There are many potential reasons for a Stomach Hurt and treatments vary depending on the underlying cause.
Thankfully, a variety of foods can settle an upset stomach and help you feel better, faster.
Cramps and tummy aches are two issues women deal with on a regular basis due to hormone fluctuations and stress, but they can happen to both men and women if a stomach bug is a cause. Our digestive systems normally allow us to eat what we please, but at times they can seem quite demanding or uncooperative! When those times arrive, it’s important to give your tummy some special love.
Eating foods that are hard-to-digest on an already testy tummy is bound to lead to hours of pain, misery, and can even lead to gut inflammation. It’s common knowledge to lay off the greasy and heavier foods when cramps and digestion take over, but what many people don’t know, however, is what to actually eat besides just broth and soup until it passes.
If you’re generally hungry or haven’t eaten in a few hours, it’s important to give your body whole foods however possible. Many of them contain certain vitamins and minerals that not only support your health but can also aid in the relief process too.
Foods To Eat When You Have A Stomach Hurt
Rice is a top food to aid in digestion and is especially powerful at helping with cramps. It’s also one of the most popular grains for those with a gluten intolerance because it’s an anti-inflammatory grain, but is a terrific food for everyone. Rice contains high amounts of magnesium and potassium, which both relieve cramps and will reduce pain. Rice is also much lower in fiber than other grains. While fiber is a great thing, certain types can make digestive complications worse when your stomach isn’t at its working best.
Go for plain basmati rice (which is white but less refined than minute rice) or wild rice (which is a grass, not a grain) that are both easier than some other options like black or brown that contain more fiber. Rice is also high in resistant starch which means it can soak up toxins and whisk them out of the body—just what you need to get rid of a bug!
Applesauce fulfills the A part of the BRAT diet because of its pectin properties. Pectin works as a thickening agentto help form solid stool and prevent recurring diarrhea.
Ginger Can Relieve Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of an upset stomach.
Ginger, a fragrant edible root with bright yellow flesh, is frequently used as a natural remedy for both of these symptoms (1Trusted Source).
Ginger can be enjoyed raw, cooked, steeped in hot water or as a supplement, and is effective in all forms (2Trusted Source).
It’s often taken by women suffering from morning sickness, a type of nausea and vomiting that can occur during pregnancy.
A review of 6 studies including over 500 pregnant women found that taking 1 gram of ginger daily was associated with 5 times less nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (3Trusted Source).
Ginger is also helpful for people undergoing chemotherapy or major surgery, since these treatments can cause severe nausea and vomiting.
Taking 1 gram of ginger daily, prior to undergoing chemo or surgery, can significantly reduce the severity of these symptoms (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Ginger can even be used as a natural remedy for motion sickness. When taken beforehand, it can help reduce the intensity of nausea symptoms and speed of recovery time (7Trusted Source).
How this works is not entirely understood, but it’s hypothesized that ginger regulates nervous system signaling in the stomach and speeds up the rate at which the stomach empties, thereby reducing nausea and vomiting (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
Ginger is generally considered safe, but heartburn, stomach pain and diarrhea can occur at doses above 5 grams per day (9Trusted Source).
Mint is helpful in relieving a number of digestive complications, with cramps and nausea being two of the best. It reduces muscle spasms in the digestive tract and can help with the overall digestive process. This means it not only soothes, but also helps stagnant digestion that can occur during this time. Go for peppermint or spearmint leaves used in a smoothie or tea, tea bags, or even essential oils dropped in warm water for an instant tea.
Also a bland starch like white rice and white toast, potatoes when baked can work as a food you can keep down. Potatoes, like bananas, help make up for potassium depletion and soothe your tummy after a long day of upheavals (literally).
Licorice Can Reduce Indigestion and May Help Prevent Stomach Ulcers
Licorice is a popular remedy for indigestion and may also prevent painful stomach ulcers.
Traditionally, licorice root was consumed whole. Today, it’s most commonly taken as a supplement called deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL).
