How to Count Carbs with Diabetes

In the United States, 30.3 million people have diabetes, and a further 84.1 million have prediabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Diabetes is an incurable yet manageable medical condition in which the body struggles to regulate blood sugar. This happens when the body cannot produce enough insulin, or when insulin does not work correctly.

Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas makes to help the body process glucose, which is the simplest form of sugar. The cells use glucose to create energy. When the cells cannot take in glucose, it remains in the bloodstream, which can lead to severe health problems.

People who have diabetes must be careful about the foods they eat. Consuming an excess of certain foods might lead to persistent high blood sugar. This can lead to severe complications, such as nerve damage, vision and hearing loss, and cardiovascular disease.

In this article, we explore carb counting as a technique to help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates are complex sugars. Many people with diabetes need to count the number of carbohydrates in each serving of food to control their blood sugar levels. People refer to this as carb counting.

Carb counting involves more than resisting a chocolate or ice cream craving, as some seemingly healthful fruits and vegetables might also contain a high carbohydrate content that contributes to blood sugar spikes.

How carb counting works

carb counting

The first step in carb counting is identifying which foods contain carbohydrates and how rapidly these carbohydrates will boost blood sugar levels.

People can use a system called the Glycemic Index (GI) to calculate this. Every food has a GI ranking, with higher scores demonstrating a food’s rapid effect on blood sugar.

Having diabetes often means that people struggle to regulate their blood sugar levels. So, it is also a good idea for people with diabetes to focus on their diet. Consuming low-GI foods can lead to a slower, more controllable increase in blood glucose levels.

Doctors and dietitians will help people with diabetes work out how many carbohydrates they should consume each day and suggest meal plans to help them maintain a healthful, nutritional balance.

Previously, doctors and dietitians suggested a typical range of carbohydrates that was a fit-all solution for everyone with diabetes.

Now, doctors and nutritionists work with individuals on a one-to-one basis to calculate the ideal daily caloric intake and carbohydrate percentages and servings each person needs.

These amounts will vary according to a range of factors, including the person’s weight, height, activity levels, and whether they are taking medications.

Aims of carb counting

Carb counting alone is not a substitute for managing diabetes using medical care and prescribed medications.

The goal of carb counting is to keep blood sugar levels steady for the following reasons:

  • maintaining overall health in those with diabetes
  • preventing the complications of excessively high or low blood sugar
  • improving energy levels

Getting started with carb counting

Carb counting may help many people with diabetes to maintain steady blood sugar levels. However, it is only one way to manage diabetes.

Before trying carb counting, people should always speak with a nutritionist, diabetes educator, or doctor to determine:

  • whether carb counting is appropriate
  • the recommended daily allowance for carbohydrates
  • which foods they recommend

Different people will require different amounts of carbohydrates depending on the type and severity of diabetes they have.

Speak to your doctor about the ideal calorie and carbohydrate intake.

Calculating carbs

When a person has to calculate how many carbs they can consume each day, it is vital to know which foods contain carbohydrates, how many they contain, and their caloric and GI value.

In general, 1 gram (g) of carbohydrate provides around 4 calories. This can help a person calculate how many calories a particular snack or meal is providing.

There is no single number of carbs that is safe for every person with diabetes. Doctors shape the target based on individual needs and disease progression.

It is essential for those with diabetes to understand the content of food nutrition labels. Some describe nutrient serving per half portion, so it is necessary to be sure of exactly how many carbs a meal provides.

When reading nutritional labels, take note of the total number of carbohydrates per serving and add these totals into the total daily carbohydrate allowance.

For example, there are approximately 15 g of carbohydrate in each serving of the following foods:

  • a slice of bread
  • one-third of a cup of pasta or rice
  • a small apple
  • one tablespoon of jelly
  • a half-cup of starchy vegetables, such as mashed potatoes.

However, non-starchy vegetables contain only 5 g of carbohydrate per serving. This means that a person with diabetes can safely eat three times more non-starchy vegetables than starchy vegetables.

Carb counting tips

serving cups

Carb counting may be challenging at first because it forces people to think about meals differently, and people might take a while to get used to it.

Some tips can help make carb counting a little easier, such as:

  • Counting mixed foods by the cup: On average, a fist is the size of a 1-cup serving. For a mixed dish, this is an effective way to judge the carb totals based on cup size.
  • Count tablespoons: It is helpful to know the number of carbohydrates in a tablespoon of food. People can count level tablespoons to create a healthful plate.
  • Count carbs in pizza using the crust: If possible, choose a thin-crust pizza. This will save 5–10 g of carbohydrate per serving size when compared to a slice of regular or pan pizza.
  • Smoothies may not always be the best bet: On average, a 12-ounce (oz.) smoothie might contain more carbohydrates than a regular soda if it contains juice. Drink smoothies in moderation.

Here is our recommended book: The Complete Guide to Carb Counting by the American Diabetes Association

Click here to check the price in Amazon

5 Foods You Should Always Have in Your Fridge

5 Foods You Should Always Have in Your Fridge

One secret to preparing healthy meals is having the right ingredients on hand. Here are five basics our dietitians believe no fridge should be without:

1. Eggs

“Eggs really are the perfect food — especially local eggs that come from chickens you know,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD.

Conveniently packaged, eggs are rich in nutrients, low in calories and packed with high-quality protein.

“In moderation, eggs are an affordable, easy protein source for breakfast (in veggie omelets), snacks, salads and dinner (in stir-fries),” says Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDE.

Although you can eat unlimited egg whites, egg yolks are high in cholesterol.

“If you have, or are at risk for, heart disease, limit yourself to two to four egg yolks per week, depending on your risk factors,” advises Julia Zumpano, RD, LD.

“For general health, limit yourself to six or seven egg yolks per week (about one a day).”

She recommends keeping half a dozen hard-boiled eggs on hand for snacks or salads. They’ll keep in your fridge for one week.

2. Fresh veggies

“I keep a variety of fresh veggies in my fridge at all times: broccoli, bell peppers, carrots and other basics, plus fun veggies like sugar snap peas or asparagus,” says Ms. Taylor.

Think produce is expensive? “It should make up one-third of your diet, so it should take up one-third of your grocery budget,” she says.

For faster prep, buy veggies prewashed and precut (or do this yourself on weekends). Add veggies to your favorite recipes, dip them in hummus, saute them or roast them.

