Whilst having an upset stomach is something everyone has from time to time, that doesn’t stop it from being uncomfortable, painful, and often embarrassing. Digestive problems can be triggered by a wide range of factors, food intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, eating too quickly (or too much!) can all be potential reasons for your discomfort. You may already be aware of your trigger foods and successful avoiding them but when a trigger food creeps into your diet you may need a helping hand to ease any discomfort caused.
Although some foods might be worth avoiding if you have an upset stomach, others alongside some simple therapeutic remedies are worth turning to for help in your time of need. Next time your digestion is causing you trouble, why not try out one of the tips below as a natural way of treating an upset stomach.
1) Ditch the caffeine
When you’re suffering from stomach problems, the last thing you want to do is cause any more aggravation. That means ditching the tea, coffee, and any other sources of caffeine such as chocolate and energy drinks. Unfortunately for caffeine fiends, the stimulant is notorious for triggering inflammation of the stomach lining, heartburn, and the abdominal pain that accompanies an upset stomach. If might even be that if you’re drinking too much caffeine – the recommendation is around 400mg a day, or 4 cups of coffee – this may be the source of your stomach upset in the first place.
2) Avoid processed and sugary foods
It’s also a good idea to avoid any processed foods and those that are high in sugar, especially if you have a sugar intolerance. A diet high in sugar encourages the growth of bad bacteria in the gut which can result in bloating, wind, and diarrhoea.
Instead, when you have an upset stomach, try to eat simple, natural foods. Banana is a good choice; as well as being relatively bland, which your stomach will appreciate, bananas are also full of fibre which can help to promote regular digestive function and help to treat stomach upset. They can also help to replace essential potassium lost through diarrhoea or vomiting.
3) Brew up some herbal tea
Just because you’ve dropped the caffeine doesn’t mean that you need to abstain from tea altogether, and some herbal brews can actually help to ease the symptoms of an upset stomach.
For example, tea made from ginger root has been used as a traditional and effective remedy for centuries. The root contains the active constituent gingerol, which as well as being responsible for the root’s fiery taste works to stimulate the production of saliva, bile, and gastric juices, making it ideal for treating an upset stomach. Ginger can also stave off nausea, ease the symptoms of heartburn, and reduce inflammation.
If you’re not a fan of ginger, you could always try mint tea, peppermint or spearmint. Mint tea has been used traditionally not only as a decongestant to relieve nasal congestion but for indigestion. Menthol the active oil in mint can calm stomach upsets and is anti-spasmodic so soothing for a gripy, achy stomach. It contains antiseptic and antibacterial properties so good to use for a tummy bug. To get the most out of the mint, just steep whole leaves in hot water for around 5-10 minutes, and take as a refreshing tea.
4) Get some grapefruit seed extract
Grapefruit seeds are packed with a number of powerful bitter tasting antimicrobial and antibacterial compounds. The polyphenol in grapefruit seeds can help to kill fungal pathogens found in the digestive tract, which could improve the symptoms of IBS. If your stomach upset is being caused by pathogens or a fungal infection, then grapefruit seed extract – available in either a capsule or concentrated liquid form – could be an effective remedy. A must have in your first aid kit when travelling!
5) Try a massage
Not all upset stomach treatments involve tackling the problem from the inside, and some of the most effective and instant remedies involve direct external action. For example, massaging the stomach clockwise with a drop of chamomile essential oil in some olive oil or grape seed oil, can ease muscle spasms that accompany digestive upset. That’s because the essential oils found in chamomile are anti-spasmodic and relax the lining of the digestive tract, which eases the sudden and sharp pains that can accompany digestive problems.
Or, if you don’t have any chamomile to hand and need instant relief, simply try applying heat to the stomach; you could use a hot water bottle, a heat pack, or if you’re really in need a fresh batch of warm printer paper should do the job. The heat increases blood flow on the surface of the skin easing the feeling of pain inside the stomach, and relaxes tensed up and spasming muscles.
6) Stay hydrated
Sometimes the best solution is the simplest one, and this can often very well be the case with stomach upset. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of digestive problems, and as such sometimes making sure that you drink plenty of fluids can help to ease and prevent the discomfort of muscle cramps, bloating, and gas. However – as you know by now – avoid drinks containing caffeine and sugar, and try just stick to water or the herbal teas suggested.
Whilst all these options are great natural remedies for treating an upset stomach, it’s important to remember that they’re probably only a temporary solution. Whilst it’s normal to have digestive problems from time to time, if your stomach upset is chronic, you should see a doctor to see if an underlying problem might be the cause.
Afterwards, once you’ve ruled out any other problems, it’s worthwhile seeing if a food intolerance might be behind your discomfort with a yorktest Food&DrinkScan. That way, you can work on helping to relieve your upset stomach on a long term basis, knowing the root cause.
Choose the test that’s right for you
Emily Catterall, 24: IBS
“I feel like I’m in a new body! I’m so much healthier. I can’t tell you how amazingly different I have felt since!”
Sally Gunnell OBE, 52: Energy levels
“I’m not waking up as much during the night, not as bunged up in my nose and I’ve got so much more energy”