- 8 Foods to Help You Poop
- Stomach Pain After Eating
- Why Does My Stomach Hurt after I Eat? FastMed Can Help You Find Out
- Home and natural remedies for upset stomach
- Twenty-one home remedies
- 1. Drinking water
- 2. Avoiding lying down
- 4. Mint
- 5. Taking a warm bath or using a heating bag
- 6. BRAT diet
- 7. Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol
- 8. Avoiding difficult-to-digest foods
- 9. Lime or lemon juice, baking soda, and water
- 10. Cinnamon
- 11. Cloves
- 12. Cumin
- 13. Figs
- 14. Aloe juice
- 15. Yarrow
- 16. Basil
- 17. Licorice
- 18. Spearmint
- 19. Rice
- 20. Coconut water
- 21. Bananas
- When to see a doctor
- 1. Plain Rice
- 2. Mint
- 3. Sweet or White Potatoes
- 4. Bananas
- 5. Non-dairy Yogurt
- What to Avoid for Healthy Digestion:
- 12 Foods & Drinks That Can Trigger A Stomach Ache
- 1. High Fiber Foods
- 2. Raw Veggies
- 3. Eating Too Fast
- 4. Protein Bars
- 5. Chewing Gum
- 6. Gluten
- 7. Dairy
- 8. Spicy Foods
- 9. Tomatoes
- 10. Carbonated Drinks
- 11. Butter
- 12. Alcohol
8 Foods to Help You Poop
When it comes to staying regular, it’s all about your diet. Certain foods can back you up, while others can get your bowels moving fast. So, if you happen to be suffering with a bout of constipation (which is never fun), you’ll definitely want to add some poop-provoking foods into your meal plan to get things rolling again.
Pictured recipe: Low-Carb Seeded Quick Bread
Why must you poop? “Pooping is so important because our digestive health says a lot about our overall health. Our poop or lack thereof can give us a lot of clues as to what’s going on internally,” explains Maggie Michalczyk, RDN. One example we can all relate to is having diarrhea after eating something bad or not feeling well. Yet, if this is a regular occurrence, it can also be a clue that something more serious is going on in our digestive tract. And, keep this in mind: pooping one to three times a day is considered normal, she says (fewer than three bowel movements per week is considered constipation).
Related: Natural Food Remedies for Constipation
No one wants to be constipated. “My first suggestion there would be to make sure you are drinking enough water and taking a look at sources of fiber in your diet,” she says. That fiber aspect is key. “Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb,” she says. Fiber isn’t digested by your body; instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon, and then out of your body, and it increases the weight and size of your stool (often softening it in the process, which helps it pass easier).
“Eating a wide variety of foods that contain fiber is beneficial to the digestive system and ensures everything is moving along,” Michalczyk says. Not sure what to fill up on? Here are some of the best foods to help you poop, so you can get back to feeling less bloated and more comfortable.
You know the saying about this musical fruit-well, it’s true! “Fiber is a key nutrient for maintaining a healthy digestive tract and decreasing the risk for constipation,” says Keri Gans, M.S., RD. A 1/2-cup serving of black beans has 8 grams of fiber, which will certainly help things move along in your digestive tract to relieve pent-up gas and decrease bloating.
View Recipe: Black Bean Tacos
That morning cup of oats can be your bowels’ best friend. There are 4 grams of fiber in a 1-cup serving of oatmeal. “Insoluble fiber is not broken down in our digestive tract and does not absorb water, but rather, it adds bulk to our stool, stimulating bowel regularity,” explains Gans. Plus, “oats contain a fiber called beta glucan, a powerful soluble fiber with many health benefits including reduced LDL cholesterol and reduced blood sugar and insulin response,” says Michalczyk.
Try starting your day with overnight oats, or keep handy instant packets (you can buy plain instant oatmeal or look for flavored ones that are lower in sugar) at the office to satisfy midday munchies.
