Food And Lifestyle Tips To Help

Manage Indigestion At Home

It’s all too familiar. You’ve just enjoyed a lovely meal with your family or some friends, and then you start to get that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach. Soon, you’re not feeling too well, and your lovely meal doesn’t seem quite so lovely any more!

For many people, this is how indigestion interferes with everyday life. So what can they do about it?

Here, we take a look at some commonly suggested home remedies for indigestion that might be worth giving a shot. These have been widely studied and shown to be beneficial for indigestion. Keep in mind though, that they might not work for everyone.

 

Living With Indigestion

If you live with some of the symptoms of indigestion – things like stomach discomfort, bloating and feeling over-full – you’re not alone.

Millions of people around the world share your predicament. In fact, a survey in Brazil showed that around 20% of people have indigestion symptoms at least once a month,1 and in other countries it’s estimated to affect up to 40% of the population.2

While there is no simple cure for indigestion, there are some things you can try that might help you get some relief.

Herbal remedies for indigestion

Herbal remedies have been used successfully for thousands of years. Now, modern science is backing up this ancient wisdom, with growing evidence that some herbs, especially fennel, papaya, caraway and ajwain, may help in the treatment of indigestion.6–9

If you do intend to try herbal remedies, and especially if you are taking any other medicines, please remember to consult your doctor. Some herbal remedies and medicines may interact, and it is best to get expert advice to avoid potential complications.

Fennel

Fennel6

Who knew that something so tasty could also be so good for you! With its distinctive aniseed flavour, fennel is used in all sorts of recipes – its leaves can be eaten raw in salads, or baked, grilled, stewed or boiled, and its fruit, seeds and roots can also be eaten.

Scientists have discovered many compounds in fennel that are known to have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic effects. This may explain why it’s been used for hundreds of years to treat digestive complaints in many different countries around the world.

As well as being a delicious food, fennel can reportedly be taken daily as a herbal supplement, which is usually based on the seeds or a distilled oil.

Sliced and full papayas

Papaya7

Sometimes called ‘the fruit of the angels’, papaya (or pawpaw) is a popular tropical fruit that originated in Mexico.

Papaya has a long history of use as a natural remedy for digestive problems such as constipation, heartburn and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and a recent clinical study showed that papaya can improve these symptoms in some people.

Even though it’s delicious, you may not want to eat papaya every day! If this is the case, many different supplements are available.

Cumin in a bowl

Caraway8

The main part of the caraway plant we eat is the seeds – although, even though they’re usually called seeds, they are actually the dried fruit of the caraway plant.

Caraway seeds are highly aromatic, so they tend to be used as a spice in many different dishes. But they’ve also been used for centuries in traditional medicines to relieve mild digestive disorders.

It is thought that the antispasmodic effects of caraway help ‘calm’ the digestive system and relieve indigestion. Caraway may also help reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach, reducing acidity problems.

A number of different supplements containing caraway are available, including some that also include peppermint oil.

Ajwain in a bowl

Ajwain9

Originating in India, the seeds of the ajwain plant are used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a range of gastrointestinal disorders, including ulcers. Sometimes called carom, ajwain has been shown to have a number of effects on the gastrointestinal tract that could improve symptoms of indigestion.

In most cases, the seeds of the plant are used to make ajwain supplements. The seeds are either turned into a powder or distilled to make an essential oil. 

The role of diet and lifestyle

In most cases, indigestion symptoms appear soon after eating.2,3 Some of the triggers include overeating or eating too quickly, eating fatty, greasy or spicy foods, or having too much caffeine, alcohol or fizzy drinks.3

It stands to reason then, that making some changes to your diet and lifestyle are simple things you can do at home or work to get relief from indigestion. Do keep in mind though, that while these are again suggestions based on studies, they might not always work and it is best to seek expert advice.

Studies and surveys on many different foods used as home remedies for stomach aches have shown the following ones work best.4,5

Foods that may help digestion4,5

Rice in a spatula

Rice

Shiny red Apple

Apple

Rock candies

Rock Candy

Sliced loaf of bread

Bread

Ripe dates

Dates

Jar of honey

Honey

Bowl of yoghurt  with toppings

Yoghurt

Two quinces

Quince

Walnuts

Walnut

Is rice especially nice for indigestion?

A review of studies looking at the effects of rice in patients with indigestion and other gastrointestinal complaints found that it was especially beneficial.5 Rice is easy to digest and it’s unlikely to cause any allergic reactions.5

Some other simple ways to relieve those symptoms

Manage stress and anxiety

Eat smaller, more-frequent meals10

Because eating a big meal or eating quickly is a common trigger for indigestion, it’s a good idea to try eating four or five smaller meals a day instead of three large ones.

