Dyspepsia, more commonly known as indigestion, is a feeling of discomfort or fullness in the stomach. Dyspepsia has many causes, including reflux, gall bladder disease and gastritis. People with dyspepsia often complain of pressure in the upper abdomen, having a sensation of burning, bloating and nausea after eating.
Does diet help to manage dyspepsia?
There is limited research on how diet affects dyspepsia. However, it is recommended to keep a food and symptom diary if you experience dyspepsia. This allows your dietitian to draw conclusions between the symptoms and eating patterns.
Some useful management strategies include:
- Consumer smaller portions more often through the day.
- Slow down while eating meals. Apply the principle of mindful eating, which involves chewing slowly and focusing on the food. Keeping away from distractions, such as your phone, may help with focusing completely on your food and controlling portion size.
- Stay away from takeout, especially foods that are high in fat and sugar.
- Eat plenty of fruit. Australian dietary guidelines recommend eating at least two pieces of fruit a day. Fruit contains high levels of fibre, which helps with regular bowel movements and promotes gut health. For example, kiwi fruit is helpful for bulking the stool and acts as a natural laxative.
- Drink tea to reduce stomach pain. Tea contains a compound called theophylline which competes with receptors associated with pain in the abdomen and chest.
- Avoid irritants such as greasy food, spices, coffee, alcohol and cigarettes.
- Try natural therapies. For example, Iberogast is a herbal medicine that can provide quick relief, and peppermint oil has been found quite effective in the case of dyspepsia.
Low FODMAP diet for Dyspepsia
The low FODMAP diet is a well studied official therapeutic diet for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Due to the overlap of symptoms between IBS and dyspepsia, the low FODMAP diet may potentially be beneficial for those who experience dyspepsia. FODMAP stands for the short chain carbohydrates, which are not properly absorbed and get fermented by bacteria in the intestines. It is important to discuss a FODMAP diet with a dietitian before commencing and provide them with a food and symptom diary, as it is important to differentiate between IBS and dyspepsia.
Emotional stress may exacerbate dyspepsia, as your mental state can affect your gut health. Hence, having stress-relieving activities on a daily basis is very important. These may include physical activity, yoga or meditation. For other options, we recommend you discuss stress management with your general practitioner.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian and nutritionist Juhi Bhambhaney. If you have any questions regarding health and nutrition, make an appointment with one of our dietitians. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.