For Ms. Zumpano, it’s all about the leafy greens: They’re packed with vitamins (A, B2, B6, C, E and K, and folate) and minerals (calcium, copper, fiber, magnesium, potassium and zinc).

“I keep a large container of organic spinach, arugula, mixed baby greens or spring mix in my fridge at all times to add to soups, salads, rice, pasta, smoothies and protein shakes,” she says.

Love salads, but hate the prep? Buy salad kits in the produce section. “They allow you to make restaurant-quality salads in minutes,” says Hillary Sullivan, RDN, LD. Complete with crunchy toppings and dressing, just add a lean protein to your salad kit to make a meal.

“But beware of the high-calorie dressings,” she cautions. “I recommend using half the packaged dressing and half balsamic vinegar.”

 

3. Berries

“Berries are low in sugar, compared to other fruits, and quite versatile,” says Ms. Zumpano. They’re rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (specifically vitamin C, folate, potassium and fiber).

She adds berries to cooked grains and dry whole-grain cereal, yogurt, smoothies and protein shakes.

Ms. Kirkpatrick is partial to blueberries. “I always have them on hand. You can take a handful for a quick snack, and blueberries are an easy add-on for oatmeal and salads,” she says.

4. Low-fat Greek yogurt

Plain, non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt is a good source of probiotics and protein.

“It has twice the protein of regular yogurt, with none of the added sugar in flavored yogurts,” says Ms. Taylor. “Greek yogurt is definitely a staple in my home.”

Top yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit (and cinnamon) for breakfast or snacks.

“Or use 2% reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt to add instant tang, like sour cream or cream cheese would, to any meal,” says Ms. Sullivan.

Both dietitians suggest using Greek yogurt:

  • As a base for creamy dressings, dips and sauces
  • To replace mayonnaise in egg or tuna salad
  • As a substitute for sour cream on chili and tacos
  • To add protein to baked goods (like oatmeal banana pancakes)
  • To add protein to oatmeal

5. Other lean proteins

Cooked chicken breast. Grilled turkey burgers. Beans. Quinoa. “These ready-to-eat lean proteins make prepping dinner quick and easy at the end of a long day,” says Ms. Sullivan.

Ms. Kirkpatrick would add tempeh to that list. She uses it in a variety of meals and snacks.

“I love tempeh for two reasons,” she says. “First, because it’s made from soybeans, it provides wonderful isoflavones that help fight disease. Second, it’s fermented, which helps provide more good bacteria for my gut.”

So put these items on your grocery list, and keep your fridge well-stocked with them. You’ll find yourself enjoying healthy, amazing meals all week long

How can you Lower your Blood Sugar Levels?

Blood sugar levels are a primary concern for people with diabetes. High blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia, occurs when a person’s blood sugar is over 180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

High blood sugar levels can be dangerous if not promptly managed and lead to both short-term and long-term problems.

In this article, we look at some different ways to help people lower their blood sugar levels. These steps include lifestyle changes, diet tips, and natural remedies.

Why is managing blood sugar important?

Woman checking blood sugar levels after exercising next to glass of orange juice.

Keeping blood sugars at target levels helps people with diabetes avoid serious complications from the disease. High blood sugar can cause many ill effects, which can be sudden, such as acid buildup in the bloodstream, or occur gradually over time.

Over time, keeping blood sugar at unhealthful levels can damage small and large blood vessels in several organs and systems, leading to serious consequences, such as:

  • vision impairment and blindness
  • foot ulcers, infections, and amputations
  • kidney failure and dialysis
  • heart attacks and strokes
  • peripheral vascular disease, a condition where blood flow to the limbs is reduced
  • damage to the nervous system, leading to pain and weakness

By keeping blood sugar levels under 100 mg/dL before eating and under 180 mg/dL after eating, people with diabetes can significantly reduce their risk of adverse effects from the disease.

How to lower blood sugar levels

Here are 12 ways that a person with diabetes can lower high blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications.

1. Monitor blood sugar levels closely

High blood sugar levels often do not cause symptoms until they run well over 200 mg/dL. As such, it is essential for a person with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar several times a day. Doing so will mean that blood sugar levels never get that high.

A person with diabetes can use a home glucose monitor to check blood sugar levels. These are available for purchase online

Recommendations for how frequently to check glucose levels during the day will vary from person to person. A doctor can make the best recommendations regarding blood sugar monitoring to a person with diabetes.

2. Reduce carbohydrate intake

Researchers have carried out studies showing that eating a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet reduces blood sugar levels.

The body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar that the body uses as energy. Some carbs are necessary in the diet. However, for people with diabetes, eating too many carbohydrates can cause blood sugar to spike too high.

Reducing the amounts of carbohydrates a person eats reduces the amount a person’s blood sugar spikes.

3. Eat the right carbohydrates

The two main kinds of carbohydrates — simple and complex — affect blood sugar levels differently.

Simple carbohydrates are mainly made up of one kind of sugar. They are found in foods, such as white bread, pasta, and candy. The body breaks these carbohydrates down into sugar very quickly, which causes blood sugar levels to rise rapidly.

Complex carbohydrates are made up of three or more sugars that are linked together. Because the chemical makeup of these kinds of carbohydrates is complicated, it takes the body longer to break them down.

As a result, sugar is released into the body more gradually, meaning that blood sugar levels do not rapidly rise after eating them. Examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grain oats and sweet potatoes.

4. Choose low glycemic index foods

The glycemic index measures and ranks various foods by how much they cause blood sugar levels to rise. Research shows that following a low glycemic index diet decreases fasting blood sugar levels.

Low glycemic index foods are those that score below 55 on the glycemic index. Examples of low glycemic foods include:

  • sweet potatoes
  • quinoa
  • legumes
  • low-fat milk
  • leafy greens
  • non-starchy vegetables
  • nuts and seeds
  • meats
  • fish

5. Increase dietary fiber intake

Fiber plays a significant role in blood sugar management by slowing down the rate that carbohydrates break down, and the rate that the body absorbs the resulting sugars.

The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble fiber. Of the two types, soluble fiber is the most helpful in controlling blood sugar.

Soluble fiber is in the following foods:

  • vegetables
  • legumes
  • whole grains
  • fruit

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6. Maintain a healthy weight

Losing weight helps control blood sugar levels. Being overweight is linked to increased incidents of diabetes and greater occurrences of insulin resistance.

