpleasantness of having an upset stomach, be it from food poisoning, a stomach virus, or a medical condition such as irritable bowel syndrome.

In addition to feeling nauseous, an upset stomach can cause bloating, diarrhea, cramping, and vomiting. What you eat can either worsen or ease these symptoms. Luckily, many cases of an upset stomach, depending on the cause, can be treated at home by eating or drinking certain things.

1. Common Causes of an Upset Stomach

Upset stomachs are very common and are caused by various factors. Some causes of an upset stomach include:

1.1 Food Poisoning

Food poisoning causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. This inflammation can cause symptoms, such as abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, food poisoning can also lead to dehydration.

1.2 Food Intolerance

Ingesting food that doesn’t agree with you will give your stomach a rough time. Depending on the severity of the intolerance, it can cause anything from frequent stomach aches and abdominal pain to bloating and gas. Eating foods that contain an offending ingredient may also lead to nausea and digestive issues, such as heartburn, acid reflux, or constipation.

1.3 Stress and Anxiety


Stress and anxiety can also increase acid levels in the stomach. Chronic or long-term stress and anxiety can also disrupt hormones and neurochemicals, as well as cause inflammation or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Stress and anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, cramps, or even the feeling of butterflies in the stomach.

1.4 Infections

Common bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections will trigger an inflammatory response in the stomach and intestines, which can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Viral infections such as norovirus or rotavirus are often responsible for outbreaks of stomach flu.

1.5 Allergies

Food allergies can cause an upset stomach by triggering your body’s inflammatory response. When your body recognizes a food allergen, it releases histamine and other substances as an immune response. These can cause inflammation, leading to a range of digestive issues.

1.6 Eating Too Much, Too Fast

Consuming too much food in a short period can overwhelm the digestive system. When your stomach feels overfull and stretched, you can feel uneasy or nauseous. This may even lead to vomiting.

1.7 Greasy or Spicy Foods

Spicy food

Greasy foods contain high levels of fat, so they are harder to digest. Spicy foods have compounds, such as capsaicin, which can increase acid production in the stomach and lead to irritation.

1.8 Too Much Caffeine or Alcohol

Alcohol and caffeine can both cause an upset stomach when consumed in excess. Caffeine is a stimulant that can lead to increased acid production in the stomach, which can cause uncomfortable burning.

Alcohol is a depressant that can irritate the stomach lining, leading to nausea and abdominal pain. Additionally, both substances can cause dehydration, which disrupts the balance of electrolytes in the digestive system and leads to abdominal cramps.

1.9 Other causes of an upset stomach include:

  • Ulcers
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Chronic digestive system conditions
  • Medications
  • Endocrine issues
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Gastroparesis

2. What to Drink and Eat for an Upset Stomach

2.1 Ginger

Ginger is a powerful natural remedy with many health benefits, including being effective in relieving an upset stomach. It has long been used in traditional therapy, as it contains many medicinal compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

One of the ways it relieves an upset stomach is by calming the smooth muscles in the walls of the gastrointestinal tract, helping it to relax and aiding digestion. In addition, ginger can help reduce symptoms of nausea and indigestion, making it effective in relieving moments of stomach distress.

How to Take It

Ginger can be consumed in many forms, either fresh or as a powder, syrup, tincture, capsule, extract, or tea. Fresh ginger can be sliced and added to meals, used as a condiment, or juiced and added to a smoothie.

Powdered ginger can be added to meals or mixed with warm water to make tea. The most popular, and perhaps the most convenient, way to use ginger is in tea bag form. You’ll find plenty of ginger tea bags in supermarkets.

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Tea bags, along with ginger capsules, tinctures, or syrups, are often the easiest form of ginger to consume during an upset stomach.

2.2 Bananas

Bananas are a great snack for relieving an upset stomach. They contain natural antacids, which help to neutralize stomach acid and reduce the discomfort of a mildly upset stomach. The consumption of this high-potassium fruit also aids in augmenting mucus production in the gut, shielding the stomach lining from inflammation.

This fruit also provides a source of glucose, helping to maintain energy and digestion. Bananas are rich in fiber, which helps regulate the digestive system and ease the passage of stools to reduce constipation. Eating a banana can help soothe the gut and reduce symptoms such as gas, bloating, and cramping.

