Is Oatmeal Good for Upset Stomach? Uncovering Soothing Foods for Digestive Woes

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When an upset stomach strikes, the quest for a soothing remedy brings many to ask, “Is oatmeal good for upset stomach?” The answer lies in oatmeal’s solace-providing soluble fiber, which may ease digestive discomfort. In this article, we’ll delve into why oatmeal could be your gut’s gentle friend, examine the best types of oatmeal for relief, and pair it with other comforting foods. Furthermore, we’ll touch on potential drawbacks, helping you make an informed choice about this staple grain’s role in managing digestive woes.

Key Takeaways

  • Oatmeal is beneficial for soothing an upset stomach due to its content of soluble fiber, which can regulate bowel movements and is particularly easy to digest when in the form of quick-cooking oats.

  • Pairing oatmeal with bananas, unsweetened applesauce, and ginger can amplify digestive relief due to their respective soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, while avoiding additives that may irritate the stomach.

  • While quick oats can alleviate stomach upset, excessive fiber intake can cause bloating and constipation, and those with gluten sensitivities should opt for certified gluten-free oats to prevent adverse reactions.

Oatmeal: A Stomach Soother?

Bowl of cooked oatmeal with sliced bananas and a sprinkle of cinnamon

If you’ve been plagued by stomach upsets, you’ve probably been recommended a range of certain foods. But there’s one food that stands out among them all – oatmeal. Why? Well, this whole grain is rich in soluble fiber, a dietary component known for promoting digestive health. But what renders soluble fiber so beneficial, and does your oatmeal choice matter? Let’s explore.

Soluble Fiber Benefits

Soluble fiber plays a key role in promoting digestive health. It attracts water and forms a gel-like substance in your digestive tract, which can slow down digestion and regulate bowel movements. This, in turn, can provide relief for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease experiencing diarrhea.

Oats are a rich source of this beneficial dietary component with just a half-cup of uncooked, old-fashioned oats containing about 4 grams of fiber!

Types of Oatmeal

When selecting oatmeal, bear in mind that not all variants are of equal benefit. Quick-cooking oats, for instance, are rolled thinner and steamed longer, making them easy to digest and recommended for an upset stomach, especially when eating oatmeal as a soothing meal.

Plain, bland oatmeal is best for easing an upset stomach as it is easy to digest and provides soothing soluble fiber without causing irritation. Even though steel-cut oats and rolled oats maintain most of their nutrients, instant oats, which are more processed, often contain added sweeteners or flavors that may not be ideal for upset stomachs.

Foods to Pair with Oatmeal for Stomach Relief

Fresh ginger root and ground ginger powder on a wooden cutting board

Though oatmeal alone can alleviate stomach pain, its effect can be amplified when paired with certain foods to help with stomach ache. Consider pairing your bowl of oats with bananas, applesauce, or even a sprinkle of ginger. These foods not only add a burst of flavor but also bring their own stomach-soothing properties to the table.

Bananas

Integrating bananas into your oatmeal can be beneficial when grappling with an upset stomach. They are easy to digest and provide carbohydrates and energy without overburdening the digestive system. They also contain high levels of potassium, an essential mineral that can get depleted during conditions like diarrhea or vomiting.

What’s more, bananas add a natural sweetness to your oatmeal, making it more palatable and soothing. And if you’re experiencing nausea, consuming bananas in small bites can prevent exacerbating stomach issues and facilitate easier digestion.

Applesauce

Applesauce makes for another excellent companion to oatmeal. It’s a part of the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast), renowned for its digestive support qualities. The benefits of applesauce include:

  • Its mild and non-acidic nature makes it less likely to irritate the stomach

  • It offers dietary fiber that aids in regulating digestion

  • It is gentle on the stomach

Opt for unsweetened applesauce to add flavor and texture to your oatmeal without contributing excessive sugar.

Ginger

Ginger can impart a gentle zest to your oatmeal while boosting its stomach-relieving qualities. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger can help reduce nausea and vomiting.