View Recipe: Apple Oatmeal
Getting sick of oatmeal for breakfast? Swap it for yogurt, which is also great for your gut health and helps keep you regular. There’s no fiber in yogurt, but the probiotics are super helpful to digestion, and you can add fiber by way of fruit (try raspberries-they have 8 grams of fiber per cup) or seeds. “Yogurt is a good source of probiotics, live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you and have been associated with digestive health,” says Gans. “For many individuals, consuming probiotics daily helps to alleviate constipation and promote bowel movement,” she explains.
View Recipe: Sweet Beet-Raspberry Yogurt
Figs are an incredibly rich source of fiber. There are 4 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup of dried figs. “Easy to eat or snack on, dried figs are a good source of fiber that can add to your overall daily fiber intake,” says Michalczyk. In fact, a study showed that among 40 people with chronic constipation, eating fig paste each day reduced intestinal discomfort and improved colonic transit time. Figs also contain an enzyme known as ficain, which aids in helping you poop. Eat the tasty fruits plain, use as a summertime pizza topper, or spread some on toast with cheese like burrata or ricotta. Yum!
View Recipe: Fig & Goat Cheese Salad
Feel free to nosh on healthy sweet potato fries when you want something sweet, salty and crispy for a snack. Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber to keep your digestion moving, and they’re easy to incorporate into meals, says Michalczyk. They boast 4 grams of fiber per cup. Definitely use some sweet potatoes as a starch when you’re looking for something nutritious and slightly dessertlike.
View Recipe: Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Prunes (aka dried plums) are perhaps the best-known food remedy for constipation (thanks, Grandma) and for good reason. Prunes contain both soluble and insoluble fiber to help you poop easier and add bulk to your stool. You can eat prunes as-is or you can sip on prune juice. Five prunes or 1 cup of prune juice both deliver 3 grams of fiber. “Make a trail mix with dried prunes to reap the benefits of extra fiber,” says Michalczyk.
View Recipe: Filet Mignon with Madeira-Prune Sauce
An apple a day might not always keep the doctor away, but it certainly improves your digestion. Apples are another great source of fiber, and in this case a soluble dietary fiber known as pectin. There are 4 grams of fiber in one medium apple. “It can’t get simpler for a good source of fiber to incorporate into your diet,” says Michalcyzk. Don’t peel off that skin-that’s where a lot of the fiber is.
View Recipe: All-American Apple Pies
Chia seeds are not only high in fiber, but they’re also rich in protein to keep you full for hours. They have 10 grams of fiber per ounce, which is pretty awesome. “An excellent source of fiber, chia seeds are a small-but-mighty seed in terms of nutrition! They are also a good source of protein and potassium,” says Michalczyk. They’re an easy add-in for a high-fiber boost to smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal.
View Recipe: Berry Chia Pudding
Eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts and seeds is part of an overall healthy eating pattern and is also great for getting those bowels moving and helping you feel more comfortable. When you start adding more fiber to your diet, remember to do it gradually and drink plenty of water as you go. Moving more can also help get things going.
3-Day Meal Plan to Help You Poop
Stomach Pain After Eating
Food is a great thing! A proper diet supplies us with the nutrition and energy we need to survive. Whether you are going out to eat with friends and family, or having a quiet dinner at home, eating should be an enjoyable experience. If you frequently suffer from stomach pain after eating, getting your daily nutrients can sour into an unwanted task.
Don’t let stomach pain after eating keep you from enjoying life. FastMed has over 85 locations in North Carolina and Arizona that can provide treatment for stomach pain after eating.
Why Does My Stomach Hurt after I Eat? FastMed Can Help You Find Out
Here are some common causes of stomach pain after eating:
- Overeating – Stomach pain after eating often means you have simply eaten too much. This is your body’s way of telling you it has more food than your system can handle.
- Food Intolerance – Food intolerances commonly cause stomach pain after eating. The most common types are lactose and gluten intolerance. Lactose is primarily found in dairy products and baked goods. Gluten is protein found in certain grains and is a common ingredient in most foods
- Food Allergy – Food allergies can cause severe stomach pain, nausea, cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. If you are allergic to more than one food, you could have a hard time eating meals without having stomach pain.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition in which your colon doesn’t function properly. It often causes diarrhea or constipation and stomach pain. IBS is as common cause of stomach pain after eating because it usually affects your digestive system after every meal.
