When you have an upset stomach, some foods may be easier to tolerate than others and can help prevent dehydration. This can include bland carbohydrates and certain spices, like ginger.

Treating an upset stomach can vary depending on the underlying cause, whether it occurs as an infection, a side effect, or for another reason. A variety of foods can settle an upset stomach and help you feel better faster.

Here are the 12 best foods for an upset stomach.

1. Ginger can relieve nausea and vomiting

Ginger, a fragrant edible root with bright yellow flesh, is a common natural remedy for nausea and vomiting (1).

People can enjoy ginger raw, cooked, steeped in hot water, or as a supplement.

It is a common natural remedy for morning sickness, a type of nausea and vomiting that can occur during pregnancy.

A 2020 review of research found ginger effective for reducing nausea and vomiting associated with both pregnancy and chemotherapy (2).

Some people use ginger as a natural remedy for motion sickness and vertigo. It may help reduce the intensity of nausea symptoms and the speed of recovery time, but more research is needed (3).

Ginger is typically safe, but heartburn, stomach pain, and diarrhea can occur at doses above 4 grams per day (4).

2. Chamomile may reduce vomiting and soothe intestinal discomfort

Chamomile, an herbal plant with small white flowers, is a traditional remedy for upset stomachs. People can brew dried chamomile into a tea or take it orally as a supplement.

Traditionally, people have used chamomile to treat various intestinal troubles, including gas, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (5).

However, only a limited number of studies support its effectiveness for digestive complaints.

A review of research notes that ginger may have antidiarrheal effects and reduce spasms in the digestive tract (6).

Chamomile is also commonly used in herbal supplements that relieve indigestion, gas, bloating, and diarrhea, as well as colic in babies (7).

But since chamomile is one of many other herbs in these formulas, it’s difficult to know whether the beneficial effects are from chamomile or from a combination of the other herbs.

Although the gut-soothing effects of chamomile are widely recognized, research has not yet shown how it helps to relieve stomach upset.

3. Peppermint may relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, can cause stomach upset. IBS is a chronic gut disorder that can cause stomach pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

While IBS can be difficult to manage, studies show that peppermint may help reduce these uncomfortable symptoms.

Taking peppermint oil capsules daily for at least two weeks can significantly reduce stomach pain, gas, and diarrhea in adults with IBS (8, 9).

Researchers believe that peppermint oil works by relaxing muscles in the digestive tract, reducing the severity of intestinal spasms that can cause pain and diarrhea (10).

While the research is promising, additional studies must determine whether peppermint leaf or peppermint tea has the same therapeutic effects.

Peppermint is safe for most people but may cause side effects in some people, including heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain, and dry mouth (11).

4. Licorice can reduce indigestion and may help prevent stomach ulcers

Licorice is a popular remedy for indigestion and may also prevent painful stomach ulcers.

Traditionally, people consumed licorice root whole. Today, it is available as a supplement called deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL).

DGL no longer contains glycyrrhizin, a naturally occurring chemical in licorice that can cause fluid imbalances, high blood pressure, and low potassium levels when consumed in large quantities (12).

Animal and test-tube studies show that DGL soothes stomach pain and discomfort by decreasing inflammation of the stomach lining and increasing mucus production to protect the tissues from stomach acid (12).

This may be especially helpful for people experiencing an upset stomach caused by excessive stomach acid or acid reflux.

DGL supplements may also help relieve stomach pain and indigestion from stomach ulcers caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria known as H. pylori.

Research suggests that DGL supplements can eliminate H. pylori overgrowth, reducing symptoms and even promoting the healing of stomach ulcers (13).

Licorice is a soothing herb for the intestinal tract and can help reduce inflammation and infections that may contribute to an upset stomach (14).

5. Flaxseed relieves constipation and stomach pain

Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is a small, fibrous seed that can help regulate bowel movements and relieve constipation and abdominal pain.

Chronic constipation is fewer than three bowel movements per week. It can accompany abdominal pain and discomfort (15).

Flaxseed, either as ground flaxseed meal or flaxseed oil, may relieve uncomfortable symptoms of constipation (16, 17).

In one 2018 study, adults with constipation took 10 g of flaxseed twice a day for 12 weeks. This approved their symptoms of constipation and stool consistency (18).

6. Papaya can improve digestion and may be effective for ulcers and parasites

Papaya, also known as pawpaw, is a sweet, orange-fleshed tropical fruit that some use as a natural remedy for indigestion.

Papaya contains papain, a powerful enzyme that breaks down proteins in the food you eat, making them easier to digest and absorb (19).

Some people do not produce enough natural enzymes to fully digest their food, so consuming additional enzymes, like papain, may help relieve their symptoms of indigestion (20).

There has not been a lot of research on the benefits of papain, but at least one older study found that regularly taking papaya concentrate reduced constipation and bloating in adults (21).

Papaya is also common in some West African countries as a traditional remedy for stomach ulcers. A limited number of animal studies support these claims, but more human research is needed (22, 23).

7. Green bananas help relieve diarrhea

An upset stomach from an infection or food poisoning often occurs with diarrhea.

Interestingly, several studies have found that giving cooked, green bananas to children with diarrhea can help reduce the amount, severity, and duration of episodes (24).

The powerful antidiarrheal effects of green bananas are due to a special type of fiber they contain, known as resistant starch.

Humans cannot digest resistant starch, so it continues through the digestive tract to the colon, the final portion of the intestines.

Once in the colon, gut bacteria ferment the starch to produce short-chain fatty acids, stimulating the bowels to absorb more water and firm up the stools (25).