How to Take It

You can eat a ripe banana as is, or you can consume it with other soothing foods, such as oatmeal, toast, or yogurt, which can provide additional relief to an upset stomach.

If you don’t feel like eating a whole banana, making a smoothie is an easy and tasty option. This will allow your stomach to absorb the beneficial properties of the banana faster. Adding a few slices of ginger to a banana smoothie can offer additional relief.

2.3 Applesauce

Applesauce is a simple and delicious treat that has been used for generations to soothe upset stomachs. Apples contain pectin, a soluble fiber that has demonstrated to improve digestive symptoms, such as constipation, when taken in high quantities. Applesauce can also help to reduce inflammation.

How to Take It

Applesauce can be made from fresh or canned apples and often sweetened with sugar or honey. The sauce can be eaten as is, or it can be blended with coconut milk, almond milk, or water to make a smoothie.

If you have an upset stomach, it may be beneficial to choose an unsweetened apple sauce. This will help to further reduce the amount of sugar and potentially acidic ingredients, allowing your stomach to process the apples more efficiently.

Those who find it difficult to digest foods can add cinnamon to applesauce to help with digestion. Additionally, it is best to avoid adding other potentially difficult-to-digest foods such as nuts, raisins, or other dried fruit.

2.4 White Rice

White rice

When you’re suffering from an upset stomach, it’s best to opt for more easily digestible, gentle ingredients such as white rice. Unlike whole grains, refined grains, like white rice, are much lower in fiber, which can help reduce discomfort and give your digestive tract the chance it needs to heal.

As a bland carbohydrate, white rice is also a great source of B vitamins, which help with digestion.

How to Take It

Steamed plain white rice with a little salt and no other seasonings works best for an upset stomach.

2.5 Toast

Plain toast is a good go-to when your stomach is feeling upset. It’s easy to digest and contains only simple carbohydrates that can be easily absorbed. Dry toast is also bland, which can be helpful if your stomach is feeling queasy.

How to Take It

To calm your system and feel better, simple white-bread toast, rather than whole grains, is the best option. Whole grains, which are rich in fiber, can further irritate an upset stomach. Snacking on plain toast with nothing added may be best.

2.6 Crackers

Similar to plain toast, consuming crackers can help soothe an irritated stomach. If you’re dealing with stomach pains, crackers made with refined white flour or other low-fiber ingredients are an ideal option because of their blandness and easily digestible nature.

The last thing you want to do is eat when your tummy doesn’t feel great, so you might get a little hungry. Munching on crackers can also help you stave off hunger and fight bloating until you feel up to eating a full meal.

How to Take It

Consuming salted crackers may help to restore sodium levels in the body that may have been lost from excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea.

2.7 Papaya


Papaya is a popular fruit that has long been known to help with upset stomachs. The fruit contains papain, a digestive enzyme believed to break down the proteins and carbohydrates in your stomach, which makes digestion easier. It also has a gentle laxative effect that can help relieve inflammation.

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Overall, papaya can help soothe your digestive tract and reduce symptoms such as stomach pain, gas, and bloating. Studies have even highlighted papaya as a potential remedy for ulcers and gastritis.

How to Take It

To reap the most benefits, buy a ripe papaya and eat it fresh. You can also opt for canned papaya or make a papaya smoothie for a tasty and nutritious way to settle your stomach.

2.8 Broths

If your stomach is upset, a clear broth soup can be the perfect remedy. It helps you stay hydrated and keep your digestive system clear. Choose a soup without too much grease or spice, as these substances can worsen your symptoms.

How to Take It

Some great soups to try are classic chicken soup or miso soup. The lower the fat content, the better. If you’re looking for an easy and less perishable broth option, bouillon cubes may be your best choice. These cubes can be quickly dissolved in hot water to create a flavorful and satisfying broth.

2.9 Peppermint

Peppermint is a naturally occurring herb and one of the most traditionally used remedies for addressing digestive issues such as nausea and indigestion. The plant’s menthol-rich leaves, oil, extract, and tincture have been used for centuries to soothe symptoms caused by indigestion, gas, and bloating.

It has antispasmodic properties that can also calm the muscles of the stomach, intestines, and bile ducts and increase the flow of bile, a digestive acid essential for efficient digestion.

