What Causes an Upset Stomach?
An upset stomach can be caused by a number of different factors. It could be the result of illness (such as the flu), digestive-related conditions (such as Celiac or Crohn’s disease, IBS, or even acid reflux), medications, though one of the most common reasons you might develop an upset stomach is due to the food you eat – or, alternatively, by not eating enough. In addition to taking a look at some of the aforementioned digestive conditions, medications, and just how they can affect your stomach, this article will also give you information on the importance of a healthy diet and which foods you should avoid versus eat more of in order to help prevent getting an upset stomach in the first place.
As mentioned, Celiac and Crohn’s disease are two common conditions that can have a significant impact on the stomach. Celiac disease is when your body has an immune reaction to gluten, which is commonly found in wheat, barley and rye. Foods that contain gluten include things like pasta, breads and crackers – and if you’re someone with Celiac disease then these are foods you should avoid. The good news is that, nowadays, there are many alternatives for individuals who cannot consume gluten, and many grocery stores now even have their very own special gluten-free aisles. Crohn’s disease, which causes inflammation of the digestive tract, can lead to some rather uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and even malnutrition. Unlike Celiac disease, there is no solid evidence to suggest that the foods you eat cause this condition. However, certain foods can certainly exacerbate the symptoms that you may already be experiencing during a flare-up. If you have Crohn’s disease then it is recommended that you limit your intake of dairy products and fibre, as well as try consuming foods that are lower in fat (avoiding things like butter, margarine, and cream-based sauces as well as foods that are fried.) Some individuals with Crohn’s disease also find eating raw fruits and vegetables to be a bit bothersome. If this is the case for you, you can try steaming or baking them instead.
Whether taking an over-the-counter medication or one that has been prescribed to you, many of these can be hard on the stomach. Among the most common medications to contribute an upset stomach are NSAIDs – also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. While these drugs can certainly help reduce pain and inflammation, overuse of NSAIDs can also affect your health in a negative way – and they have been connected to things like stomach ulcers, stomach bleeds, intestinal ruptures, as well as irritation to the stomach lining and intestines. For those reasons, NSAIDs are generally not recommended for long-term use. Antibiotics are also known to upset the stomach. When you’re taking an antibiotic, you’re killing off harmful bacteria to rid your body of infection. However, the downside to antibiotics is that they also kill off the bacteria that lives in your intestine and works to balance your digestive health. This is why doctors and pharmacists will often recommend you take your antibiotic with some food. Sometimes even drinking a glass of milk can help coat the stomach and decrease the risk of getting an upset stomach.
Sometimes we find we’re in too much of a rush to sit down and have breakfast or skip other meals like lunch and dinner. However, going without food can also lead to gastritis and an excess in stomach acid, which could lead to the eroding of your intestinal lining and ultimately contribute to stomach ulcers. For those reasons, it’s important that you don’t skip meals – or, at the very least, make sure you have a healthy snack to get you through the day.
If you’re someone who simply has a sensitive stomach, below is a list of some easy-to-digest foods:
- Saltine crackers
- Sweet potatoes
Foods that are known to cause digestive problems and should be avoided include the following:
- Acidic foods (such as citrus fruits and tomatoes)
- Spicy foods (such as peppers)
- Fatty foods (such as red meats, ice cream and butter)
- Fried foods (such as French fries and onion rings)