Stomach ulcers are open sores that are formed within the inner lining of your stomach. Usually, severe stomach inflammation can bring about stomach cancer in an individual. A digestive disorder that arises from the inflammation of the lining of the stomach is known as gastritis.
If the stomach lining wears away, stomach acid can lead to a burning sensation in the middle part of the chest and abdomen. Where gastritis is left untreated, it can result in ulcers, pain, bleeding, and inflammation, which can be life-threatening.
A study by the American College of Gastroenterology involving an organization of doctors who specialize in the digestive tract, deduced that there’s no particular diet a person with ulcers needs to follow. This is to say food choices don’t cause ulcers or deteriorate the condition.
But recent diet recommendations focused on research that certain foods may contain ingredients that fight against the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, the main cause of stomach ulcers.
What are the causes and risk factors of stomach ulcers?
Doctors do assume that certain foods cause ulcers but recent researches have shown us that other things can cause this digestive disorder, like taking pain-relieving medications (ibuprofen and aspirin) for a prolonged period of time or being infected with bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori. Since food doesn’t cause or treat ulcers effectively, some can worsen your condition with more pains, while others may help you recover fast.
Research shows that a minimum of 50 percent of the world’s population is affected by Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter pylori are regarded as the greatest risk factor for stomach cancer, which is the second deadliest cancer in the world.
What are the symptoms of ulcers and gastritis?
A serious complication of gastritis leads to stomach ulcers which can cause bleeding of the intestines, stomach lining, or food pipe. You can experience pains in your lower abdomen to your chest, indigestion, and nausea feelings. Symptoms of gastritis are similar to that of stomach ulcers. Bleeding around these areas can bring about the following symptoms:
- Feeling dizzy
- Shortness of breath
- Stools with blood or black/tarry stools
- Feeling faint
- Rapid heart rate
- Ground coffee-looking vomit or bright red blood
Best foods to eat if you have a stomach ulcer
Scientists are now researching foods that can help fight against H. pylori, the main bacteria that cause the development of ulcer in an individual. You can also eat the following foods to help fight against the development of ulcer in your stomach and not just relying on the antibiotics and acid-blocking drugs prescribed by your doctor for optimal treatment. They include:
- Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries
- Red bell peppers
- Leafy green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and kale
- Olive oil/other plant-based oils
- Foods rich in probiotics like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha
- Decaffeinated green tea/herbal tea
- Sweet potatoes
How are these foods helpful?
A person whose stomach ulcer is caused by bacteria Helicobacter pylori should consume foods rich in antioxidants as it helps immensely. They also help protect and boost your immune system into fighting the bacteria infection. These foods can also help protect your body against stomach cancer.
Furthermore, certain foods like red bell peppers, cherries, and blueberries have a powerful antioxidant that helps fight against ulcer-causing bacteria. Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale have essential nutrients (B vitamins and calcium) which help prevent this digestive disorder.
According to some studies, salty and fatty foods can alter your stomach lining. A diet rich in salt can change the cells inside your stomach and make them more susceptible to become infected with Helicobacter pylori.
Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane, which inhibits the development of H. pylori in your body. Recent research shows that the fatty acids present in olive oil can also help treat Helicobacter pylori infection.
Clinical studies involving fermented probiotic foods have been found to treat ulcer effectively. Foods like sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi are also useful against been infected again.
However, turmeric is recently being studied as a potential treatment for ulcers but foods like licorice, decaffeinated green tea, and garlic can be added in your diet to make it tasty.
The effects of adding a daily cup of yogurt containing probiotics to the diet alongside “quadruple” drug therapy (multiple antibiotics) were found to treat H. pylori according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
A 2009 study published in the journal, Cancer Prevention Research deduced that people consuming at least one cup of broccoli sprouts daily for 8 weeks experienced less stomach infection and inflammation compared with those who did not.
What supplements are suitable for this digestive disorder?
You can take a probiotic supplement as part of your diet plan if your stomach ulcer is being treated using an antibiotic. This can help alleviate antibiotic-associated symptoms and also boost the effectiveness of antibiotic drugs. Where in doubt, you can inquire from your doctor what probiotic would be best to take with your antibiotic drug. Saccharomyces, Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium supplements have been found to be beneficial in people with Helicobacter pylori ulcers.
Research involving curcumin extracts and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (taken an hour before meals) has been shown to be helpful in ulcer treatment because of their action against Helicobacter pylori.
Reduce your intake of the following foods if you have ulcer and acid reflux:
It is possible for an individual with a stomach ulcer to also have acid reflux. Certain foods can relax the lower part of the esophagus in some individuals leading to what is known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This relaxed LES makes it easier for acid to return back into the esophagus and cause pain, heartburn, and indigestion.
Here are the lists of foods that can worsen your acid reflux condition:
- Consumption of alcohol
- Caffeinated drinks
- Spicy food
- Acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus
Studies carried out with rodents deduced that a high-fat diet has been found to increase stomach inflammation, especially in the presence of diet rich in salt.
Avoid overeating or eating within 2-3 hours before going to bed as it can worsen your reflux symptoms.
What are the best treatments for stomach ulcers?
You can treat stomach ulcers that are caused by Helicobacter pylori with antibiotics. Make sure you don’t deviate from your treatment plan and work closely with your doctor for effective treatment. Where there’s no improvement in your treatment, you can meet your doctor for other treatment options.
Sometimes you may be given a drug that temporarily impedes your stomach from secreting as much acid as it normally would. Most of the medications may be an H2 blocker or proton pump inhibitor.
How to care for people with stomach ulcers
The following are the various ways to care for people with ulcer or gastritis:
- Try as much as possible to consume a smaller amount of meals as it helps stomach healing effectively by reducing stomach acids effects.
- Avoid smoking because it can cause stomach inflammation and increases your risk of esophagus, mouth, and stomach cancer.
- Never over stress yourself so as to boost healing by improving your immune system immensely. Having emotional stress can trigger stomach acid production leading to increased inflammation and symptoms.
- Drink enough water to stay hydrated. Avoid consumption of alcohol so as not to increase your risk of developing stomach inflammation.
- Consume some dietary supplements like probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids which help in healing gastritis. Never take any supplements or vitamins without first consulting your doctor as they may render your treatments ineffective.
What is the outlook for people with ulcers?
However, most stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori are treated effectively but when left untreated can lead to more severe problems, such as stomach cancer and internal bleeding. Eating healthful foods can go a long way in preventing stomach ulcers/gastritis.
Now that you’ve known the causes, treatments, and prevention of stomach ulcers, never shy away from your condition. And speak to your doctor for optimal assistance and treatment. Have in mind that consuming contaminated food can lead to nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. This can also cause inflammation and develop into stomach flu.