If you frequently have stomach pain after eating, or your pain is severe, stop by FastMed Urgent Care. Our walk-in clinics have on-site labs, x-rays, and a dedicated staff of medical professionals who are ready to provide you with care. At FastMed, you will be seen as quickly as possible, and no appointment is needed. You can even reduce your wait time by using our ZipPass check-in feature.
Home and natural remedies for upset stomach
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Everyone experiences an upset stomach and indigestion, or dyspepsia, from time to time after eating or drinking. The condition is usually no cause for concern, and it is often possible to treat the symptoms using home remedies.
Common symptoms of an upset stomach and indigestion include:
- heartburn, or acid reflux
- belching, sometimes bringing up bitter or foul-tasting fluid or food
- bad-smelling or sour breath
- hiccupping or coughing
This article looks at 21 of the most popular home remedies for an upset stomach and indigestion. We also explain when to see a doctor.
Twenty-one home remedies
Some of the most popular home remedies for an upset stomach and indigestion include:
1. Drinking water
Share on PinterestDehydration can increase the likelihood of an upset stomach.
The body needs water to digest and absorb nutrients from foods and beverages efficiently. Being dehydrated makes digestion more difficult and less effective, which increases the likelihood of an upset stomach.
In general, the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) recommend that:
- women should have around 2.7 liters (l), or 91 ounces (oz), of water a day
- men should have about 3.7 l, or 125 oz, of water a day
Around 20 percent of this will come from food, with the rest coming from beverages. For most people, a good figure to aim for is approximately 8 or more cups of water a day. Younger children require slightly less water than adults.
For those with digestive issues, it is imperative to stay hydrated. Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration very quickly so people with these symptoms should keep drinking water.
2. Avoiding lying down
When the body is horizontal, the acid in the stomach is more likely to travel backward and move upward, which can cause heartburn.
People with an upset stomach should avoid lying down or going to bed for at least a few hours until it passes. Someone who needs to lie down should prop up their head, neck, and upper chest with pillows, ideally at a 30-degree angle.
Ginger is a common natural remedy for an upset stomach and indigestion.
Ginger contains chemicals called gingerols and shogaols that can help speed up stomach contractions. This may move foods that are causing indigestion through the stomach more quickly.
The chemicals in ginger may also help to reduce nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
People with an upset stomach could try adding ginger to their food or drinking it as a tea. Some all-natural ginger ales may also contain enough ginger to settle an upset stomach.
Ginger tea is widely available to buy in supermarkets and online.
In addition to sweetening the breath, the menthol in mint may help with the following:
- preventing vomiting and diarrhea
- reducing muscle spasms in the intestines
- relieving pain
Researchers have found that mint is a traditional treatment for indigestion, gas, and diarrhea in Iran, Pakistan, and India.
Raw and cooked mint leaves are both suitable for consumption. Traditionally, people often boil mint leaves with cardamom to make a tea. It is also possible to powder or juice mint leaves and mix them with other teas, beverages, or foods. Mint leaves are widely available in health stores and online.
Sucking on mint candies might be another way to help reduce the pain and discomfort of heartburn.
5. Taking a warm bath or using a heating bag
Heat may relax tense muscles and ease indigestion, so taking a warm bath may help to ease the symptoms of an upset stomach. It could also be beneficial to apply a heated bag or pad to the stomach for 20 minutes or until it goes cool.
Heating bags are available to purcahse online.
6. BRAT diet
Doctors may recommend the BRAT diet to people with diarrhea.
BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. These foods are all starchy, so they can help bind foods together to make stools firmer. This may decrease the number of stools a person passes and help ease their diarrhea.
As these foods are bland, they do not contain substances that irritate the stomach, throat, or intestines. Therefore, this diet can soothe the tissue irritation resulting from the acids in vomit.
