You know the feeling. It can be a slight queasiness or dull gnawing. You may have a nagging burn. However it feels, it doesn’t feel good. And you can’t figure out if eating would make it better--or worse.
A sour-feeling stomach can have many causes, says Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, author of The Bloated Belly Whisperer. Some people (*raises hand*) are simply more prone to occasional nausea and indigestion. But there are a few common triggers:
- Alcohol: Alcohol irritates the GI tract. The more you drink, and the longer alcohol has contact with your GI tract, the worse you’ll feel--especially the next day.
- An empty stomach: When you go a long time between eating, your stomach secretes acid and the ph lowers, creating a more acidic environment. That can lead to nausea or reflux.
- Eating too much: When your stomach is full of food, the sphincter between your stomach and your esophagus is more prone to relax and open, allowing contents to splash up.
- Problem foods: Tomatoes, garlic, onion, mint, and high-fat foods can all cause that sphincter to relax and open (especially if some of these foods are eaten in the same meal--think: a large Italian dinner!). Not everyone will have an issue with these foods, but they’re worth considering.
Foods That Can Soothe
Here are some foods that can naturally ease a sour stomach, according to Freuman.
Ginger: It’s been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy, and there’s actually good data showing that ginger can offer relief from nausea. Freuman recommends ginger chews, ginger tea, or real ginger ale (check labels!) to her patients.
Peppermint: It can help ease bloating after a meal (and has been studied for other kinds of belly pain), so consider sipping a mug of peppermint tea for a calmer post-meal belly. But steer clear if you have reflux, since mint can be a trigger.
Milk: Though it’s not technically alkaline, milk is closer to neutral pH than many foods and drinks. It can coat your stomach and help quiet it down. The calcium found in milk is also an acid buffer.
Licorice: The real deal (made with licorice root) contains a compound that causes stomach cells to produce more mucus, which serves as a protective coating for the stomach. Try chewing licorice (check labels to make sure it’s real licorice!) or drinking licorice tea. Keep in mind that licorice is not recommended for pregnant women or people with high blood pressure.
Baking Soda: Because it’s alkaline, it can help increase the pH of the stomach. Mix a quarter teaspoon of baking soda with a cup of water and drink it down for DIY “plop-plop, fizz-fizz” relief.
When To Get Help
If you have any vomiting along with your sour stomach, experience unintentional weight loss, or are popping antacids all day to soothe your stomach, seek help from your doctor, advises Freuman.