Six Suggestions for Soothing an Upset Stomach

As I mentioned before, I have suffered from many allergies and chronic inflammation MY…ENTIRE…LIFE. As a result, sometimes I can experience lots of moments of embarrassing and uncomfortable indigestion. You know the kind where you’re sitting at your laptop and you have to tighten your abs—not because you’re pretending to be Vin Diesel—but because you want to prevent your stomach from making a horrible gurgling sound. Okay, maybe it’s just me 😊. Stress, diet, and side effects from medication can also cause an upset stomach. One of the first things I like to do is practice an elimination diet. Too much sugar or gluten are common culprits for me. Maybe I’ll try a yoga asana like a standing forward bend or seated spinal twist to stimulate those digestive juices. You can learn more about what yoga poses help with indigestion here. There are wonderful time-tested natural solutions such as fennel seeds, ginger, dill, and turmeric that are effective with mild indigestion (BTW: please see a physician if this is a chronic condition). But there are some remedies that I return to again and again. Here are a few of them:

Basil

I grew up eating dried basil. I never knew the wonderful aroma and taste of freaking fresh basil until I was an adult. And child!

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It makes such a difference when it comes to flavoring your favorite meals. Basil is loaded with calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. This plant is an antioxidant but it is also antifungal and antibacterial. In addition, some studies have shown that it is anti-dyspepsia. That means basil contains compounds that work to alleviate indigestion. I like to put fresh basil on pretty much anything like quinoa, sandwiches, and pasta.

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Miso

If you have any kind of gastrointestinal issues, I highly recommend fermented foods like sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso. Miso is made from soybean bean paste fermented with yeast, mold, and bacteria and then it’s combined with salt and water (Note: miso can also be made from rice, barley, and chickpeas). It can be aged from one month to three years. Younger misos are lighter colored than the older ones. Miso contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B2, vitamin E, choline, lecithin, and vitamin B12 . The real magic happens during the fermentation process. Soy contains carbohydrates that are difficult to break down for digestion. But the fermentation process degrades complex carbohydrates and proteins to make soy much easier to digest. When I have an upset stomach that won’t quit, I love to have a cup of miso soup. Just a scoop of my favorite miso with some warm water and I’m good to go!

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Chamomile

Chamomile is probably one of the best herbs for nervous tension and anxiety. As a child of West Indian parents, peppermint was a huge staple in my household. So I didn’t discover chamomile until I was a teenager. I honestly don’t remember why I decided to try it but I’m so glad I did. If you are a chamomile fan, you know that it provides serenity and calm in this chaotic world and sometimes we all need that. Numerous studies have shown that chamomile is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antispasmodic.  This antioxidant herb has also been used to treat sluggish digestion, diarrhea, and nausea. Recently, I found this yummy tea with plum overtones that has chamomile as a primary ingredient along other herbs such as licorice and gotu kola.

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Thyme

Growing up, I remember my father putting handfuls of fresh thyme in dishes like rice and peas. That oregano-type taste was always comforting and warming to the tongue. It wasn’t my mind playing tricks on me. In fact, carvacrol and thymol, two major components of thyme, create that warming sensation. Also, these constituents work to ease flatulence and soothe the digestive system. What’s more, thyme is antimicrobial and antifungal. It is great for relieving congestion associated with colds because it stimulates the lungs and expels mucus. If my stomach has been flip-flopping during the day, I will sprinkle dried thyme on my evening meal.

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Millet

Millet is high in protein and dietary fiber, and it contains essential amino acids such as methionine and cysteine. This antifungal grain is rich in phytochemicals like phytic acid that lower cholesterol. But millet is also a prebiotic that stimulates the growth of bacteria that is beneficial to the colon. And it is gluten-free, which is helpful for those of us who suffer from certain digestive disorders or chronic indigestion. I really love this veggie burger that is made with millet (and I’ve tried countless ones over the years!). I almost always have a veggie burger for lunch with a chopped salad of broccoli, tomato, and avocado. It is simple, comforting, and of course, delicious.

