The other night I was getting some sharp tummy pains, along with strange grumbling and mumbling sounds. I needed something to help settle things down and wondered if any food could sooth my discomfort? However, I didn’t have a clue about the best foods for bad stomachs, and jumped online to do some research.
With my ever increasing abdominal pain, and swollen belly ready to burst, I needed to find a solution quick. Frantically opening website, after website they were all suggesting either American-based products or super exotic ingredients I didn’t have to hand. So I dedicate this article to all those who’ve faced a similar situation and didn’t want to turn to medication.
Bland foods such as toast are an effective way to elevate a poorly tum. Toast doesn’t contain ingredients that may further irritate your stomach, and its dryness may help soak up excess acid and liquid which cause such an aliment. As most mothers know, nibbling on small amounts of toast (little and often) is great for diarrhea, but will also help ease other varieties of stomach cramps. Just make sure not to add butter, margarine or a cheeky bit of jam.
Rice, bananas and crackers also help stomach ache, and work in much the same way as toast. All will help settle your bad tummy, but if symptoms persist for more than 24hrs, my advice would be visit your GP. It’s usually a bad combination of other food you’ve eaten that day, that causes the problem in the first place, and toast will help neutralize this explosive concoction. You can also take a few paracetamol or Ibuprofen for the pain, but I’d avoid taking constipation, or antidiarrheic medication, until you know the cause.
How long does an upset stomach last?
This really depend on the cause of the upset. The most common form of a stomach complaint is viral gastroenteritis, and can be contacted through dirty tea towels, dishcloths and kitchen utensils. Yet, more likely through something you’ve eaten or drank recently. There are two nasty viruses that cause gastroenteritis;
Rotavirus. This is the world’s most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in children, who are usually infected when they put their fingers or other items contaminated with the virus in their mouths. Infants and young children are the most infected. Although adults infected with rotavirus have no symptoms, they can still spread the disease – particularly alarming in institutions, as infected adults can unwittingly pass the virus on to others. In some countries, including the United States, a vaccine against viral gastroenteritis is available that appears to be effective in preventing infection.
Noroviruses. Both children and adults are affected by noroviruses, the world’s leading cause of food-borne diseases. Norovirus infection can spread across families and communities. It is likely to spread among people in confined spaces. In most cases, you ingest the virus from contaminated food or water, although human-to-human transmission is also possible.
These usually only last a day or so, for healthy adults, but the elderly and especially young children can be severely effected. Toast just will not cut it for people in these age brackets, and they should seek medical advice. Calling the 24 hour NHS 111 phone helpline will provide medical advice, book an appointment if required and most of all a little peace of mind.
Food to avoid with a bad stomach?
The number one food group to avoid whilst having a dodgy tummy is dairy! You may feel tempted to reach for a cold glass of milk, or comforting bowl of ice cream, but that would be a huge mistake. Because of the chemical makeup of dairy products, of which I don’t pretend to understand, the body finds it very difficult to break down and digests. This would put even more strain on your already delicate stomach. However, plain natural yogurt could be fine, and no, it has nothing to do with friendly bacteria, it’s just easier on your body, digestion wise.
Another thing I’d suggest avoiding is alcohol. Not necessarily a food group, even if us Brits treat it as one, alcohol is a natural diarrhetic, and could further aggravate your symptoms. Yes, it may seem crazy to avoid a glass of wine, or refreshing pint for 24hrs or more, but sticking to water and the occasional cup of tea, (no milk) will speed up your recovery. You’ll thank me later!
What else cures a sick stomach?
Gas, indigestion or perhaps gastritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach lining, could cause your abdominal pain. Overeating may cause your dicky tummy, or it may be a reaction to alcohol, caffeine, or even medication. Nutritional restriction, such as restricting yourself to only water and toast, should relieve your symptoms, most of the time.
However, there are some mild off-the-shelf product that may also help. Antacids work great for me, they are neutralizing agents, and I usually take them to relieve the symptoms of heartburn, but can help ease gassy abdominal pain . The active ingredient pepto-bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) helps coat your esophagus, acting as a barrier to acid reflux, and can relieve the pain and symptoms of a bad stomachs. Pepto-Bismol is also fantastic for forms of indigestion, heartburn, indigestion, nausea and diarrhea. Just don’t give it to kids, who may have the flu and put them at risk of Reye syndrome.
We all get stomach upsets, from time to time, whether through bugs or over indulgence, just batten down the hatches, keep calm and try and relax. Sticking to toast and water is the best advice I can give you. You could also try taking your mind off the pain with some chores, maybe take a few painkillers and take solace in the thought of feeling better soon. Just promise me, if your symptoms persist, seek a professional’s advice, and monitor your temperature, any elevation could be a sign of something more serious.