How to Take It

Those suffering from an upset stomach can take peppermint in a variety of forms. Peppermint tea is one of the most popular ways to consume the herb. Simply prepare a cup of tea using peppermint leaves and sweeten it with honey if desired.

You can also take peppermint oil or extract capsules, or purchase peppermint tinctures for quicker digestion, and an immediate calming effect.

No matter which forms you take, peppermint can be a powerful tool for soothing an upset stomach.

2.10 Chamomile

Chamomile is a flowering herb long known for its calming, anti-inflammatory, and digestive properties. It has been used to ease upset stomachs and other gastrointestinal disorders since ancient times.

The herb is also a mild antispasmodic, helping to relieve painful spasms associated with stomach cramps and bloating. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory properties may help to speed up the healing process for digestive issues such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

It’s important to note that while chamomile is generally considered safe for most adults, it may interfere with certain medications and should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women without speaking to a doctor first.

How to Take It

When consumed as tea, chamomile can help to reduce tension, balance stomach acids, and soothe irritation in the gut.

2.11 Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar doesn’t taste great, but it’s a natural antacid and anti-inflammatory. It can help reduce the symptoms of heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, and nausea. Additionally, it helps stimulate digestion, restore the pH balance in the stomach, and improve the absorption of nutrients from food.

How to Take It

To enjoy the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar with a large glass of water or another beverage of your choice, such as juice or tea. Drink the mixture regularly, either once or twice a day.

If you’re taking apple cider vinegar with water and hate how it tastes, you can try adding honey to the mixture.

Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to certain substances, and some of us suffer from acute or chronic health conditions. It’s always best to seek professional medical advice when trying some remedies.

2.12 Probiotic-Rich Foods

Probiotics are living microorganisms (bacteria) that are naturally present in the digestive system. They are commonly referred to as “good bacteria”. These microorganisms help digestion, support the immune system, produce vitamins, and even reduce the occurrence of certain illnesses.

The beneficial bacteria in the digestive system can help restore balance to an upset stomach. Consuming probiotic-rich foods can play an important role in maintaining digestion and preventing future stomach upset.

How to Take It

Some of the best probiotic-rich foods to eat when your stomach is upset include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, and kimchi.

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3. Foods to Avoid on an Upset Stomach

It is best to avoid foods that may be too greasy, spicy, acidic, or processed when dealing with an upset stomach. Excessive amounts of meat, cheese, and desserts can be too heavy and take longer to digest, which worsens nausea and stomach pain.

Listed are some foods that can make an upset stomach worse.

  • Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and ice cream
  • Caffeine, such as coffee, caffeinated sodas, and caffeinated teas
  • Insoluble fibers, such as vegetables, whole grains, and wheat bran
  • High FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) foods, such as beans, garlic, onion, cauliflower, avocado, celery, and asparagus
  • Sugary foods, such as cakes, pastries, and chocolate milk
  • High-fat meats, such as beef
  • Alcohol

4. FAQs about an Upset Stomach

4.1 What are the most common symptoms of an upset stomach?

The most common symptoms of an upset stomach include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Other symptoms may include burping, bloating, acid reflux, and feeling full quickly when eating.

4.2 When should I see a doctor for my upset stomach?

Everyone has suffered from an upset stomach at some time. It’s one of the most common digestive problems we face. Typically, taking natural remedies or consuming certain foods will ease an upset stomach.

However, you still need to be careful and monitor your symptoms. It is best to see a doctor if your upset stomach persists for more than a few days, or if you have any unusual symptoms, such as severe pain, persistent vomiting, fever, or bleeding that are not improving.

4.3 What dietary changes can help relieve an upset stomach?

Some dietary changes that can help relieve an upset stomach include avoiding large meals, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding spicy and greasy foods. Eating smaller, more frequent meals, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and eating foods high in fiber, also helps.

Additionally, taking probiotics or consuming probiotic-rich foods can help improve gut health, which alleviates symptoms of an upset stomach, or even acts as a preventive measure.

5. The Takeaway

An upset stomach affects everyone at some point. The condition can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, but several foods and drinks can help relieve the symptoms. From drinking ginger tea and avoiding spicy foods to taking supplements such as probiotics and anti-inflammatories, there is hope for a fast recovery from an upset stomach.

It’s important to be mindful of the foods you eat and to stay hydrated. You should also speak to a medical professional if the symptoms of your upset stomach are severe or persistent.

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