Whether you're recovering from a stomach bug or hangover, sometimes you need something soothing to eat. Here are seven tummy-friendly foods for when you're feeling delicate.
See also: Could you have a wheat intolerance?
See also: Do you suffer from bloating? Here are five foods to avoid
When you have an upset stomach, eating 'binding' foods can help prevent diarrhoea. Good options include toast (made with white bread - obviously avoid if you're sensitive to gluten), apple puree, rice and bananas. These foods are all easy to digest and are low in fibre, which helps to firm your stools.
Bananas are a particularly good choice as they contain pectin, which helps to naturally firm bowel movements. The fruit also contain potassium, which is good if you've lost nutrients as a result of vomiting or diarrhoea, or have been unable to eat due to prolonged illness.
2. White rice
As well as being easy to digest, rice is one of the least allergenic foods, so it's unlikely to irritate your system, even if you're feeling fragile. The starch of the rice coats the lining of the stomach and helps to absorb fluid, meaning you're less likely to go running to the toilet.
Ginger is proven to combat nausea and improve overall digestive health. One study found that ginger was more effective at treating sea sickness than a common anti-nausea drug.
Pour boiling water over slices of fresh ginger and let it steep for several minutes, or buy ginger tea from the supermarket. You can also chew on fresh ginger, or if that's too harsh, try chewing on a piece of crystallised ginger.
4. Plain probiotic yogurt
If your stomach upset has been caused by taking a course of antibiotics, eating plain, natural yoghurt may help. As well as being soothing on a tender tummy, probiotic yoghurt will add to the healthy bacteria in your gut, and may reduce discomfort.
Just be careful if you are lactose-intolerant. While yogurt is much lower in lactose than milk, it's best avoided if you are highly sensitive to dairy.
5. Chicken soup
A bowl of chicken broth is comforting, nutritious, easy to digest - and tasty! Fresh chicken stock also contains gelatin, which lines the stomach and aids digestion, while the water content and nutrients will help to hydrate and replenish lost electrolytes.
6. Mashed potato
Mashed potato is another stomach-soothing food to put on the menu. (Just go easy on the milk and butter!) Potatoes provide essential nutrients, including electrolyte-balancing potassium and because they're mashed, the starch is even easier to digest. If you don't fancy chicken soup, try eating mash with a chicken breast.
7. Mint tea
If bloating is a problem, drinking mint tea can help to relieve gas and ease cramping. However, if you're prone to heartburn you might want to give it a miss and try chamomile tea instead. Make your own by infusing fresh mint leaves or buy it ready to go from the supermarket. Just avoid sugarless mint gum. The artificial sugars these contain can make bloating worse.
More tummy-soothing foods to try...
Papaya contains an enzyme that breaks up food. It has been traditionally used to soothe ulcers, heartburn and diarrhoea.
Oat bran is a significant source of soluble and insoluble fibre. You need both for good digestive health.
Apples are high in insoluble fibre and rich in enzymes that help rid the body of irritating food particles as well as ulcers, heartburn and diarrhoea.
Cinnamon, used traditionally to treat morning sickness and diarrhea, is also effective for breaking up gas bubbles.
Avocado is exceptionally high in potassium, fibre and stomach-friendly oils that keep things moving.
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