Many of the foods in the BRAT diet are also high in nutrients such as potassium and magnesium and can replace those lost through diarrhea and vomiting.
7. Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol
Smoking can irritate the throat, increasing the likelihood of an upset stomach. If the person has vomited, smoking can further irritate the tender tissue already sore from stomach acids.
As a toxin, alcohol is difficult to digest and can cause damage to the liver and stomach lining.
People with an upset stomach should avoid smoking and drinking alcohol until they are feeling better.
8. Avoiding difficult-to-digest foods
Some foods are harder to digest than others, which increases the risk of an upset stomach. Anyone with an upset stomach should avoid foods that are:
- fried or fatty
- rich or creamy
- salty or heavily preserved
9. Lime or lemon juice, baking soda, and water
Some studies suggest that mixing lime or lemon juice in water with a pinch of baking soda can help to relieve a variety of digestive complaints.
This mixture produces carbonic acid, which may help to reduce gas and indigestion. It may also improve liver secretion and intestinal mobility. The acidity and other nutrients in lime or lemon juice can help to digest and absorb fats and alcohol while neutralizing bile acids and reducing acidity in the stomach.
Most traditional recipes recommend mixing the following quantities:
- 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of fresh lemon or lime juice
- 1 teaspoon (tsp) of baking soda
- 8 oz of clean water
Share on PinterestSubstances in cinnamon may help to reduce gas and bloating.
Cinnamon contains several antioxidants that may help ease digestion and reduce the risk of irritation and damage in the digestive tract. Some of the antioxidants in cinnamon include:
Other substances in cinnamon may help to reduce gas, bloating, cramping, and belching. They may also help to neutralize stomach acidity to reduce heartburn and indigestion.
People with an upset stomach could try adding 1 tsp of good-quality cinnamon powder, or an inch of cinnamon stick, to their meals. Alternatively, they could try mixing the cinnamon with boiling water to make a tea. Doing this two or three times daily may help to relieve indigestion.
Cloves contain substances that may help to reduce gas in the stomach and increase gastric secretions. This can speed up slow digestion, which may reduce pressure and cramping. Cloves may also help to reduce nausea and vomiting.
A person with an upset stomach could try mixing 1 or 2 tsps of ground or powdered cloves with 1 tsp of honey once a day before bedtime. For nausea and heartburn, they could combine the cloves with 8 oz of boiling water instead to make a clove tea, which they should drink slowly once or twice daily.
Cumin seeds contain active ingredients that may help by:
- reducing indigestion and excess stomach acids
- decreasing gas
- reducing intestinal inflammation
- acting as an antimicrobial
A person with an upset stomach could try mixing 1 or 2 tsps of ground or powdered cumin into their meals. Alternatively, they could add a few teaspoons of cumin seeds or powder to boiling water to make a tea.
Some traditional medical systems suggest chewing a pinch or two of raw cumin seeds or powder to ease heartburn.
Cumin seeds are available to purchase online.
Figs contain substances that can act as laxatives to ease constipation and encourage healthy bowel movements. Figs also contain compounds that may help to ease indigestion.
A person with an upset stomach could try eating whole fig fruits a few times a day until their symptoms improve. Alternatively, they could try brewing 1 or 2 tsps of fig leaves to make a tea instead.
However, if people are also experiencing diarrhea, they should avoid consuming figs.
14. Aloe juice
The substances in aloe juice may provide relief by:
- reducing excess stomach acid
- encouraging healthy bowel movements and toxin removal
- improving protein digestion
- promoting the balance of digestive bacteria
- reducing inflammation
In one study, researchers found that people who drank 10 milliliters (ml) of aloe juice daily for 4 weeks found relief from the following symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD):
- flatulence and belching
- nausea and vomiting
- acid and food regurgitation
Yarrow flowers contain flavonoids, polyphenols, lactones, tannins, and resins that may help to reduce the amount of acid that the stomach produces. They do this by acting on the main digestive nerve, called the vagus nerve. A reduction in stomach acid levels can reduce the likelihood of heartburn and indigestion.
