Woman holding her stomach.Everyone experiences digestive problems like bloating, nausea, or diarrhea on occasion.

Even if you have stomach discomfort and do not feel like eating, a healthy diet is still important. Here are some foods that can nourish your body, improve your digestive health, and help your stomach feel better.

1. Bananas

Whole fruits and vegetables are always a healthy choice, but some are easier to digest than others. Bananas are not only easy on the gut, they also contain important electrolytes like potassium, as well as fiber that helps digestion and may lower blood cholesterol and glucose.

2. Ginger

There is a good reason why your mom gave you ginger ale when you were sick with a stomach ache. Research has shown that ginger can help to reduce nausea and bloating, even in pregnant women and patients receiving chemotherapy.

3. Brown rice

Most people could use more fiber in their diet, but adding too much, too quickly can irritate the digestive system. Brown rice is a great way to start raising your fiber intake. It provides some protein and essential minerals, and has a mild smell and flavor that will not aggravate nausea.

4. Papaya

This fruit, allegedly called “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus, contains a chemical called papain. Papain helps to break down the macronutrients proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and is often used as a meat tenderizer. Consuming this fruit may aid digestion.

5. Chicken

If you include meat in your diet, lean protein like chicken is one of the better choices for your stomach and digestive health. Fattier red meats, like beef, can be more difficult to break down and may contribute to nausea and acid reflux.

6. Kimchi

Kimchi (also spelled kimchee) is made of fermented vegetables and is a common side dish in Korean meals. Because it is made with lactic acid bacteria, kimchi can be an excellent source of probiotics, much like yogurt. Research indicates that kimchi can aid digestion and colorectal health.

7. Avocado

Another source of fiber, B vitamins, potassium, and healthy fats, avocado is an excellent addition to a stomach-friendly diet. The neutral flavor can help with nausea, and its soluble fiber helps reduce constipation. Avocado’s fat content also can help slow digestion, making it a good food for people who suffer from frequent diarrhea.

8. Garlic

Garlic may not be the best choice for people with nausea or heartburn, but it can help improve digestive health as part of a regular diet. Studies show that garlic can aid the immune system and encourage good gut flora (the microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts). This bulb also adds flavor to meals without adding calories.

9. Peppermint

Peppermint has been used for centuries to alleviate gas, bloating, and stomach ache. Some research shows that peppermint oil can improve the pain of irritable bowel syndrome and relax muscles in the colon. Another study found that peppermint aromatherapy helped reduce nausea among pregnant women in labor.

10. Apple cider vinegar

Drinking apple cider vinegar mixed with water or another clear liquid may help ease an upset stomach. The antibiotic properties of apple cider vinegar also may help soothe digestion problems caused by bacteria. Avoid consuming vinegar on its own, however, as the high acidity can damage your teeth or esophagus.

Besides consuming the above foods, you can maintain good digestive health by consuming fiber with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and choose leaner proteins and healthy fats.

Experiencing stomach troubles?

Although everyone experiences digestive distress at one time or another, some symptoms may indicate more serious problems. These include:

  • Severe stomach pain or cramps
  • Vomiting with fever
  • Blood in the vomit or stool

If you experience any of these symptoms, or if your mild symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical assistance.

Dr. Lynn M. O’Connor dedicates her practice to providing the foremost treatment, technology, and information related to preventive public health issues and colon and rectal health. An outstanding surgeon and health advocate, Dr. O’Connor is also the Director of the Women’s Colorectal Care Program for ProHEALTH Care Associates in the Greater New York City area. Click HERE to contact Dr. O’Connor’s office, or to schedule an appointment.

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