Studies show that reducing weight by even only 7 percent can reduce the chances of developing diabetes by 58 percent.

It is important to note that a person does not need to achieve ideal body weight to benefit from losing 10–20 pounds and keeping it off. Doing so will also improve cholesterol, reduce the risk of complications, and improve a person’s general sense of well-being.

Eating a healthful diet full of fruits and vegetables and getting enough exercise can help a person lose weight or maintain their currently healthy weight.

7. Control portion size

At most meals, a person should follow portion guidelines provided by a doctor or nutritionist. Overeating at a sitting can cause a spike in blood sugar.

Although simple carbohydrates are typically associated with elevated blood sugar levels, all food causes blood sugar levels to rise. Careful control of portions can keep blood sugar levels more controlled.

8. Exercise regularly

Exercise has many benefits for people with diabetes, including weight loss and increased insulin sensitivity.

Insulin is a hormone that helps people break down sugar in the body. People with diabetes either do not make enough or any insulin in their body or are resistant to the insulin the body does produce.

Exercise also helps to lower blood sugar levels by encouraging the body’s muscles to use sugar for energy.

9. Hydrate

Proper hydration is key to a healthful lifestyle. For people worried about lowering high blood sugar, it is crucial.

Drinking enough water prevents dehydration and also helps the kidneys remove extra sugar from the body in the urine.

Those looking to reduce blood sugar levels should reach for water and avoid all sugary drinks, such as fruit juice or soda, which may raise blood sugar levels instead.

People with diabetes should reduce alcohol intake to the equivalent of one drink per day for women and two for men unless other restrictions apply.

10. Try herbal extracts

Herbal supplements in the form of matcha powder and loose leaf tea on spoons, next to cup of green tea.

Herbal extracts may have a positive effect on treating and controlling blood sugar levels.

Most people should attempt to gain nutrients from the foods they eat. However, supplements are often helpful for people who do not get enough of the nutrients from natural sources.

Most doctors do not consider supplements as a treatment by themselves. A person should consult their doctor before taking any supplement, as they may interfere with any prescribed medications.

Some supplements a person may want to try are available for purchase online, including:

  • green tea
  • American ginseng
  • bitter melon
  • Aloe vera
  • fenugreek
  • chromium

11. Manage stress

Stress has a significant impact on blood sugar levels. The body gives off stress hormones when under tension, and these hormones raise blood sugar levels.

Research shows that managing stress through meditation and exercise can also help to lower blood sugar levels.

12. Get enough sleep

Sleep helps a person reduce the amount of sugar in their blood. Getting adequate sleep each night is an excellent way to help keep blood sugar levels at a normal level.

Blood sugar levels tend to surge in the early morning hours. In most people, insulin will tell the body what to do with the excess sugar, which keeps the blood sugar levels normal.

Lack of sleep can have a similar effect to insulin resistance, meaning that a person’s blood sugar level could spike significantly from lack of sleep.

Takeaway

Managing high blood sugar is key to avoiding serious complications from diabetes.

There is a range of lifestyle interventions that can help a person struggling with high blood sugar to lower their glucose levels.

A person should always follow their doctor’s advice for lowering high blood sugar.

 

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Can I use artificial sweeteners if I have diabetes?

Answer From M. Regina Castro, M.D.

You can use most sugar substitutes if you have diabetes, including:

  • Saccharin (Sweet’N Low)
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
  • Acesulfame potassium (Sunett)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Stevia (Pure Via, Truvia)

Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, low-calorie sweeteners or nonnutritive sweeteners, offer the sweetness of sugar without the calories. Artificial sweeteners are many times sweeter than sugar, so it takes a smaller amount to sweeten foods. This is why foods made with artificial sweeteners may have fewer calories than those made with sugar.

Sugar substitutes don’t affect your blood sugar level. In fact, most artificial sweeteners are considered “free foods” — foods containing less than 20 calories and 5 grams or less of carbohydrates — because they don’t count as calories or carbohydrates on a diabetes exchange. Remember, however, that other ingredients in foods containing artificial sweeteners can still affect your blood sugar level.

More research is needed, but some studies have found that the benefits of substituting sugar-sweetened food and beverages with those that have been sweetened artificially may not be as clear as once thought. This may be especially true when artificial sweeteners are consumed in large amounts. One reason may be a “rebound” effect, in which some people end up consuming more of an unhealthy type of food because of the misperception that it’s healthy because it’s sugar-free.

Also, be cautious with sugar alcohols — including mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Sugar alcohols can increase your blood sugar level. And for some people, sugar alcohols may cause diarrhea.

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Are Plant-based Diets Healthy? Pros & Cons

Thinking about trying out a plant-based diet and want to know more? Here, dietitians Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, and Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, explore some details that can help you decide if it’s right for you — and if so, how to jump right in.

What is a plant-based diet?

These vegan-like diets eliminate all animal products, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and honey. As the name suggests, everything you eat — including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds — is derived from plants.

Are plant-based diets healthy?

Research reflects that following a plant-based diet has significant health benefits as long as you do it correctly.

“No matter when you start, a diet that is focused on plant foods will help you work toward the prevention of many illnesses and feeling better overall,” Zumpano says.

If followed properly, a whole foods, plant-based diet limits the use of oils, added sugars and processed foods, leaving only whole foods to provide nutrition. This maximizes nutrient intake and virtually eliminates foods that can lead to poor health outcomes.

These diets are low in saturated fat, free of cholesterol, and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Research also reveals that following this type of diet will lower your risks of:

  • Heart disease.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Diabetes.
  • Digestive disease.
  • Colon and breast cancers.
  • Obesity.

Studies also show that a plant-based diet can help to lower body weight and reduce your LDL cholesterol.

 

The cons of a plant based diet

Following a plant-based diet means saying goodbye to all animal products — including lean meat and dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream.

“That’s easier said than done for many of us,” Patton says. “But when you have the right guidelines and wrap in changes over time, replacing animal products in your diet is possible.”

Another thing to note — if you don’t plan your plant-based diet correctly, you may not meet all your protein, vitamin and mineral needs. And you won’t feel or look your best if you develop a nutritional deficiency. But there are easy ways to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need.