A person with an upset stomach could try eating young yarrow leaves raw in a salad or cooked in a meal. It is also possible to make yarrow tea by adding 1 or 2 tsps of dried or ground yarrow leaves or flowers to boiling water.
Share on PinterestBasil may increase appetite and improve digestion.
Basil contains substances that may reduce gas, increase appetite, relieve cramping, and improve overall digestion. Basil also contains eugenol, which may help to reduce the quantity of acid in the stomach.
Basil also contains high levels of linoleic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
A person with an upset stomach could try adding 1 or 2 tsps of dried basil leaves, or a couple of fresh basil leaves, to meals until their symptoms lessen. For more immediate results, they could mix half a teaspoon of dried basil, or a few fresh leaves, with boiled water to make a tea.
Licorice root contains substances that may help to reduce gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach lining, as well as inflammation relating to peptic ulcers.
Someone with an upset stomach could try drinking licorice root tea several times a day until their symptoms improve. Licorice root teas are widely available online, but it is also possible to make them at home by mixing 1 or 2 tsps of licorice root powder with boiling water.
Like mint, spearmint is a common remedy for many digestive complaints, including:
- stomach and intestinal spasms
- gastrointestinal infections
Most people find that the easiest way to consume spearmint is to drink prepared herbal teas in which spearmint is the primary ingredient. There are many such teas available online.
It is usually safe to drink spearmint teas several times daily until symptoms improve. Sucking on spearmint candies may also help to reduce heartburn.
Plain rice is useful for people with many types of stomach complaints. It can help by:
- adding bulk to stool
- absorbing fluids that may contain toxins
- easing pain and cramps, because of its high levels of magnesium and potassium
Someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea could try slowly eating half a cup of plain, well-cooked rice. It is best to wait until at least a few hours after the last episode of vomiting. The person may continue to do this for 24–48 hours until diarrhea stops.
Rice is also part of the BRAT diet that doctors often recommend.
20. Coconut water
Coconut water contains high levels of potassium and magnesium. These nutrients help to reduce pain, muscle spasms, and cramps.
Coconut water is also useful for rehydrating and is a better option than most sports drinks as it is also low in calories, sugar, and acidity.
Slowly sipping on up to 2 glasses of coconut water every 4–6 hours could ease upset stomach symptoms.
Bananas contain vitamin B6, potassium, and folate. These nutrients can help to ease cramps, pains, and muscle spasms. Bananas can also help by adding bulk to loose stools, which can alleviate diarrhea.
When to see a doctor
An upset stomach and indigestion should not usually cause concern. For most people, symptoms should go away within a few hours. As older adults and children can become dehydrated much more quickly, they should seek medical attention for vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for more than a day.
People with severe, frequent, or persistent stomach problems should talk to a doctor. It is also best to seek medical attention if the following symptoms are present:
- continual or uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
- chronic constipation
- bloody stool or vomit
- inability to pass gas
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- arm pain
- unintentional weight loss
- a lump in the abdomen or stomach
- difficulty swallowing
- history of iron-deficiency anemia or associated conditions
- pain when urinating
Read the article in Spanish.
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.
Here are some top picks to choose when you have cramps, along with why they work, and the best ways to enjoy them when you’re feeling under the weather.
1. Plain Rice
How to Make Perfect Sushi Rice
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!
How Peppermint Oil Can Help Ease Digestion and Improve Stress
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.
3. Sweet or White Potatoes
Source: Steamed Sweet Potatoes With Wild Rice and Basil
Both sweet and white potatoes are both excellent sources of resistant starch that will 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.
Source: Coqui the Chef/Flickr
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.
5. Non-dairy Yogurt
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 in 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 the dairy, go for soy, coconut, or almond milk yogurt that doesn’t have added sweeteners.
