Many people experience nausea on a regular basis. This might be after eating, while eating, or it could just be randomly during the day.
Nausea tends to be accompanied by a drop in energy, headaches or feeling heavy, or vomiting. You might have to lay down or are unable to participate in an activity you wanted to because of it. You might be unsure what to eat or skipping meals because it feels like all food is bringing it on.
IBS is often associated with constipation and diarrhea, but nausea is a common symptom as well - particularly in women. Nausea should be investigated as it is always a symptom of another condition, which might be serious. I am going to talk about nausea in the context of it being a symptom of IBS.
Overly sweet food or overly greasy food can cause nausea. This is again mostly due to poor absorption.
Sugar is irritating to the gut and causes inflammation, particularly in high doses. You might eat something and feel like that was ‘sickly sweet’, particularly if you don’t eat sweet things very often.
Dietary fat requires bile to break it down and absorb it. Bile is made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. If you don’t have a gallbladder, you will know that you have trouble tolerating fatty meals. If there is liver dysfunction then you might also not be making enough bile, meaning that fat doesn’t get broken down properly.
When food is not absorbed properly, it ferments in the colon and causes those digestive issues, including nausea.
While you are feeling sick, it is important to rest. Eat light, dry meals if you can and keep up your water intake. Give your body a little love to help it recover. Lemon and ginger tea is also nice to sip on when you are feeling nauseous.
This is again a tricky one, as when there is an food intolerance, it can take up to 48 hours before symptoms appear. I keep coming back to this - but a diet and symptom diary really is the most effective (and free) way to identify if there are any intolerances. Particularly if you feel like you can’t relate your symptoms to a particular food.
Try keeping it for a week and see if you can identify a pattern. If not, you might need to keep the diary a little longer or get specific food intolerance testing.
Again, stress crops up! You may have noticed in yourself that you feel nauseous or vomit when you are stressed or upset about something.
It comes back to the stress response by the body. Nerves regulating digestion are hyper-stimulated by stress. As the body draws blood and energy away from your digestive organs (to send to your arms and legs to save your life), digestion is impaired. This can cause that sensation of ‘butterflies’ in the stomach.
You also breathe more rapidly, as part of the stress response to help get more oxygen to your muscles. But if you don’t exhale completely, as you likely won’t be, the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood is thrown out. This can cause dizziness and then nausea.
Muscle tension itself can make you feel sick, as the bowels also become tense. Over 90% of serotonin is actually made in the gut, and stress can cause issues in the utilization of this neurotransmitter, leading to nausea.
A big way you can help here is to become more breath aware. The quickest way to send a message to your brain that you are safe is to inhale deep into the belly and exhale slowly, making the exhale longer than the inhale. Practice doing this before you get out of bed, while you are reading your emails or waiting for the kettle to boil. Every bit helps, and the more you practice then the more you will do it naturally.
You can find more about gut health and nausea here.
About Sarah Spann
Sarah Spann is a Holistic Gut Health Consultant based in Brisbane, Australia. As an author, speaker, clinical nutritionist and wellness coach, she is dedicated to changing the paradigm of gut health and helping her clients to get back the freedom, energy, and vitality their digestive issues have taken away. Sarah’s passion is in empowering people to nurture themselves back to their most vibrant health so they can thrive in their lives.
Sarah was drawn to nutritional medicine after a long history of poor gut health including her diagnosis of celiac disease. With over 10 years of combined personal and clinical experience, and through working with many clients, Sarah has a deep understanding of the unique and holistic approach required to facilitate long-term gut healing.
Sarah’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine) and Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine. She is a registered nutritionist with the Australian Traditional Medicine Society.
Her work has been featured on Healthline, Food Shopper, and Health Magazine UK, amongst others. She has also featured in many interviews including the Humanley podcast, eHealth Radio Network and Ticker TV.