A comforting meal of ginger, bananas, and oats can be particularly beneficial for those with upset stomachs. However, remember to use ginger sparingly to prevent potential irritation.

Potential Drawbacks of Oatmeal for Upset Stomachs

Oatmeal’s high fiber content can be a double-edged sword. While it offers numerous benefits for easing stomach upsets, it can lead to bloating and gas, especially in individuals not accustomed to consuming a lot of fiber. Moreover, the fiber in oatmeal can cause slower digestion that results in constipation if sufficient fluids are not consumed alongside it.

Let’s examine these potential disadvantages more closely.

Overconsumption of Fiber

While fiber is beneficial for digestion, excessive consumption can lead to discomfort like bloating, gas, and abdominal pain, particularly in individuals who are not used to consuming large amounts of fiber. Excessive fiber intake can also reduce the absorption of essential minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium, potentially leading to nutritional deficiencies over time. Hence, it’s important to slowly integrate soluble fiber into your diet to circumvent these problems.

Gluten Sensitivity

For those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, oatmeal can pose a potential issue. Even though oats are naturally gluten-free, they may be contaminated with gluten during processing. To avoid this risk, opt for certified gluten-free oats that meet the required safety standards.

Moreover, some individuals may react to a protein in oats known as avenins, which can induce symptoms similar to those caused by gluten. If you have gluten-related disorders, it’s best to introduce oatmeal into your diet cautiously and under the guidance of a medical professional.

Other Soothing Foods for Digestive Discomfort

Plain crackers and a bowl of cooked white rice on a wooden table

While oatmeal is a reliable option for an upset stomach, numerous other foods can also offer comfort. The BRAT diet, probiotic-rich foods, and bland foods can also help soothe your digestive discomfort.

Let’s scrutinize these alternatives further.

BRAT Diet

BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. These foods are known for being easy to digest and gentle on the gastrointestinal tract. However, the BRAT diet is not suitable for long-term adoption and is typically used as a temporary measure for digestive issues.

These foods, including oatmeal, are bland and easy to digest, making them beneficial for managing diarrhea and upset stomachs.

Probiotic-rich Foods

Probiotic-rich foods can play a crucial role in balancing your gut microbiome and alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. Some examples of probiotic-rich foods include:

  • Kefir

  • Yogurt

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Pickles

These foods are loaded with probiotics that can facilitate digestion and support digestive health.

While kombucha is popular for its potential probiotic benefits, more research is needed to confirm these.

Bland Foods

Bland foods such as toast, crackers, and cooked vegetables can be gentle on the stomach and easy to digest. These foods can help absorb excess stomach acid and provide relief for an upset stomach. A bland diet includes low-fat or fat-free dairy products, cooked, canned, or frozen vegetables, and fruits like bananas and melons that are gentle on the stomach.

Even smooth options like creamy peanut butter, pudding, and custard can be part of a bland diet that is less likely to irritate the stomach lining. Lean proteins like:

  • chicken

  • whitefish

  • tofu

  • eggs

Green beans are also recommended on a bland diet for their easy digestibility and mild impact on the stomach.

Foods to Avoid When Experiencing an Upset Stomach

Spices and hot chili peppers on a black background

While some foods can pacify an upset stomach, others might worsen your symptoms. When dealing with digestive issues, it’s best to avoid fatty and greasy foods, spicy foods, and dairy products. But why are these foods problematic? Let’s investigate each of these categories.

Fatty and Greasy Foods

Consuming fatty foods, particularly those that are greasy, can slow down the process of stomach emptying, resulting in uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, nausea, and stomach pain. The high levels of fat present in greasy foods can cause tummy troubles like stomach pain, cramping, and diarrhea, especially for those with existing digestive issues like IBS.

A diet rich in processed foods can even lead to long-term digestive health problems by damaging the gut microbiome.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods, a category that includes spicy food, can cause gastrointestinal discomfort due to capsaicin, a component found in chili peppers. Even though the burning sensation from capsaicin is temporary, it can still cause discomfort.