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Limes

My husband recently turned me on to limes. I’m usually more of a lemon kind of gal. He started putting slices of limes in his glass of water and I was intrigued. Limes are high in vitamin C and fiber, and low in cholesterol. We all know that citrus fruits like limes are good sources of flavonoids that may protect the body against cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Some studies suggest that citrus flavonoids aid in the digestion process.

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Those are my stomach soothers—what works for you?

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Five Foods to Sharpen Your Focus

Usually, I’m a pretty detail-oriented person. Maybe that’s part of being an introvert. But there are days when every little thing in the world distracts me and my brain is like a freaking hamster on a wheel that fell off the spikes. You know how it goes: you want to finish an assignment by a certain time but then the mind minutia rolls in. Did I pack everything for my son’s lunch? Did I put away that thing before I left the house this morning? Do I have time to do that thing in the evening?

What I’ve found is that it is helpful to give myself little ten-minute breaks throughout the day. Then I’m able to refocus and follow through on my main priorities. The other thing is just to appreciate small things in nature. It sounds corny as hell but sometimes just staring at a succulent plant or listening to a bird chirp for a couple of seconds can provide newfound energy for anything that you need to do. Most importantly, don’t forget to hydrate yourself with water throughout the day (believe me, I have to remind myself too :)). Dehydration has been linked to poor mental performance. Here are some other things that helped me to firm up my focus:

Rosemary

I love the smell of rosemary. During the Thanksgiving season, I love to put huge amounts of fresh rosemary on my stuffing. But I usually settle for dried rosemary during the rest of the year. Some studies suggest that rosemary is a powerful antioxidant and antidepressant. In addition, some research indicates that the aroma of this herb may enhance alertness and cognitive function. I like to toss some rosemary on a bowl of potatoes when things start getting a little tense during the afternoon or evening.

Cashews

Cashews, like many nuts, are rich in the antioxidant vitamin E. Cashews are also a great source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that serves as a precursor to the production of that feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Diets that have a significant level of antioxidants and tryptophan may have a positive impact on mood and cognition. My husband and I love to snack on cashews. They are creamy and buttery delicious. Also, we enjoy Miyoko’s Creamery cheeses*, which are made primarily from cashews. For those of you who are newly vegan, I implore you to please, please try her products because some vegan cheeses can be scary and just…meh. These cheeses are the truth. When I first tried Miyoko’s, I got really scared because I thought I ate dairy. It’s that good, ladies and gentlemen.

 

Lentils

Lentils are one of the best plant-sourced proteins that you can get. These legumes also contain magnesium, which along with folic acid and vitamin B12 helps increase the level of the amino acid tyrosine in the brain. Tyrosine is eventually converted to the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which promotes mental energy and alertness. Lentils are a staple on my weekly dinner menu. Why? Because they are hella-easy to prepare. Red lentils do not require any soaking at all and take thirty minutes in the rice cooker if I’m in a hurry. But other times, I will pick up prepared lentils from the supermarket and use them for tacos.

 

 

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are chock full of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) the precursor to omega-3 fatty acid. ALA is converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). You can read more about it here. DHA is essential for brain plasticity, maintenance of learning and memory, and neurological development. Some studies indicate that low levels of DHA may be linked to cognitive decline in older adults. So we want to consume as many healthy fats like this one (BTW: walnuts and flaxseeds are wonderful sources too). My all-time number one breakfast is chia pudding because it is so simple to make. I mix in things like oats, pumpkin seeds, pineapple—you name it, if I want it, then it’s all up in there! On days when I really need that extra boost of energy, I will throw in a little protein powder like this one.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli was one of the few vegetables that I liked eating as a kid. I remember my mother would buy the frozen rectangular packs from the supermarket for our side dishes during the week. You know the ones where the broccoli is drenched in cheddar cheese sauce because that was the only way that my brother and I would eat it. It took many years for me to really learn how to prepare and appreciate this wonderful vegetable. Broccoli is high in vitamin C, an antioxidant and free radical scavenger that promotes brain function. Despite my scary introduction to this vegetable, I am blessed to say that I am now mature enough to enjoy broccoli without a darn thing added to it.

Those are just some of the foods I enjoy for boosting my mental energy. What are some foods that you enjoy?

*Please note the opinions are my own. I was not paid to plug Miyoko’s cheeses.