What to Avoid for Healthy Digestion:
Be sure you avoid foods high in fat during a time when your stomach is in pain. While fats do aid in digestion, they also take longer to digest than these foods above … not something you particularly want when your stomach isn’t up to par. Stick to mostly bland foods lower in fiber, but still whole-food based versus processed soups and crackers. Many fruits like papaya and strawberries can also be helpful, while ginger, lemon, and herbs like oregano can help fight bacteria and aid in digestion too. You can also add vegetable broth to any of these to drink hot, which will keep food moving through your system, provide the body with nutrients it needs to heal, and can also be soothing during a time of distress.
For further help, see some common FAQ in our Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for more information about plant-based eating for digestion.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
For more Vegan Food, Health, Recipe, Animal, and Life content published daily, don’t forget to subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter!
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12 Foods & Drinks That Can Trigger A Stomach Ache
Getting butterflies in the stomach from a first date or an exciting work opportunity is a good thing, but experiencing sharp pains or chronic bloating in our bellies is definitely not fun. About 70 percent of our immune system resides in our gut, so keeping our gut healthy can really enhance our wellbeing and keep stress and mood imbalances at bay.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on healing their guts and understanding their relationships to food, lifestyle habits and exercise. Discomfort on a daily basis is actually very common, and there are many types of food sensitivities and lifestyle behaviors that can attribute to poor health, fatigue, insecurities and decreased productivity. An unhappy stomach can certainly result in a less fulfilling life, as tummy troubles, pain and bloating can make us feel unlike ourselves and negatively affect our mental and physical wellbeing.
By discovering which issues may be contributing to stomach pains and choosing to eat, exercise and live in a way that promotes proper gut health, it’s possible to feel healthy and happy from morning to night. Here are 12 things that can give us a stomach ache.
1. High Fiber Foods
High fiber foods are teeming with nutrients and can keep us regular with bowel movements; however, excess fiber can result in pain and bloating. “The best way to incorporate them into your diet is to work your way in,” running coach and certified personal trainer Susie Lemmer tells Bustle. It’s also a smart idea to avoid high-fiber foods immediately before working out, as that can lead to bowel problems or stomach cramps during a workout.
2. Raw Veggies
“Raw veggies can give us digestive pains,” says Lemmer. Our bodies have a hard time breaking down the elements in raw veggies, so it might be easier to lightly cook them and avoid tummy troubles. Steaming, roasting, grilling, stir-frying, or sautéing vegetables with a bit of olive or coconut oil will ease digestion and keep the nutrients intact. Furthermore, coconut oil’s properties promote a healthy gut.
3. Eating Too Fast
Consuming food too rapidly can hinder our body’s ability to digest properly. “Think about the stomach like a muscle; you can’t go from never working out to running a marathon all at once,” says Lemmer. Flooding the stomach with too much food can cause discomfort and cause the stomach to stretch, resulting in bloating, gas and discomfort. Put the fork down every three minutes and focus on chewing and swallowing each bite.
4. Protein Bars
Protein bars can be filled with artificial sweeteners and additives. For example, “erythritol (sugar alcohol or polyol) hurts my belly,” artist and yoga instructor Tracee Badway tells Bustle. Because she loves them, she recommends eating half at a time to allow the stomach to digest the substance easier and to still enjoy the taste. You can also search the labels at grocery stores for bars that do not contain any additives or make your own granola, nut and fruit protein mix at home.
5. Chewing Gum
Studies show that chewing gum can induce gas and bloating, as gum contains artificial sweeteners and brings air into the body with each chew. The influx of air expands the stomach, leading to bloating and abdominal discomfort. Dr. Kathleen Dass, MD, an allergist-immunologist at Allergy & Asthma PC, tells Bustle, “When you chew gum, you actually swallow a lot of air, which can lead to gas. This is only worsened by the fact that a lot of chewing gum contains artificial sweeteners that are also known to cause gas. Chewing gum is also something that is high in FODMAPs.” FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are often found in artificial sweeteners, and is a possible trigger for irritable bowel syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Research shows that gluten can cause stomach aches, as it is a common food sensitivity. Eliminate gluten for three weeks, and see how you feel. Gluten products have been shown to lead to abnormal bowel movements, diarrhea, and cramping. Not all bodies can digest the substance, and it is totally normal if you are one of the sufferers. “Celiac disease is found in 1% of the population though up to 20% of the population that has it may never be diagnosed!” Dass explains. “In Celiac disease, your body launches an immune response to any gluten exposure. This will lead to diarrhea, bloating, gas, and even skin rashes or neurological issues!” Sticking with gluten free grains, such as quinoa and buckwheat, as well as asking restaurants for gluten-free menus should help.
