Stomach cramps. Gas. Bloating. Whether it’s a certain food that just didn’t sit well with you, overeating, anxiety, or a stomach virus, sometimes your tummy just feels icky. When that happens, you need relief. (Keep in mind that certain foods — dairy, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, and even gluten — can do a number on your stomach, so you may want to try taking them out of your diet and seeing if your symptoms go away.)
If you’re looking to settle your stomach, try eating these foods.
Sip some mint tea and it will relieve gas and decrease cramping, says Jacqueline Wolf, M.D., physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of A Woman’s Guide To a Healthy Stomach. “However, mint also relaxes the high pressure zone between the esophagus and stomach and may give some people heartburn.”
If you’re prone to heartburn, you might try chamomile tea or another soothing herb tea. Avoid sugarless mint gum because its artificial sugars may cause gas, bloating and burping, Wolf adds.
Rice is an easy-to-digest food that increases the absorption of fluid, says Dr. Wolf. Eating some white rice when you’ve had the runs may restore your stool to normal and make your stomach feel better because the starch of the rice will coat your stomach.
To relieve nausea or vomiting, Dr. Wolf recommends ginger, which has anti-nausea properties. You can pour boiling water over slices of ginger and let it steep for several minutes, or find prepared ginger tea at your grocery store.
4. Aloe juice
Extracted from the aloe plant, which is commonly used to soothe burns, aloe juice has been known to coat your stomach and relieve heartburn and stomach aches. The juice, which is sold in health food stores, can also help push toxins out of your system and clear things out. But keep in mind that it can also act as a laxative, so watch how much you take.
This easy to peel fruit is easy to eat—and digest when your belly feels blah. Bananas can help firm up your stool, says Claudia Gruss, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association and a practicing gastroenterologist at the Arbor Medical Group in Norwalk, Connecticut. They also have potassium, which is good for you if you’ve been unable to eat due to prolonged illness.
Toast is a good option when you feel a little hungry after stomach distress, says Dr. Gruss. Top it with some jam and you’ve got an easily digestible mini-meal that will be tolerated by your tummy and give your body some sugar as well.
And some health web sites suggest that the char that forms when you burn toast can have a soothing effect on the stomach, so you may want to try overcooking it a bit.
High in antioxidants, fennel is known to have natural anti-gas properties, and can also help flush toxins from your system. Try eating a half a teaspoon of fennel seeds, or cut some fresh fennel to chew on.
8. Apple cider vinegar
You know apple cider, but you may not know about this vinegar, which is a fermented juice made from apples. Upset stomach is sometimes believed to be caused by a lack of acid in the stomach, not too much acid, as is commonly assumed. When too little acid is the case, putting more acid in your tummy can help.
Apple cider vinegar also contains a host of nutrients including vitamin B and vitamin C. The vinegar itself can be strong to the taste, so mix a tablespoon or two in hot water, add a little honey, and you’ll be good to go.
9. Plain yogurt
Dr. Wolf says no studies show that this helps, but you may benefit from the probiotics in plain unsweetened yogurt, particularly if you have diarrhea that has been caused by a course of antibiotics. The yogurt could add healthy bacteria to your gut, which can reduce pain and make it feel better.