More studies are necessary to see if green bananas have the same antidiarrheal effects in adults.

Since resistant starches are converted to sugars as a banana ripens, it’s unclear whether ripe bananas contain enough resistant starch to have the same effects (26).

8. Pectin supplements can prevent diarrhea and dysbiosis

When a stomach bug or foodborne illness causes diarrhea, pectin supplements can help speed up recovery.

Pectin is a type of plant fiber present in high quantities in apples and citrus fruits. It is available in foods or as a supplement.

Humans cannot digest pectin, so it stays within the intestinal tract where it’s very effective at firming stools and preventing diarrhea (27).

One study in people with IBS with diarrhea determined that pectin functions as a prebiotic and may promote the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract (28).

Sometimes, people develop uncomfortable symptoms of gas, bloating, or abdominal pain due to an imbalance of bacteria in their intestines.

This can happen for various reasons but is especially common after gut infections, after taking antibiotics, or during periods of high stress (29, 30).

Pectin supplements may help rebalance the gut and reduce these symptoms by increasing the growth of good bacteria and reducing the growth of harmful ones (28).

While pectin supplements appear effective at relieving diarrhea and promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria, it’s unknown whether natural foods rich in pectin would have the same benefits.

9. Low-FODMAP foods may reduce gas, bloating, and diarrhea

Some people have trouble digesting carbohydrates known as FODMAPs: Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.

Undigested FODMAPs enter the colon, where gut bacteria ferment them, creating excessive gas and bloating. They also attract water, which can contribute to diarrhea (29).

Many people with digestive troubles, especially those with IBS, find that avoiding foods with high levels of FODMAPs can help relieve their gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

A review of 10 randomized controlled studies found that low-FODMAP diets relieved these symptoms in 50–80% of people with IBS (30).

While not all people with digestive issues have trouble digesting FODMAPs, working with a nutritionist may help you determine whether any of them are causing problems for you.

10. Probiotic-rich foods can regulate bowel movements

Sometimes an upset stomach can result from dysbiosis, an imbalance in the type or number of bacteria in your gut.

Eating foods rich in probiotics, the bacteria that are good for your gut, may help correct this imbalance and reduce symptoms of gas, bloating, or irregular bowel movements (31).

Probiotic-containing foods that benefit gut health include (31):

  • Yogurt: Several studies have shown that eating yogurt containing live, active bacterial cultures can relieve both constipation and diarrhea.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk can help alleviate antibiotic-associated diarrhea and may also help relieve constipation.
  • Kefir: Drinking 2 cups (500 ml) of kefir per day for one month can help people with chronic constipation experience more regular bowel movements.

Other foods that contain probiotics include miso, natto, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha, but more research is needed to determine how they affect gut health (31).

11. Bland carbohydrates may be more tolerable

Bland carbohydrates like rice, oatmeal, crackers, and toast may help people with upset stomachs.

These foods may be easier to digest and keep down when you’re not feeling well (32).

While bland carbohydrates may be more palatable during an illness, it’s important to expand your diet as soon as possible. Restricting your diet too much may keep you from getting enough of the vitamins and minerals your body needs (33).

12. Clear liquids with electrolytes can prevent dehydration

When vomiting or diarrhea accompanies an upset stomach, it’s easy to become dehydrated.

Vomiting and diarrhea cause your body to lose electrolytes, the minerals that maintain your body’s fluid balance and keep your nervous system functioning correctly.

A person can often treat mild dehydration and electrolyte losses by drinking clear liquids and eating foods that naturally contain electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium.

Water, fruit juice, coconut water, sports drinks, broths, and saltine crackers can help restore fluid loss and electrolyte imbalances associated with mild dehydration (34).

In some cases, drinking a rehydration solution containing an ideal ratio of water, sugars, and electrolytes may be necessary. For severe dehydration, doctors may recommend intravenous (IV) fluids (35).

If you have an upset stomach, you may want to avoid foods that are harder to digest. This can include (32):

  • fried food
  • spicy food
  • seeds and nuts
  • acidic fruits, including citrus fruits
  • whole gains
  • whole-fat dairy products
  • non-lean meat
  • high fiber vegetables, such as cabbage and cauliflower
  • alcohol
  • caffeine

What can I eat when my stomach hurts?

Depending on the cause of your stomach pain, you may want to eat bland foods that are easily digested to prevent nausea and diarrhea, like toast and plain rice. Other foods like ginger and chamomile may also help relieve an upset stomach.

What helps a stomach ache fast?

Many people use ginger as a remedy for upset stomach and nausea. Other options can include chamomile and peppermint.

What can I eat with an upset stomach and nausea?

If you have an upset stomach, you can try eating bland carbohydrates, like the BRAT diet. This involves eating bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast — or other bland carbohydrates that are easy to digest, like plain crackers and broth.

Is yogurt good for an upset stomach?

Foods with probiotics like yogurt may help with diarrhea and constipation and support your digestive system. But eating rich foods like dairy while you have an upset stomach may not relieve nausea.

You may want to opt for bland foods instead.

The bottom line 

Many foods can help relieve an upset stomach.

Herbs and spices like ginger, peppermint, and licorice have natural stomach-soothing properties, while fruits like papaya and green bananas can improve digestion.

Avoiding high-FODMAP foods helps some people eliminate gas, bloating, and diarrhea, while probiotic foods like yogurt and kefir can help regulate bowel movements.

When vomiting or diarrhea accompanies an upset stomach, be sure to hydrate and replenish electrolytes. You may also find bland carbohydrates easier to keep down.

While it’s common to experience an upset stomach from time to time, these foods can help support your recovery.