How to get enough protein

You’ll want to make sure that your diet includes enough protein to maintain muscle mass, strong bones and healthy skin. The following foods are packed with protein:

  • Beans, lentils and split peas.
  • Quinoa.
  • Soy products like tempeh, tofu, soybeans and soy milk.
  • Nuts and seeds.

How to get enough vitamins and minerals

You’ll also need to get adequate calcium and vitamin D in your diet to ensure healthy bones. This won’t be difficult if you:

  • Drink a milk alternative such as soy, almond, rice or hemp milk, which contain both calcium and the vitamin D needed to absorb it.
  • Eat plenty of dark green leafy lettuce and beans which contain calcium.
  • Eat mushrooms and fortified cereals which contain vitamin D. If you aren’t consuming fortified foods on a consistent basis you’ll need to take a vitamin D supplement. Sunlight is another source of vitamin D.

You’ll also need enough zinc in your diet to support a healthy immune system, enough iron to maintain energy and immunity and enough vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. This means you’ll want to:

  • Eat whole grains, beans and fortified cereals for zinc and iron.
  • Eat fortified cereals and soy products to get your vitamin B12.
  • Nutritional yeast is also a great source of vitamin B12.

How to get started on a plant-based diet

“To start your plant-based diet, keep it simple. Begin by cutting out one animal product at a time,” Patton says.

  • First, replace all milk and dairy products with soy, rice, almond and hemp alternatives. Use nondairy yogurt or kefir and soy or coconut-milk coffee creamer.
  • Next, replace chicken, turkey, beef, pork, veal, lamb and fish with plant proteins.
  • Stock up on legumes, beans, nuts, seeds and vegan meat alternatives like tofu veggie burgers, nutritional yeast, seitan and tempeh.

Be sure to include all four food groups at each meal — plant protein, fruit, vegetables and whole grain — as shown in the following sample menu.

Sample One-Day Plant-Based Vegan Menu

Breakfast

  • 1 cup cooked steel cut oats mixed with 1/8 cup chopped nuts, ½ cup fresh berries, ½ cup pureed pumpkin or butternut squash and 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed.
  • 1 cup soy milk.

Snack

Dairy free yogurt or kefir.

Lunch

  • Veggie burrito (whole grain tortilla spread with vegan refried beans stuffed with mixed greens, tomatoes, peppers, onions and nutritional yeast).
  • 1 ounce of corn tortilla chips.
  • Fresh salsa or guacamole.

Snack

1 apple with 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter.

Dinner

Tofu stir fry with brown rice and choice of veggies — snap peas, carrots, onions, broccoli, spinach, water chestnuts and/or sliced almonds, sautéed in vegetable broth or 1 tablespoon of olive, canola, sesame or peanut oil.

Dessert

½ cup of sorbet topped with 1 cup tropical fruit salad — mango, pineapple and melon.

“Once you begin, in time you’ll fill your kitchen with what you need and will get easier every day. A plant-based diet may seem restrictive, but you can look at it as a simpler way of eating,” Zumpano says.

 

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

Is a Slow Heart Rate Good or Bad for You?

Mann checking smart watch for heart rate

You expect your body to slow down a bit as you age, but if the same slowing happens with your heart, is that a good or a bad thing?

A slow heart rate (or a low heart rate) is known as bradycardia, and occurs frequently in older adults. “As people get older, there is occasional normal wear and tear on the electrical system of the heart,” says cardiologist Jose Baez-Escudero, MD. “As a result, the normal rhythm tends to slow down.”

Dr. Baez-Escudero shares when to worry about low heart rate — and the signs and symptoms to watch for.

What is a low heart rate?

Doctors consider a low heart rate to be 60 beats per minute (bpm) and below. In fact, if you have bradycardia, you’ll have a low resting heart rate below 60, even when you’re awake and active. In contrast, a normal range is 60 to 100 bpm while awake.

Can what’s considered a low heart rate change depending on the activity?

For most young people, highly trained athletes, and people who work out regularly, a low heart rate while exercising — defined as below 60 bpm — is normal and healthy.

The same goes for your nightly snooze. When you’re asleep, your heart rate normally slows down to 40 to 60 beats a minute.

What causes a low heart rate?

Many things can bring on a slow heart rate.


A heart malfunction

The most common cause for bradycardia is a malfunction in the heart’s natural pacemaker, the sinus node. It controls how quickly the top and bottom heart chambers pump blood through the body.

AV Block

Another cause of bradycardia is atrioventricular block (AV Block), in which the top and bottom chambers don’t communicate well and your heart rate drops as a result.

“It’s like having virtual electrical cables and wires inside the heart,” Dr. Baez-Escudero says. “These deteriorate as we age. Common medications used in older populations can also often make bradycardia more significant.”

Age

Age is the most common risk factor for developing bradycardia. The condition is most common among men and women over age 65.

 

Having certain illnesses or conditions

Illness or other conditions may also cause bradycardia. These include:

  • Heart attacks due to coronary artery disease.
  • A bacterial infection in the blood that attacks your heart.
  • Inflammation of your heart muscle.
  • Low thyroid function.
  • An electrolyte imbalance.
  • Too much potassium in your blood.
  • Certain medications, including beta blockers and antiarrhythmics.

Congenital heart defects, diabetes or long-standing high blood pressure all may make bradycardia more likely, says Dr. Baez-Escudero.

What are the symptoms of a low heart rate?

It is very possible to have a slow heart rate and experience no symptoms. However, if you have symptoms but ignore them, it can sometimes cause more serious problems.

Consult your doctor if you are experiencing some of these symptoms and you have an associated slow heart rate:

  • Lack of energy.
  • Low stamina.
  • Dizziness.
  • Weakness.
  • Chest pains.
  • Confusion/memory problems.
  • Heart palpitations or flutters.

Does bradycardia require treatment?

If your heart rate is slow, but you don’t have symptoms, there’s no reason to worry. However, it’s a good idea to know the signs of trouble because bradycardia in some cases does require treatment.

For example, if your heart rate drops into the 30s, you might not get enough oxygen to your brain, making fainting, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath possible. Blood can also pool in your heart chambers, causing congestive heart failure.

The importance of monitoring your heart rate

If you are concerned about a low heart rate, visiting your physician can help determine the causes. Your doctor will first ask about your usual activities and conduct a physical exam.