While Greek yogurt contains probiotics to improve digestion, other dairy products can irritate the stomach and cause abdominal pain. “Dairy contains lactose, which is a sugar that’s broken down in your body into energy by an enzyme called lactase,” Dass says. “If you are lacking lactase, dairy and milk products will cause significant gas, bloating, and diarrhea.” Those lacking lactase, also known as lactose intolerant, are unable to break down lactose, which can lead to diarrhea, gas and pain, and those who are sensitive may also have trouble digesting the enzyme. There are also many cow’s milks that contain hormones, which can irritate our linings. Switch to alternative milks for healthier digestion.
8. Spicy Foods
While capsaicin found in spicy foods can rev metabolism and promote good health, it can cause diarrhea and stomach woes in many people. Dass says, “Spicy foods irritate the lining of your esophagus and stomach. This increases acid production in your stomach while simultaneously decreasing the pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter (a muscle that keeps food moving in the right direction at the end of the esophagus). For this reason, you will develop significant heartburn symptoms.” It may be a good idea to test yourself with mild spices to see how you feel. If you find yourself running to the bathroom, it might be best to avoid spicy foods and stick with fresh herbs for natural seasoning and flavor when cooking instead.
Foods that are in the nightshade family, such as artichokes, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, goji berries and peppers, can cause stomach discomfort and bowel problems. Plus, tomatoes are incredibly acidic. “Tomatoes and citrus foods also increase acid production in your stomach while simultaneously decreasing the pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter. The heartburn develops when the acid from the stomach touches the inner lining of the esophagus,” Dass says. It’s best to limit acidic and nightshade foods for optimal gut health.
10. Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated beverages can lead to stomach problems, as the bubbles can create air in our stomachs and lead to gas. Carbon dioxide can lead to bloating and pain. It’s best to stick with flat drinks, such as water and fresh juice, if you’re prone to stomach aches. Dr. Sara Gottfried, MD, a board-certified gynecologist and author, tells Bustle, “Specifically diet soda . Low-calorie sweeteners, often found in diet sodas, disrupt the delicate balance of gut microbiota. Furthermore, drinking out of a straw can let more air into our bodies, so if you are drinking a beverage, sip it from a glass, not a straw.
Experts say that high-fat foods can result in bowel problems, such as diarrhea or constipation. I don’t know which is worse! “Butter is high in saturated fat. Foods that are high in saturated fat have been known to affect our gut microbiome,” Dass tells Bustle. “Scientists think this may be one of the reasons we are seeing an increase in Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.” To counteract this, use olive oil or coconut oil when cooking, instead of butter, creams, and condiments.
Because alcohol passes through the digestive tract quickly, it can cause stomach pains, nausea and abnormal bowel movements, such as diarrhea. Alcohol is low in nutrients and can cause inflammation in our guts, leading to discomfort and bloating. “Drinking alcohol can lead to inflammation and irritation in your stomach because it can erode the lining of your stomach,” Dass explains. “This is usually seen with heavy or ongoing alcohol use. If the lining of your stomach is weaker, then you will be more susceptible to the acid your stomach naturally produces, making you more susceptible to stomach aches and even ulcers.”
Being mindful of what and how you eat can really affect your digestion and overall mental and physical wellbeing. It’s never fun to feel discomfort in your stomach, and fear of bowel woes and gas can cause major anxiety, as well. By being aware of what foods can cause gastrointestinal issues, you can put the worries to bed and go on living your life discomfort-free.
Additional reporting by Syeda Khaula Saad.
This article was originally published on April 3, 2018 and was updated on June 27, 2019.