Soothe your tummy
Upset stomach? Whether it’s nausea, vomiting, or just a general icky feeling due to a stomach bug or something you ate, you want to feel better—now.
Sadly, your doctor may say that the best treatment is to just wait until the germ or symptoms run their course. However, choosing the right food may make that waiting period a bit easier.
Here’s a guide to what the experts generally recommend to soothe tummy trouble.
Bananas are the first item in the “brat” diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast), which has been used by generations to soothe bellies.
Bananas contain potassium, which you may need if you’re dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhea, says Robynne Chutkan, MD, assistant professor in the division of gastroenterology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC.
They also contain sugar so you get calories at a time when you’re probably not eating much. But they’re not so sweet it will make you nauseous, she adds.
Rice, along with other starchy foods such as potatoes and oats, helps coat the lining of the stomach, easing digestion and having an overall soothing effect, says Dr. Chutkan.
Starchy foods also don’t sit in the stomach for long periods of time, nor do they stimulate acid reflux, which would make you feel even worse, says Amit Bhan, MD, service chief of gastroenterology at Henry Ford Health System, in West Bloomfield, Mich.
Applesauce is generally calming for the stomach because it’s easily digested, relieves diarrhea, and provides calories. Apples themselves contain pectin (especially in the skin), which can provide roughage if you’re constipated.
“If the cause of distress is constipation, then an apple can help,” says Dr. Chutkan. “When someone is having diarrhea, you want the applesauce.”
The fourth and final component of the brat diet is just as bland as the first three items.
Toast won’t cause acid reflux, so you’ll feel better. It also doesn’t sit in the stomach like a high-fat meal, which would make you feel increasingly uncomfortable.
But leave off the butter and jam until you’re feeling better.
Broth, in particular, is great for an upset stomach.
Both the liquid and a high salt content can keep you hydrated. “Salt, when it’s in the bloodstream, helps draw fluid in,” says Dr. Chutkan. Of course, if you have high blood pressure, look for low-salt varieties so you’ll still get the liquid benefit.
“Soup or broth, if not cooked in fat, is very easily digested. It’s well-tolerated and you don’t get nauseous or have reflux,” says Dr. Bhan.