They may use an electrocardiogram (EKG) to measure the electrical signals in your heart, in order to see whether they’re firing correctly. Wearing a 24-hour monitor can also help your doctor see how your heart performs over time.

Once your doctor decides you might need treatment, they will try to rule out medications or other pre-existing conditions as causes. Sometimes changing medications or similar strategies can solve the problem.

If not, implanting a pacemaker via minimally invasive surgery is the only option to speed up your heart rate, Dr. Baez-Escudero says.

However, he notes that bradycardia isn’t often an emergency, so doctors have time to choose the right treatment.

“In general, bradycardia allows time for us to evaluate the condition and rule out if any other condition is responsible,” Dr. Baez-Escudero says. “Then, we can adjust medications or take other steps if we need to.”

 

These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes

Can Wet Hair Actually Make You Sick?

If you have long hair, you’ve probably experienced the aggravation of running out of time to dry it before you head outside or fall into bed.

But was your grandma right about the risks? Wet hair can be annoying, sure, but is it actually dangerous?

Can you catch a cold (or something worse) from wet hair?

Family medicine specialist Matthew Goldman, MD, talks about the potential hazards of wet hair — including a concern you may not have considered.

Going outside with wet hair

Children have heard the warnings since the beginning of time: “Don’t go out in the cold with wet hair, or you’ll catch pneumonia!” But with apologies to grandma (she has so much other wisdom to share), this one isn’t true.

You cannot get sick from simply going outside with wet hair.

“Hair being wet is not the cause for catching a cold,” Dr. Goldman says. “A microorganism, such as a virus, has to be involved to cause a cold.”

Still, he explains, there is some logic to the old warning:

“Colder air temperatures are better environments for viruses, such as the rhinovirus (the most common cause for the common cold), to travel through the air. There is some research to suggest that the lack of sun and vitamin D during the winter may also play a role in a weakened immune system or a diminished ability to mount a response to an infection.”

He adds that when people congregate indoors to avoid extreme temperatures — including harsh cold or blistering heat — infections that are transmitted through the air tend to pass more often and more easily from one person to another.

That means it’s not your hair or the weather that’s making you sick. It’s gathering indoors to get away from the weather, wet hair or otherwise.

 

The risks of sweaty hair

Bacteria and fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. That’s why fungal infections (think diaper rash, jock itch, athletes’ foot, etc.) are so common within the folds and crevices of your body. They’re places that tend to accumulate sweat — which is, of course, both warm and moist.

“If your hair is recurrently wet and warm, such as from sweat in a warmer climate, and it comes into contact with a microorganism, then it is more likely for infection to occur,” Dr. Goldman says.

What happens when you sleep with wet hair

Who among us hasn’t showered at the end of a long day and plopped into bed without drying our hair? You may never have thought twice about doing so — but Dr. Goldman lays out the possible risks.

You risk infection

But here’s some unsettling info: Sleeping with wet hair can increase your risk of infection. Again (noticing a pattern here?) that’s because fungi and bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, and when you fall asleep with a wet mop, you create exactly such an environment.

“If you happen to bring fungus or bacteria (or both) home with you and deposit them onto your pillow or sheets, there is a chance they will survive and thrive,” Dr. Goldman warns. “The recurrent heat from your head on the pillow or body on the mattress and sheets, especially if your head is wet — either from bathing before bed or from overnight sweating — can lead to fungal and bacterial growth.”

Such infections can include:

  • Aspergillosis: This infection can be dangerous to people with respiratory issues or weak immune systems. It’s caused by a mold commonly found on pillows, which can fester in the dampness caused by wet hair.
  • Malassezia folliculitis: This itchy, acne-like condition is caused by a yeast infection of the hair follicle and is made worse by sweat. It can cause dandruff or scalp dermatitis.
  • Scalp ringworm: Formally called tinnea capitis, this highly contagious fungal infection causes a red, itchy, ring-shaped rash and can even result in bald spots.

Again, though, it bears repeating: It’s not wet hair itself that can make you sick. If you’ve already been exposed to a particular bacteria or fungus, though, sleeping with wet hair can create a hospitable environment for gunk to grow — which can ultimately result in infection.

Beware other risks of sleeping with wet hair

Wet hair is weakened hair.

When your hair is wet, it can safely stretch up to 30% of its original length without damage. But stretching it further — as through combing, brushing and certain hairstyles — can cause irreversible changes.

You’re especially vulnerable to hair damage if you sleep with damp tresses in tight styles (think braids and buns), which can put tension on your hair and make it more susceptible to fractures. This can cause hair to:

  • Break easily.
  • Grow slowly.
  • Look damaged and dull.

How to protect your hair at night

This one’s easy. “Whenever possible, go to sleep with dry hair,” Dr. Goldman says.

You can further protect yourself by choosing a pillowcase that doesn’t retain moisture, like one made of silk or another moisture-wicking fabric. That way, on the (hopefully rare) occasions that you do go to sleep before blow-drying, your hair will better retain its own moisture and limit friction — which can contribute to shining, strength, fullness, and overall hair health.

 

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How to Calm Your Anxiety at Night

It’s bedtime, and not a creature is stirring…except for your racing mind, that is. Why is it that even after a relatively anxiety-free day, our minds sometimes go into overdrive when our heads hit the pillow?

Psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, talks about how to calm anxiety at night and even prevent it from happening in the first place.

Why do you get anxiety at night?

When you lie down at night to unwind, your brain turns to all of the worries it didn’t have time for during the day. Frequently, this anxiety revolves around worries you can’t solve in the moment.

“All the things that have been put on the back burner come to the forefront of your head,” Dr. Albers says. “Without competing demands for your attention, these worries often get louder and more pronounced.”

Chronic daytime stress puts your body into overdrive and taxes your hormones and adrenal system, which are directly linked to sleep — so sleep troubles may be a red flag telling you to address stress during your waking hours.

Nighttime anxiety can trigger a vicious cycle: A bad night’s sleep leads to exhaustion the next day and disrupts your body’s natural rhythms. “This makes you more vulnerable to anxiety during the day that can bleed into the night,” Dr. Albers says. And so the cycle repeats.

Settle into your routines

When it comes to sleep, routine is your best friend.

  • Eating at the same time every day helps regulate your circadian rhythms.
  • Eating breakfast signals that it’s time for your body to wake up.
  • Regular daytime exercise releases endorphins and decreases levels of cortisol, the hormone behind stress.
  • Going to bed at the same time every night teaches your body to get sleepy around the same time.

