Peptic ulcer prevention and diet
Peptic ulcer prevention
It may be possible to prevent an ulcer from developing and reduce any risk factors you may have when following the above home remedies as well as some of the below:
- Protecting yourself from any potential infections – There are a number of steps that you can take to afford you protection against the spread of H. pylori bacteria. It is not quite clear as to how the bacterium spreads, but evidence suggests that is may be transmitted through personal contact with an infected person or through contaminated water and food. Through good practices of personal hygiene and washing your hands with water and soap before eating and after going to the bathroom you may be able to reduce your risk.
- Using caution when taking painkillers – The regular use of painkillers will increase your risk of developing a peptic ulcer. There are ways that painkillers can be taken. Taking your medication with meals and in smaller doses may also help. It is best to work with your doctor regarding the use of painkillers.
The peptic ulcer diet
There is a specialised diet, or rather, eating guidelines, that will significantly increase your ulcer’s rate of healing. When this diet is followed, it will limit the foods that will irritate the ulcer as certain foods can aggravate the symptoms and result in bloating, heartburn, stomach pain and indigestion.
It is vital that you stick to this eating plan as anything that aggravates your ulcer will only make your symptoms worse and your healing process longer. You may also be putting yourself at risk of other complications developing such as the peptic ulcer bleeding should you not adhere to these recommendations.
Please note that this eating plan is not a means of treatment, but rather a way to promote the healing of your ulcer. You will need to still have your ulcer diagnosed and treated by your doctor and stick to the treatment therapy accordingly in order to ensure that you undergo a full recovery.
The following can also be used for those who suffer from gastritis.
What foods and beverages should be avoided or limited?
It is best to avoid any spicy, acidic or high-fat foods. It is suggested that you learn to identify what foods have the worst impact on your peptic ulcer symptoms, everyone is affected by food differently. The foods to avoid pertain to the ones that result in the over-production of stomach acid which can interfere with the healing of the ulcer and irritate the lining of the digestive tract.
The following foods may aggravate the symptoms of an ulcer:
- Chocolate milk and full-fat milk
- Hot chocolate
- Carbonated beverages
- Caffeinated beverages
- Decaffeinated or regular coffee
- Spearmint or peppermint tea
- Black or green tea
- Citrus fruit juices
- Alcoholic beverages
Seasonings and spices
- Red and black pepper
- Chilli powder
- Mustard seed
- Dairy foods that have been made from cream or full-fat milk
- Strongly flavoured or spicy cheeses that contain black pepper or jalapenos
- High-fat meats that are highly seasoned such as ham, cold cuts, bacon and sausage
- Peppers and chillies
- Sugar – highly refined sugars found in foods create a harsh environment in the stomach as they are difficult to digest
- Tomatoes - any tomato products such as tomato paste, tomato sauce or tomato juice
- Highly processed carbs such as white bread, cakes, cookies and doughnuts.
- Fried foods such as French fries, potato chips, onion rings.
- Margarine – this is a highly processed spread that takes very long for the stomach to process.
- Red meat – This contains a high amount of protein and takes a longer time to digest, therefore resulting in more stomach acid. Red meat also contains more fat than white meat, this also requires more stomach acid for digestion.
- Chewing gum – This causes a build-up of stomach acid as the body detects the saliva in the mouth and chewing as actual food and prepares itself to digest it.
What foods and beverages can I have?
There are a number of foods and beverages that you are still able to consume that will help promote the healing of your ulcer. Try to eat vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamin A and C as these are vital for your immune system function, giving it the strength it needs to help the body heal the peptic ulcer. Whole grains and fibre-rich foods are a great option, as well as healthy fats.
Those who follow these eating guidelines will note a significant improvement in their ulcer symptoms and their general well-being.
The following are some fibre-rich foods that you will promote healing:
- Bell peppers
- Other legumes
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grain cereals
- Brown rice
Healthy foods for protein
There have been studies that suggest that eating protein is vital for ulcers to heal. Protein promotes the healing of all wounds. Some healthy proteins include:
- Eggs (egg whites)
- Lean meats
It is vital that you choose healthy fats over trans fats as these may help in alleviating the symptoms of an ulcer. These include:
- Vegetable oils
- Fish oils – these can also be taken in the form of supplements (Omega-3s)
- Seed and nut butters
Foods rich in probiotics
These may be able to help in the relief of ulcer-related pain and include:
- Yoghurt – some research suggests that natural yoghurt contains active cultures which are good bacteria that may be able to promote the healing of the ulcer and inhibit the growth of H. pylori
- Aged cheese - this may contain the same cultures as yoghurt
Beverages and condiments
- Filtered water
- Herbal tea
- Plant-based milks
Supplements, spices and herbs
- Cranberry extract – This may stop the growth of the H. pylori in your stomach
- Mastic extract – This may also inhibit bacterial growth in your stomach
- Vitamin C – Promotes the healing of ulcers through boosting the immune system
- DGL-liquorice extract – This may help to protect the digestive tract from anti-inflammatory drugs
- Probiotics – These aid in the ulcer recovery and help in counteracting the side effects of other medications such as antibiotics which upset the natural intestinal flora balance of the stomach
Individual tolerances to spices may vary and it is best to know what aggravates your symptoms personally. Some ‘safe’ herbs include:
Other helpful diet guidelines
It is best to stop eating for at least two hours before you go to bed as this will help prevent any heartburn and indigestion. It is also advised that you eat smaller meals more frequently as this will be easier on your stomach and digestion.
The above list is more of a guideline and you may find that some foods that are allowed may aggravate some of your symptoms. Therefore, you should spend time in identifying your individual problem foods and avoid these until your ulcer has completely healed.