Most everyone has?felt queasy at some time, whether it was testing for?a college entrance exam, dressing for a first date, or navigating a new parking lot. But nausea takes that unpleasant sensation?one step further. In fact,?Stephen B. Hanauer, MD, medical director of the digestive health center at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago,?describes it as the awful?symptom?we feel when we need to vomit — and the outcome is predictable. "You throw up," Dr.?Hanauer says.
Nausea?can also indicate a serious emergency, especially if it’s chronic or?accompanied by symptoms like?chest?pain, severe abdominal cramping, fainting, or confusion. "Call 911 if you faint?from nausea?or vomiting, and go to the ER if you?aren't able to?keep food down,"?Hanauer advises. It's important to find out the cause of your discomfort. "Medications, opioids, inflammation?of the stomach and intestine, and?brain disorders can cause it," he says.
For milder symptoms, such as nausea due to morning sickness, eating low-fat foods that are easy on the stomach?or drinking?ginger ale may help?to?ward off cold sweats, a?sour stomach, and dizziness. Here are some foods that may help.
9 Foods That Help Relieve Nausea
A little fiber goes a long way toward clearing nausea-inducing chemicals out of your system, but too much at one time can make you feel even worse. "Fiber slows down digestion, so it's possible that the slowing of the intestinal transit may help ease digestion and relieve nausea," says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat for Dummies. "But Palinski-Wade cautions that fiber may also do the opposite and trigger an increase in nausea. "I wouldn't recommend high fiber foods as a cure for nausea in all circumstances," she says. Throughout the day, snack sparingly on such fiber-rich foods as a whole apple (Gala apples are a good choice) and crunchy raw vegetables. Try applesauce or apple juice if you're having trouble digesting solid food.
Foods high in starch — such as saltines, bread, and toast — help absorb gastric acid and settle a queasy stomach. "The bland nature of a cracker helps to satisfy hunger (excessive hunger can exasperate nausea) without the strong smells or tastes that may increase nausea," says Palinski-Wade. "Starchy foods may also help to absorb stomach acids and settle your stomach." She adds that you should eat slowly whenever you feel nauseated, as it's smart not to overtax an already upset stomach. It's also a good idea to keep a handful of crackers on your nightstand; eating a few before you get out of bed may help ease nausea in the morning.
Capsules of powdered ginger have been found to reduce nausea and vomiting. You could also try a cup of ginger tea, a glass of ginger ale (some people swear it works better if it's flat), a few gingersnap cookies, or a piece of ginger candy. "Ginger has been found to reduce symptoms of nausea, especially in pregnancy," says Palinski-Wade. Pickled ginger, the kind that usually comes with sushi, may also help. "For symptoms of nausea, foods that are easy on the stomach, usually low-fat foods or ginger ale, can be helpful," says Hanauer.
Small sips from a glass of plain water will help you stay hydrated — and avoid the headaches that often accompany nausea. Start out by slowly drinking tiny amounts until you feel you can stomach a larger amount. "Drinking fluids prevents hydration, but drinking too much at one time can make nausea worse," says Palinski-Wade. "Small sips of fluid throughout the day will promote hydration without increasing nausea."
A lack of protein can make nausea feel even worse, so look to protein-packed foods, such as nuts — even peanut butter, as long as you're not allergic — that are easy to digest. They'll quickly replenish your depleted energy and help keep your nausea at bay. "Nausea from excessive hunger, low blood sugar, or pregnancy may respond well to the protein and fat in nuts," says Palinski-Wade. But she cautions that if you're fighting off a virus, nuts and protein may worsen nausea. "Typically a low-fat, lower protein meal plan rich that's in starchy foods is the best solution when you're struggling with nausea," she says. "Since protein and fat digests slowly, they may increase nausea [when consumed] in large amounts."
Chicken soup may make you feel better when you have a cold, but it's too heavy when you're nauseated. "Fats, which delay emptying of the stomach, should be avoided," says Hanauer. Instead, try soothing your symptoms with chicken broth — the lower in fat, the better. Broth made from bouillon cubes may be your best bet because it's easy to prepare and less likely to spoil. Palinski-Wade adds that a beverage containing sodium, such as a broth, may also help to promote hydration — which is important when you may be dehydrated from vomiting.
Most sports drinks contain the electrolytes sodium and potassium, which help restore an athlete's depleted nutrients. "Small sips of electrolyte-rich beverages are appropriate to promote hydration and replenish electrolytes lost during vomiting," says Palinski-Wade. While you may not be up for sports, sports drinks can help even nonathletes feel better when they're suffering from nausea.
If your nausea is accompanied by dehydration, or if you have been vomiting, snack on a piece of this peel-and-eat fruit. Bananas can help restore potassium, which is often depleted as a result of diarrhea and vomiting. "Potassium is an electrolyte that's lost during vomiting or bouts of diarrhea," says Palinski-Wade. "Bananas are also starchy and binding, which may help to reduce diarrhea." Doctors also recommend starting on "bland" foods, like bananas, when you're ready to eat solids again.
Sprig of Mint
The refreshing aroma alone may be enough to make you feel better, but actually chewing on fresh mint or drinking a cup of mint tea is considered an effective remedy for nausea. "Deep breathing and other relaxation techniques may also be helpful," says Hanauer.