But if you want to lessen nighttime anxiety, it’s still important to implement a specific nighttime routine.

“You can’t expect to go from 100 mph and then suddenly stop,” Dr. Albers says. Instead, institute a 30-minute transition between bedtime and the rest of your day.

Try quiet, tech-free activities that reduce your cortisol levels and help ease you into sleep, such as:

  • Taking a bath
  • Reading a book
  • Journaling
  • Doing yoga stretches

Try these pre-sleep snacks

If you’re worried you’ll be too worried to fall asleep, head off nighttime anxiety with these all-natural tricks:

  • Drink tart cherry juice or eat a bowl of tart cherries. Studies show that tart cherry consumption can help you sleep for up to 85 minutes longer because they’re a source of melatonin, a sleep aid that reduces inflammation in the body.
  • Make a mug of chamomile tea. This ancient herbal tea has been clinically shown to help reduce anxiety and promote sleep.
  • Pop a Brazil nut or two. These big, buttery tree nuts are one of the world’s best sources of selenium, which can help your thyroid run smoothly and thus aid in sleep. Just two Brazil nuts have been shown to be as helpful as a selenium supplement.

Try not to consume caffeine late in the day, whether in coffee or elsewhere. “Be mindful of what you’re consuming,” Dr. Albers says, “because too much caffeine can exacerbate existing anxiety.”

Put your phone to bed

Just say no to doomscrolling before bed — the practice of taking in a barrage of bad news online. “Give your phone a bedtime before your own,” Dr. Albers advises.

And if anxiety keeps you awake or wakes you up, resist the temptation to break this rule and start using your phone. Your phone’s blue light signals your brain to turn back on, ultimately making it even harder to get to sleep.

“This is a No. 1 no-no for helping you fall back to sleep,” Dr. Albers warns.

If you can’t sleep…

If you wake up with anxiety in the middle of the night, these practical tips can help you stop tossing and turning:

  • Write it down. Keep a journal next to your bed where you can jot down your worries. “This helps you to detach and let it go,” Dr. Albers says.
  • Try an app. Apps such as Calm, Headspace®, or the Cleveland Clinic’s Mindful Moments share relaxing sleep stories to help soothe your mind.
  • Listen to soothing music. Studies show that relaxing tunes can calm your autonomic nervous system, which leads to slower breathing, reduced heart rate, and lower blood pressure, all of which help you sleep.
  • Get up but stay calm. If you simply can’t snooze, it’s OK to get out of bed — just be smart about what you do next. “Choose an activity that is relaxing rather than a task or activity that turns on your brain full-throttle,” Dr. Albers says. She recommends routine, low-engagement tasks such as packing your lunch and folding the laundry.

And try to avoid self-medication with food, alcohol, or sleep aids, which can provide short-term help but won’t get to the root of your issues.

Meditate on it

“Your breathing patterns are a signal,” Dr. Albers says. “When your breathing slows down, it sends a message to your brain and body that it’s time to go to sleep.” She suggests this 4-7-8 breathing technique from Dr. Andrew Weil:

  • Gently part your lips.
  • Exhale, making a “whoosh” sound as you do.
  • Silently inhale as you press your lips together for a count of four.
  • For a count of seven, hold your breath.
  • Exhale for a count of eight, and make the whooshing sound again.
  • Repeat this four times as you first start; work up to eight repetitions.

Finally, if nothing seems to help your nighttime anxiety, check in with a physician or therapist, who can help get to the bottom of underlying medical conditions or anxiety disorders.

As you (try to) fall asleep, remember: Mindfulness is key. Rather than worrying about the future, focus on what’s within your control right now — like getting to sleep.

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Diet Do’s and Don’ts to Prevent Kidney Stones

Passing a kidney stone can feel as intense as labor pains minus the adorable bundle of joy. If you’ve gone through it, you’re probably eager to prevent it from happening again. The good news is that your diet can make a big difference.

“Medications, genetic disorders and medical conditions can all play a role in stone formation,” says urologist Smita De, MD, PhD. “But diet is a critical component for most patients.”

The best diet to avoid kidney stones varies depending on the type of stone a patient makes since each has different risk factors. There are four main kinds of kidney stones, but the most common are calcium oxalate stones.

Health issues, such as diabetes or osteoporosis, can also affect stone development and dietary recommendations. So it’s essential to consider these factors when developing the best kidney stone diet plan for you.

But these seven general guidelines are good for most people who’ve had stones, says Dr. De.

1. Drink more fluids

When urine is concentrated, waste products in fluid start to crystalize. The best way to combat that is to drink more fluids to water down your pee. “Most people are way more dehydrated than they think they are,” says Dr. De. “They’re not drinking nearly enough fluid.”

Aim for at least 2.5 liters of liquid a day. That’s about 10 cups. Water is the healthiest choice, but most beverages — including coffee and alcohol — count.

The exceptions? Sugary drinks like punch and cola, which research suggests may increase your risk of kidney stones.  Also, some types of teas may not be the best depending on your type of stones.

2. Keep eating calcium-rich foods

People with calcium oxalate stones often think they have to cut out dairy. That’s very rarely the case, says Dr. De. “You need calcium in your diet to support strong bones and muscles. What causes an issue is if you’re taking large amounts of calcium supplements.”

Try to meet your calcium needs through food rather than supplements unless your doctor recommends otherwise.

3. Reduce salt intake

Higher salt levels in urine promote stone formation. “American diets are terrible when it comes to salt intake, and it’s not just a matter of people adding salt to foods,” says Dr. De. “Many foods we eat contain a large amount of sodium.”

Dr. De says it’s surprising how much salt is in even healthy foods. “For example, low-fat cottage cheese has one-third of your daily salt in it.”

Limit your salt to 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams a day. That’s about a half teaspoon of salt. In addition to not salting your food, pay attention to how much sodium is in prepared foods, including:

  • Salad dressing.
  • Cereal.
  • Bread.
  • Soups.
  • Pasta sauces.
  • Snacks.
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4. Add lemon and lime juice to water

Lemon and lime juice serve as kryptonite for certain types of kidney stones. They contain citrate, which both neutralizes acid in urine and can stop calcium stones from forming.