Get yourself some healthy snacks

Avoid fatty foods11

Studies have shown that fatty meals are more likely to cause symptoms of indigestion, such as fullness, bloating and nausea. Reducing your intake of fatty foods is recommended to improve indigestion.

Get some exercise

Maintain a healthy weight2,10

If you’re overweight, losing some weight can help reduce the symptoms of indigestion. Your doctor may be able to offer some advice on the most effective ways to reduce your weight.

Reach For ENO

Exercise regularly3

As well as helping you maintain a healthy weight and being good for your mental health, exercise actually benefits the digestive process. You don’t have to start running marathons – just getting a little exercise every day can make a difference.

Treatments like antacids can also help

Acidity can play a role in indigestion. There is an overlap between many of the causes and triggers of acidity and indigestion.2,12,13 One of the defining symptoms of acidity problems is heartburn, which is a burning sensation in the centre of the chest.2,12 Heartburn can also be a symptom of indigestion.2,12

You can learn more about the relationship between acidity and indigestion here – especially if you have symptoms such as heartburn or acid reflux.

If you think acidity contributes to your symptoms, take Eno. Eno gets to work in just 6 seconds14, and rapidly neutralizes stomach acid, thereby relieving you from the pain.

You should see your doctor if your symptoms worry you. Your doctor may prescribe other medications or do some tests.

Where to find out more

We know how much indigestion can disrupt your everyday life. However, with easy-to-access foods and simple diet and lifestyle changes, managing it may be simpler than you think. Do keep in mind though, that while these tips are known to work based on studies, they don’t always guarantee relief. Please consult your doctor if you have persistent or particularly severe symptoms, or if there’s anything you’re not sure about.

We’ve also put together some great home remedies for acidity problems. Take a look here  to find out more.

Disclaimer: While the remedies listed in this article have been widely studied to be beneficial for indigestion, they are not intended to be, and should not be treated as a substitute for any form of professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek your doctor’s advice for questions regarding medical conditions.

  • References

    1. De Oliveira Latorre MRD, da Silva AM, Chinzon D et al. Epidemiology of upper gastrointestinal symptoms in Brazil (EpiGastro): a population-based study according to sex and age group. World Journal of Gastroenterology 2014; 20 (46):17388–17398.
    2. Dyspepsia and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: investigation and management of dyspepsia, symptoms suggestive of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or both. Clinical Guideline, September 2014. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (UK).
    3. Mayo Clinic. Indigestion. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/indigestion/symptoms-causes/syc-20352211
    4. Akhondi-Meybodi M, Aghaei MA, Hashemian Z. The role of diet in the management of non-ulcer dyspepsia. Mid East J Digestive Dis 2015; 7 (1): 19–24.
    5. Gonlachanvit S. Are rice and spicy diet good for functional gastrointestinal disorders? J Neurogastroenterol Motil 2010; 16: 131–138.
    6. Badgujar SB, Patel VV, Bandivdekar AH. Foeniculum vulgare Mill: a review of its botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology, contemporary application and toxicology. BioMed Res Int 2014; Article ID 842674.
    7. Muss C, Mosgoeller W, Endler T. Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders. Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2013; 34 (1): 38–46.
    8. Johri JK. Cuminum cyminum and carum carvi: an update. Pharmacognosy Rev 2011; 5(9): 63–72.
    9. Boskabady MH, Alitaneh S, Alavinezhad A. Carum copticum L: a herbal medicine with various pharmacological effects. BioMed Res Internat 2014; 2014: 569087.
    10. Sandhu DS, Fass R. Current trends in the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gut and Liver 2018; 12 (1): 7–16.
    11. Khodarahmi M, Azadbakht L. Dietary fat intake and functional dyspepsia. Adv Biomed Res 2016; 5: 76–79.
    12. Choung RS, Locke GR, Schleck CD et al. Overlap of dyspepsia and gastroesophageal reflux in the general population: one disease or distinct entities? Neurogasterenterol Motility 2012; 24 (3): 229–e106.
    13. Vakli N, Wernersson B, Wissmar J, Dent J. Sleep disturbance due to heartburn and regurgitation is common in patients with functional dyspepsia. United European Gastroenerology Journal 2016; 4 (2): 191–198.
    14. A Comparison of the Effect of Regular ENO and Placebo on Intragastric pH inHealthy Fasted Subjects . Does not imply relief.