To relieve some symptoms of intestinal discomfort, switch up your food choices to adopt the best diet for gastric problems. By avoiding certain "trigger" foods and consuming meals more slowly, you'll set the stage for positive results.
Digestive Process Snapshot
Think of your digestive system, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract, as a roughly 30-foot transport tube through your body. Every bite of food, and every sip of liquid, travels through a network of organs that each perform a specific digestive system function.
Along the way, digestive enzymes and juices chemically break down the food and liquid. Your GI tract siphons valuable nutrients to your bloodstream before sending waste products to your rectum for elimination.
To begin the digestive process, food becomes mixed with enzymes in your mouth and then travels through the tube-like esophagus to the stomach. Inside the stomach, digestive juices begin dissolving the food into a form of energy, while keeping the stomach contents from spilling over into other organs.
Next, the semi-dissolved food arrives in the small intestine, where the process slows down so your body can absorb valuable nutrients. Finally, the remaining contents travel to the large intestine (or colon), where they're transformed into feces ready for elimination.
Sometimes, one (or more) of your digestive system components functions incorrectly, often causing a medical problem that calls for professional diagnosis and treatment. Stomach disorders include gastritis (stomach lining inflammation), peptic ulcers (stomach lining sores) and stomach cancer.
Small intestine diseases include celiac disease (an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten consumption), Crohn's disease (an inflammatory bowel disease) and small intestine cancer. Large intestine diseases include diverticulosis (bulging colon pouches) and diverticulitis (inflamed or infected colon pouches).
Juices for Gastric Relief
If you're affected by heartburn, vomiting, ulcers or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a bland diet may provide some symptom relief. Include certain fruit and vegetable juices as part of your best diet for GI problems. If you're coping with GERD symptoms, tomato and citrus juices could cause you distress.
Maybe you're troubled by abdominal and intestinal pain that often results from stomach lining inflammation. This discomfort can be accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and fatigue. During the first day or two, you need to follow a clear liquid diet.
When you can tolerate fluids without abdominal distress, add diluted apple, cherry, cranberry and grape juices to the menu. Consult with your doctor if you're experiencing abdominal pain for an extended period of time for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Read more: How to Relieve Bloating Naturally
Beware of Certain Foods
Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center states that you can experience uncomfortable bloating, belching and/or flatulence after consuming gas-producing foods. In the vegetables and legumes category, the culprits include cabbage, onions, peppers and soy products. Overconsumption of certain fruit juices and fruits might also lead to discomfort. If that's the case, eat fewer servings of avocado, cantaloupe, raisins and pear juice.
If you're lactose intolerant, consuming dairy products can open a Pandora's box of undesirable side effects. Simply put, your body doesn't have enough of the lactase enzyme that helps you to digest lactose, the sugar in many dairy products.
If you consume dairy-based foods, you'll likely experience bloating, gas, stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea. Offenders include milk, ice cream and sherbet, yogurt and some cheese varieties.
Foods with a high fat content, such as fried foods and fatty meats, can also trigger gastric problems. Although bran and other high-fiber foods provide nutritional benefits, introducing fiber too quickly can create intestinal discomfort.
Also beware of sugar-free gums and candies — many contain artificial sweeteners such as mannitol and sorbitol, which often produce unpleasant gassy effects.
Read more: Home Remedies for Smelly Flatulence
Recovering From 'Leaky Gut' Symptoms
Your small intestine lining functions like a dam holding back a deluge. When it's intact and working correctly, it keeps an assortment of toxins and bacteria from migrating into your bloodstream.
Some people suffer from "leaky gut," the result of a small intestinal lining that's compromised. This malfunction can spur inflammation and fluctuations in your normal gut bacteria, potentially leading to digestive tract issues. Leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability, factors into gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and celiac disease.
To enable your small intestine lining to repair itself, your physician may recommend that you stop eating foods that trigger inflammation and those that upset your gut bacteria. Harvard Health Publishing notes that these culprits can include processed foods, foods to which you have an allergy or sensitivity, and alcohol.
To pinpoint these offenders, maintain a food diary to record everything you eat along with details on digestive symptoms that occur afterward. Armed with that knowledge, your physician can develop a treatment plan that includes your best diet for GI problems.
Read more: Healing Foods for Stomach Inflammation
Strategy for Healing Gastritis
Gastritis is a term that describes several conditions that cause an inflamed stomach lining. Gastritis can be caused by a bacterial infection, consistent use of specific pain relief medications or excessive alcohol consumption.
Acute gastritis pops up suddenly, while chronic gastritis develops gradually. Your physician will develop a treatment option that targets the cause of your gastritis, and includes a recommended list of foods for gastric problems.
You may get some relief by consuming smaller meals more frequently. According to the Mayo Clinic, this should help reduce uncomfortable stomach acid effects. Banish fried, spicy, fatty and high-acid foods from your best diet for GI problems. Stay away from alcohol, and ask your physician to recommend a pain reliever that's less likely to trigger stomach distress.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus: "Bland Diet"
- University of Wisconsin-Madison: University Health Services: "Upset Stomach"
- Ohio State University: Wexner Medical Center: "Prevent Gas With Your Diet"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gastritis: Treatment"
- Medical University of South Carolina: Digestive Disease Center: “Overview: Digestive Organs”
- Rush University Medical Center: “Gastroenterology: Conditions We Treat”
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Putting a Stop to Leaky Gut"