“For example, uric acid crystals form and turn into stones in an acidic environment,” Dr. De explains. “So if your urine is alkaline [the opposite of acidic], then uric stones won’t form, and you can actually dissolve uric acid stones with high doses of citrate.”

Add lemon or lime into your water whenever you can. Aim for getting a total of a half cup of lemon or lime juice concentrate into your drinking water over the course of a day.

5. Talk to your doctor about supplements

Some common supplements — like vitamin C, turmeric and calcium — can increase your risk for kidney stones. Others like fish oil and vitamin B6 can help reduce your chance of getting them.

Discuss supplements with your doctor before taking them to make sure they won’t lead to stone formation.

6. Rethink some healthy foods

Your doctor may recommend more dietary changes for you based on stone type and the results of a 24-hour urine test to determine your urine composition — basically, what your urine is made of.

If you have high oxalate content in your urine, for instance, your doctor may advise staying away from oxalate-rich foods like rhubarb and spinach. Or they may recommend eating those foods with dairy, as the calcium from milk products binds to oxalates and forces them into your feces rather than urine.

“Oxalate is in a lot of really healthy foods like greens, vegetables, beans and nuts,” says Dr. De. “So we would only restrict them after examining a patient’s stone type and urine test results.”

7. Limit meat consumption

If you have kidney stones, reducing meat in your diet is a good idea, says Dr. De. Animal protein can lead to increased amounts of acid in urine. A high level of acid promotes the crystallization of compounds in your pee that can turn into stones.

High amounts of animal protein can also reduce citrate in your urine, which — as noted above — helps prevent stone formation.

You don’t have to strike meat from your grocery list entirely, but try to scale back.  That means limiting:

  • Fish.
  • Chicken.
  • Pork.
  • Red meat.

The bottom line on preventing kidney stones

Diet changes can make a big impact on the formation of kidney stones. It’s the first line of defense — and can be a very effective one — against kidney stone formation.

So with a few dietary adjustments, you may be able to ban kidney stones for life. (What a happy thought!)

21 Natural Remedies for Upset Stomach

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Everyone experiences an upset stomach and indigestion, or dyspepsia, from time to time after eating or drinking. The condition is usually no cause for concern, and it is often possible to treat the symptoms using home remedies.

Unhealthy man, suffering with stomach pain, feeling sick, unwell. Monochrome photo with red sore zone

Common symptoms of an upset stomach and indigestion include:

  • heartburn, or acid reflux
  • nausea
  • bloating
  • gas
  • belching, sometimes bringing up bitter or foul-tasting fluid or food
  • farting
  • bad-smelling or sour breath
  • hiccupping or coughing

This article looks at 21 of the most popular home remedies for an upset stomach and indigestion. We also explain when to see a doctor.

Twenty-one home remedies

Some of the most popular home remedies for an upset stomach and indigestion include:

1. Drinking water

The body needs water to digest and absorb nutrients from foods and beverages efficiently. Being dehydrated makes digestion more difficult and less effective, which increases the likelihood of an upset stomach.

In general, the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) recommend that:

  • women should have around 2.7 liters (l), or 91 ounces (oz), of water a day
  • men should have about 3.7 l, or 125 oz, of water a day

Around 20 percent of this will come from food, with the rest coming from beverages. For most people, a good figure to aim for is approximately 8 or more cups of water a day. Younger children require slightly less water than adults.

For those with digestive issues, it is imperative to stay hydrated. Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration very quickly so people with these symptoms should keep drinking water.

2. Avoiding lying down

When the body is horizontal, the acid in the stomach is more likely to travel backward and move upward, which can cause heartburn.

People with an upset stomach should avoid lying down or going to bed for at least a few hours until it passes. Someone who needs to lie down should prop up their head, neck, and upper chest with pillows, ideally at a 30-degree angle.

3. Ginger

Ginger is a common natural remedy for an upset stomach and indigestion.

Ginger contains chemicals called gingerols and shogaols that can help speed up stomach contractions. This may move foods that are causing indigestion through the stomach more quickly.

The chemicals in ginger may also help to reduce nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

People with an upset stomach could try adding ginger to their food or drinking it as a tea. Some all-natural ginger ales may also contain enough ginger to settle an upset stomach.

4. Mint

In addition to sweetening the breath, the menthol in mint may help with the following:

  • preventing vomiting and diarrhea
  • reducing muscle spasms in the intestines
  • relieving pain

Researchers have found that mint is a traditional treatment for indigestion, gas, and diarrhea in Iran, Pakistan, and India.

Raw and cooked mint leaves are both suitable for consumption. Traditionally, people often boil mint leaves with cardamom to make a tea. It is also possible to powder or juice mint leaves and mix them with other teas, beverages, or foods.

Sucking on mint candies might be another way to help reduce the pain and discomfort of heartburn.

5. Taking a warm bath or using a heating bag

Heat may relax tense muscles and ease indigestion, so taking a warm bath may help to ease the symptoms of an upset stomach. It could also be beneficial to apply a heated bag or pad to the stomach for 20 minutes or until it goes cool.

 

6. BRAT diet

Doctors may recommend the BRAT diet to people with diarrhea.

BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. These foods are all starchy, so they can help bind foods together to make stools firmer. This may decrease the number of stools a person passes and help ease their diarrhea.

As these foods are bland, they do not contain substances that irritate the stomach, throat, or intestines. Therefore, this diet can soothe the tissue irritation resulting from the acids in vomit.

Many of the foods in the BRAT diet are also high in nutrients such as potassium and magnesium and can replace those lost through diarrhea and vomiting.

7. Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol

Smoking can irritate the throat, increasing the likelihood of an upset stomach. If the person has vomited, smoking can further irritate the tender tissue already sore from stomach acids.

As a toxin, alcohol is difficult to digest and can cause damage to the liver and stomach lining.

People with an upset stomach should avoid smoking and drinking alcohol until they are feeling better.

8. Avoiding difficult-to-digest foods

Some foods are harder to digest than others, which increases the risk of an upset stomach. Anyone with an upset stomach should avoid foods that are:

  • fried or fatty
  • rich or creamy
  • salty or heavily preserved

 

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9. Lime or lemon juice, baking soda, and water

Some studies suggest that mixing lime or lemon juice in water with a pinch of baking soda can help to relieve a variety of digestive complaints.