DGL is preferred over regular licorice root because it no longer contains glycyrrhizin, a naturally occurring chemical in licorice that can cause fluid imbalances, high blood pressure and low potassium levels when consumed in large quantities (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
Animal and test-tube studies show that DGL soothes stomach pain and discomfort by decreasing inflammation of the stomach lining and increasing mucus production to protect the tissues from stomach acid (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
This may be especially helpful for people suffering from an upset stomach caused by excessive stomach acid or acid reflux.
DGL supplements may also help relieve stomach pain and indigestion from stomach ulcers caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria known as H. pylori.
Several studies have shown that DGL supplements can eliminate H. pylori overgrowth, reducing symptoms and even promoting the healing of stomach ulcers (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
Overall, licorice is a soothing herb for the intestinal tract, and can help reduce inflammation and infections that may contribute to an upset stomach.
Sweet or White Potatoes
Both sweet and white potatoes are excellent sources of resistant starch that will not only help move things out of the body, but also quiet down an upset tummy in the meantime. It’s important to cook them thoroughly and enjoy them plain without much seasoning so they don’t cause an upset. Potatoes are also high in magnesium and potassium to reduce cramps, along with vitamin B6 to reduce tension in the body that can make cramps and digestion issues worse. You may need to leave the fiber-rich peels off to make your potatoes even easier to digest.
Green Bananas Help Relieve Diarrhea
An upset stomach caused by an infection or food poisoning is often accompanied by diarrhea.
Interestingly, several studies have found that giving cooked, green bananas to children with diarrhea can help reduce the amount, severity, and duration of episodes (45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).
In fact, one study found that the addition of cooked, green bananas was nearly four times more effective at eliminating diarrhea than a rice-based diet alone (47Trusted Source).
The powerful antidiarrheal effects of green bananas are due to a special type of fiber they contain known as resistant starch.
Resistant starch cannot be digested by humans, so it continues through the digestive tract all the way to the colon, the final portion of the intestines.
Once in the colon, it is slowly fermented by your gut bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids, which stimulate the bowels to absorb more water and firm up the stools (48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).
While these results are impressive, more studies are needed to see if green bananas have the same antidiarrheal effects in adults.
Additionally, since resistant starches are converted to sugars as a banana ripens, it’s not known whether ripe bananas contain enough resistant starch to have the same effects (50Trusted Source).
Bananas are a great source of fuel when you’re not feeling well, but be sure you enjoy them slightly spotted because bright yellow ones can cause stomach cramps since they’re not quite ripe which makes them harder to break down (ripe bananas are also higher in enzymes which aid in digestion too). Slightly ripe bananas, will, however, keep things moving along without causing upset or pain. They also contain high amounts of magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6 which are the top three nutrients to focus on when cramps arise.
Pectin Supplements Can Prevent Diarrhea and Dysbiosis
When a stomach bug or foodborne illness causes diarrhea, pectin supplements can help speed up recovery.
Pectin is a type of plant fiber found in high quantities in apples and citrus fruits. It’s often isolated from these fruits and sold as its own food product or supplement (51Trusted Source).
Pectin is not digested by humans, so it stays within the intestinal tract where it’s very effective at firming stools and preventing diarrhea (12Trusted Source).
In fact, one study found that 82% of sick children taking daily pectin supplements recovered from their diarrhea within 4 days, compared to only 23% of children not taking pectin supplements (47Trusted Source).
Pectin also relieves stomach upset by promoting the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract.
Sometimes, people develop uncomfortable symptoms of gas, bloating or abdominal pain due to an imbalance of bacteria in their intestines.
This can happen for a variety of reasons, but is especially common after gut infections, after taking antibiotics or during periods of high stress (52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source).
Pectin supplements can help rebalance the gut and reduce these symptoms by increasing the growth of good bacteria and reducing the growth of harmful ones (54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).
While pectin supplements are effective at relieving diarrhea and promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria, it’s unknown whether natural foods rich in pectin would have the same benefits. More research is needed.
Yogurt can be an excellent regulator in the body, though dairy can cause quite the upset for most people. However, yogurt’s bacteria is one of the most calming to the digestive tract and potent at reducing cramps, bloating, and aiding with digestion. It can also be more effective than some supplements or other fermented foods because the strains are different. To get the benefits of yogurt without dairy, go for soy, coconut, or almond milk yogurt that doesn’t have added sweeteners.