Smart Ways to Soothe an Upset Stomach

picture of girl not feeling wellAs we surge through the holidays eating at all different times and enjoying everything from lavish buffets to sitdown dinners, our stomachs do not always hang in there.

Right after eating, or an hour or so later, you may feel bloated and uncomfortable. Or you may have a burning sensation, feel queasy or even throw up. If there are no known medical causes your doctor might say it is “dyspepsia” or “bad digestion.”

Doctors from health.harvard.edu say indigestion is real. The medical term for persistent upper abdominal pain or discomfort without an identifiable medical cause is functional dyspepsia. Symptoms can come and go at any time, but eating is often the trigger.

If you suffer from functional dyspepsia, you’re not alone. Roughly 25 percent of men and women are affected. The cause is uncertain and there is no surefire cure, according to the doctors.

Good Preventive Measures

• Avoid foods that set off your symptoms.
• Eat small portions and don’t overeat. Try eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, and always chew food thoroughly.
• Eat slowly wherever you are. If you are having a festive large meal with friends, make as many healthy choices as you can and eat slowly savoring each bite. If you are eating alone, try not to park yourself in front of a screen mindlessly scooping up food.
• Avoid activities that lead to swallowing excess air, such as smoking, gobbling food, chewing gum, and drinking carbonated beverages.
• Work on stress with relaxation routines, cognitive behavioral therapy, or exercise. Aerobics three to five times a week can help. Never exercise immediately after eating.
• Get sufficient sleep and keep regular hours as much as possible.
• Don’t lie down within two hours after eating. That can be tricky if you love late night suppers, but do your best to adjust times.
• Keep your weight under control.

Simple Ways to Feel Better

WebMD.com and nutrition expert Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, Columbia University, suggest some natural ways to ease stomach upsets.

• Apple fiber helps move upsetting foods though the digestive track. Apple skin also supplies polyphenols, plant nutrients that help protect the inside lining of the stomach which can become damaged from NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory drugs) and pathogenic bacteria such as H. Pylori, a major contributor to ulcers.

• Ginger helps treat stomach upset and nausea. Everyone from pregnant women to inexperienced sailors rely on ginger capsules to speed up the time for stomach’s sour contents to exit the digestive tract.

• Papaya enzymes are also available in a chewable supplement for the occasional upset tummy. Besides helping proteins digest, papaya has long been known for its anti-inflammatory work.

• Peppermint slows the movement of the stomach muscles and/or spasms, which contribute to nausea or vomiting. Peppermint fresh herb powder, oil, tea or candy may help. But if you suffer from chronic heartburn you may be better off without it since peppermint can lower pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, which keeps the contents of your stomach in the stomach.

Warning: See your doctor promptly if stomach problems persist or increase in intensity.

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