Got an unsettled stomach? Let’s see if milk will calm it down


Soothing an upset stomach can be tricky. Eat or drink the wrong thing thinking it could help and you could upset your stomach even more. 

For instance, acid-provoking caffeine products like coffee or chocolate as well as spicy and fatty foods can further upset your stomach.

So, can drinking milk ease the symptoms of an upset tummy? The answer depends on why your stomach is aching.

If it's an excess of acid that's causing inflammation in the oesophagus or stomach, then milk may help. That’s because milk coats the lining and buffers the acid inside your stomach.

Milk can also help to quell the burning sensation of spicy foods like chilli. The chemicals in spicy foods like capsaicin (chillies) or piperine (pepper) activate pain receptors that send signals to your brain, allowing you to interpret the spicy sensation of chilli. 

Therefore, spice not only affects the taste buds but also certain exposed membranes like your nose, under your fingernails or the surface of your eyes. That’s when milk can help, by slowing down the chemicals and allowing the receptors to go back to normal.

Long before antacids came on the market, people would drink milk to treat stomach pain and it’s still useful advice in some cases. The important thing to remember is what it was that upset your stomach. If you just ate something that disagreed with you, perhaps something too fatty or sugary or acid, then milk might help. 


But there are cases where milk might aggravate the situation. For instance, if you’re lactose-intolerant, avoid drinking milk unless it’s lactose-free.

If you have an infection of E.coli, Listeria or one of the other kinds of bacteria that cause food poisoning, then you shouldn’t drink milk or anything else, except water. Try taking constant little sips of water instead of big gulps.

Of course, there can be all sorts of reasons your stomach may be upset and if the pain doesn’t go away in a day or so, it’s wise to see your doctor.