To prevent diarrhea from spicy foods, it’s best to recognize and avoid specific trigger foods.

Dairy Products

Dairy products can worsen symptoms of an upset stomach in individuals who are sensitive to lactose. The high fat content in certain dairy products can delay the process of gastric emptying, potentially worsening the symptoms of an upset stomach.

Furthermore, in some individuals, dairy products might contribute to acid reflux by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle tasked with preventing stomach contents from moving backwards.

Tips for Preventing and Managing Upset Stomachs

Regulating an upset stomach necessitates a holistic approach, encompassing moderate food consumption, a balanced diet, and effective stress management.

Let’s elaborate on each of these aspects.

Hydration

Maintaining hydration is key to healthy digestion. Water helps break down food for nutrient absorption and forms solid stool in the large intestine. It also aids the digestion of soluble fiber found in oatmeal. Men and women are advised to consume 3.7 and 2.7 liters of fluids respectively each day to maintain adequate hydration. Clear fluids like diluted apple juice can also help prevent dehydration.

When experiencing diarrhea, it’s important to:

  • Prevent dehydration with sufficient fluid intake

  • Start with a small serving of oatmeal and gradually increase the portion size

  • Ensure adequate water intake

These steps can help minimize digestive issues.

Balanced Diet

Inclusion of diverse healthy foods in a balanced diet, such as making sure to eat vegetables, can ward off digestive issues and foster optimal gut health. Fermented soy products like natto and tempeh, certain cheeses, and drinking water before meals can all contribute to a well-rounded, nutrient-rich diet.

However, poor dietary choices can lead to digestive issues and interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients effectively.

Stress Management

Effectively managing stress can substantially influence your digestive health. Here are some strategies to help mitigate stress-related digestive issues like IBS and acid reflux:

  • Regular physical activity

  • Mindfulness

  • Lifestyle adjustments

  • Deep breathing exercises

These practices can trigger a relaxation response, helping alleviate stress and anxiety.

Similarly, mindfulness and meditation practices have been shown to help with stress, thereby potentially improving digestive well-being.

Summary

To sum up, when dealing with an upset stomach, turning to foods like oatmeal, bananas, applesauce, and ginger can provide much-needed relief. However, it’s important to be mindful of potential drawbacks such as overconsumption of fiber and gluten sensitivity. Other soothing foods include those from the BRAT diet, probiotic-rich foods, and bland foods. It’s also crucial to avoid fatty and greasy foods, spicy foods, and dairy products when experiencing an upset stomach. Hydration, a balanced diet, and stress management are all key to preventing and managing upset stomachs. Remember, every person is different, so it’s essential to listen to your body and consult your healthcare provider when necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does oatmeal make my stomach feel good?

Oatmeal makes your stomach feel good because it is a prebiotic food that supports the growth of good bacteria in your gut, helps to keep you full for longer, and contributes to regular bowel movements, promoting a healthy gut and reducing the risk of disease and inflammation.

What quickly settles an upset stomach?

To quickly settle an upset stomach, try eating bland carbohydrates like the BRAT diet, which includes bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. This can help ease digestion and soothe your stomach.

Can I eat bananas with oatmeal when my stomach is upset?

Yes, eating bananas with oatmeal can be beneficial for an upset stomach due to their gentle digestive properties and potassium content.

What foods should I avoid when my stomach is upset?

Avoid fatty and greasy foods, spicy foods, and dairy products when your stomach is upset, as they can worsen symptoms.

Author

  • Jessica McCoy

    Jessica McCoy is a seasoned food blogger with 14+ years of experience in the industry. As a self-taught home cook, she enjoys creating and finetuning easy recipes that are fool proof and simple for anyone to make. Her expertise is in all things kitchen: cooking tips, air fryer recipes, Instant Pot and other pressure cooking recipes, and slow cooker recipes. Jessica was the previous owner of AllSheCooks, where she focused on easy every day recipes including budget friendly dinner recipes and desserts.

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