It’s been a beautiful sunny summer so far but between the road trips, state fairs and backyard barbecues, you might be eating a ton of yummy food that also leaves your stomach a little unsettled. From nausea to bloating, gastrointestinal ailments are never fun. They get in the way of our plans, disrupt our productivity, sleep, and most importantly, prevent us from eating our favorite foods.
While it might take a little trial and error to figure out what works best for your tummy, certain foods can help ease stomach pains.
When it comes to morning sickness or even travel-related nausea, papaya is a useful tropical fruit for those unwelcomed disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract. Thanks to an enzyme called, “papain,” papaya aids in digestion by breaking down proteins to soothe stomach upset, stimulate our bowels for healthy function and ease the symptoms of IBS. Often used to tenderize meats, papaya can be eaten simply as a fruit — with its seeds too — or cooked like a vegetable if unripe. However, if you’re not a fan of its flavor, hit up the vitamin store for papain extract tablets.
Don’t laugh at that one friend of yours who’s always carrying around Altoids. It’s not a grandma-thing at all! In fact, think back to restaurants and the peppermints served at the end of every meal. The University of Maryland suggests mints are the perfect way to treat an upset stomach as they act as a potent antispasmodic that suppresses cramps to improve digestion. Whether it’s spearmint or peppermint, mints of any kind will help calm your tummy due in part to its aromatic ingredient, menthol.
If you think back to our childhood, you might remember how doctors would advise us to drink ginger ale. That’s no surprise because numerous studies commend the healing powers of this rooted spice. Aiding in the motility of your GI tract, ginger ensures things move smoothly for healthy digestion. Moreover, the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine suggests they’re also effective anti-nausea remedies that aid during pregnancy and for meals that leave you feeling bloated. To optimize on its potency, chew or steep some in hot water for a calming tea.
If you find yourself sprinting to the bathroom more often than usual, sip on coconut water. Rich in electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, this nearly colorless and mildly sweet, nutty beverage is a healthy alternative to energy drinks if you want to re-hydrate during a bout of diarrhea and dehydration. When our stomach linings are inflamed due to a disagreement of food or infection, coconut water helps speed up the absorption of water through the gut by soothing indigestion thanks to inflammatory agents like "tannins," which reduce irritation. For prime relief and reap the benefit of its natural immunity boosters, drink a glass of coconut water twice a day.
Because of its natural, water-soluble fiber known as "pectin," bananas are one of the more tolerable fruits that actually stay down. With enough sugar to get some calories in if you’re hesitant to eating a full meal, bananas not only firm bowels but also reduce nausea. Filled with simple carbohydrates that break down easily, it’s been said the more ripe a banana, the easier it digests. Additionally, its high amount of potassium helps balance minerals and fluids in your body, which give you an added energy boost.
While most dairy can be a downer to an upset stomach, yogurt can have a reverse effect. Whether plain organic yogurt or probiotic, the Cleveland Clinic suggests yogurt with active cultures can increase the number of “good bacteria” in your gut to support healthy digestion. Not only does it replace essential nutrients lost in your gut, but it also lines the intestines and protects against germs. Moreover, if you eat it enough, it reduces uncomfortable bloat.
Helpful for treating colic in infants and calming upset stomachs, fennel is a great reliever as it contains anti-gas properties known as "anethole," which encourages the stomach to move those gastric juices and reduce inflammation. With a similar taste to licorice, fennel breaks down noxious compounds responsible for smelly gas with its antibacterial agents that can kill off common pathogens like E.coli and salmonella.