This mixture produces carbonic acid, which may help to reduce gas and indigestion. It may also improve liver secretion and intestinal mobility. The acidity and other nutrients in lime or lemon juice can help to digest and absorb fats and alcohol while neutralizing bile acids and reducing acidity in the stomach.

Most traditional recipes recommend mixing the following quantities:

  • 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) of baking soda
  • 8 oz of clean water

10. Cinnamon

cinnamon sticks and power are a home remedy for upset stomach

Cinnamon contains several antioxidants that may help ease digestion and reduce the risk of irritation and damage in the digestive tract. Some of the antioxidants in cinnamon include:

  • eugenol
  • cinnamaldehyde
  • linalool
  • camphor

Other substances in cinnamon may help to reduce gas, bloating, cramping, and belching. They may also help to neutralize stomach acidity to reduce heartburn and indigestion.

People with an upset stomach could try adding 1 tsp of good-quality cinnamon powder, or an inch of cinnamon stick, to their meals. Alternatively, they could try mixing the cinnamon with boiling water to make a tea. Doing this two or three times daily may help to relieve indigestion.

11. Cloves

Cloves contain substances that may help to reduce gas in the stomach and increase gastric secretions. This can speed up slow digestion, which may reduce pressure and cramping. Cloves may also help to reduce nausea and vomiting.

A person with an upset stomach could try mixing 1 or 2 tsps of ground or powdered cloves with 1 tsp of honey once a day before bedtime. For nausea and heartburn, they could combine the cloves with 8 oz of boiling water instead to make a clove tea, which they should drink slowly once or twice daily.

12. Cumin

Cumin seeds contain active ingredients that may help by:

  • reducing indigestion and excess stomach acids
  • decreasing gas
  • reducing intestinal inflammation
  • acting as an antimicrobial

A person with an upset stomach could try mixing 1 or 2 tsps of ground or powdered cumin into their meals. Alternatively, they could add a few teaspoons of cumin seeds or powder to boiling water to make a tea.

Some traditional medical systems suggest chewing a pinch or two of raw cumin seeds or powder to ease heartburn.

13. Figs

Figs contain substances that can act as laxatives to ease constipation and encourage healthy bowel movements. Figs also contain compounds that may help to ease indigestion.

A person with an upset stomach could try eating whole fig fruits a few times a day until their symptoms improve. Alternatively, they could try brewing 1 or 2 tsps of fig leaves to make a tea instead.

However, if people are also experiencing diarrhea, they should avoid consuming figs.

14. Aloe juice

The substances in aloe juice may provide relief by:

  • reducing excess stomach acid
  • encouraging healthy bowel movements and toxin removal
  • improving protein digestion
  • promoting the balance of digestive bacteria
  • reducing inflammation

In one study, researchers found that people who drank 10 milliliters (ml) of aloe juice daily for 4 weeks found relief from the following symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD):

  • heartburn
  • flatulence and belching
  • nausea and vomiting
  • acid and food regurgitation

15. Yarrow

Yarrow flowers contain flavonoids, polyphenols, lactones, tannins, and resins that may help to reduce the amount of acid that the stomach produces. They do this by acting on the main digestive nerve, called the vagus nerve. A reduction in stomach acid levels can reduce the likelihood of heartburn and indigestion.

A person with an upset stomach could try eating young yarrow leaves raw in a salad or cooked in a meal. It is also possible to make yarrow tea by adding 1 or 2 tsps of dried or ground yarrow leaves or flowers to boiling water.

16. Basil

Fresh basil on a board

Basil contains substances that may reduce gas, increase appetite, relieve cramping, and improve overall digestion. Basil also contains eugenol, which may help to reduce the quantity of acid in the stomach.

Basil also contains high levels of linoleic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties.

A person with an upset stomach could try adding 1 or 2 tsps of dried basil leaves, or a couple of fresh basil leaves, to meals until their symptoms lessen. For more immediate results, they could mix half a teaspoon of dried basil, or a few fresh leaves, with boiled water to make a tea.

17. Licorice

Licorice root contains substances that may help to reduce gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach lining, as well as inflammation relating to peptic ulcers.

Someone with an upset stomach could try drinking licorice root tea several times a day until their symptoms improve. Licorice root teas are widely available online, but it is also possible to make them at home by mixing 1 or 2 tsps of licorice root powder with boiling water.

18. Spearmint

Like mint, spearmint is a common remedy for many digestive complaints, including:

  • nausea
  • stomach and intestinal spasms
  • gastrointestinal infections
  • diarrhea

Most people find that the easiest way to consume spearmint is to drink prepared herbal teas in which spearmint is the primary ingredient. There are many such teas available online.

It is usually safe to drink spearmint teas several times daily until symptoms improve. Sucking on spearmint candies may also help to reduce heartburn.

19. Rice

Plain rice is useful for people with many types of stomach complaints. It can help by:

  • adding bulk to stool
  • absorbing fluids that may contain toxins
  • easing pain and cramps, because of its high levels of magnesium and potassium

Someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea could try slowly eating half a cup of plain, well-cooked rice. It is best to wait until at least a few hours after the last episode of vomiting. The person may continue to do this for 24–48 hours until diarrhea stops.

Rice is also part of the BRAT diet that doctors often recommend.

20. Coconut water

Coconut water contains high levels of potassium and magnesium. These nutrients help to reduce pain, muscle spasms, and cramps.

Coconut water is also useful for rehydrating and is a better option than most sports drinks as it is also low in calories, sugar, and acidity.

Slowly sipping on up to 2 glasses of coconut water every 4–6 hours could ease upset stomach symptoms.

21. Bananas

Bananas contain vitamin B6, potassium, and folate. These nutrients can help to ease cramps, pains, and muscle spasms. Bananas can also help by adding bulk to loose stools, which can alleviate diarrhea.

An upset stomach and indigestion should not usually cause concern. For most people, symptoms should go away within a few hours. As older adults and children can become dehydrated much more quickly, they should seek medical attention for vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for more than a day.

People with severe, frequent, or persistent stomach problems should talk to a doctor. It is also best to seek medical attention if the following symptoms are present:

  • continual or uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
  • chronic constipation
  • fever
  • bloody stool or vomit
  • inability to pass gas
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • arm pain
  • unintentional weight loss
  • a lump in the abdomen or stomach
  • difficulty swallowing
  • history of iron-deficiency anemia or associated conditions
  • pain when urinating