Those suffering from stomach ulcers may have numerous dietary concerns. While this guide can help you determine what foods to eat and what foods to avoid when you have stomach ulcers, it is best to consult a doctor so he or she can devise the proper diet for your condition.
Diet And Stomach Ulcers
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there is no diet that will treat or worsen stomach ulcers, as they are mostly consequences of stress and infection of the H. pylori bacterium on the stomach lining. For some people, however, eating certain foods and avoiding others may relieve discomforts.
It is generally recommended to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day, since the stomach should not be overwhelmed and should have time to heal itself. All acid-inducing foods should be avoided as well, since acidity can irritate the ulcer, cause more pain, and prolong healing time. Sometimes, mild, liquid meals, such as vegetable and fruit smoothies, can be ingested in place of solid foods.
What To Eat
Generally, dietary fiber is extremely important in maintaining optimal gastrointestinal health, and may help with the recovery of peptic ulcers. Some foods high in fiber include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grain breads, tortillas, rolls
- Popcorn without butter or additives
Not only do fresh fruit and vegetables provide tons of fiber, they are also a great source of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body will need to heal ulcers. While all fresh fruits and vegetables are great sources of antioxidants, it has been known that colorful produce with deep, vibrant hues have even higher antioxidant content. Some examples include:
- Yellow squash
- Bell peppers
- Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Sea vegetables like seaweed or kelp
However, be careful to steer clear of citrus fruits, as the acidity in such fruits may irritate and worsen the ulcer.
Flavonoids are potent antioxidants that may help regulate H. pylori bacteria, which are the main culprits in stomach ulcer formation. An increased intake of foods rich in antioxidants can also be anti-inflammatory. Foods that are rich in flavonoids include:
What To Avoid
For individuals affected with peptic ulcers, there are certain restrictions on diets. Generally, foods that are high in fat, high in acidity, or may cause food-related discomforts, such as heart burns, should be avoided for a more comfortable recovery. Some of the foods that may aggravate the symptoms and should be avoided include:
- Smoking: According to the National Institute of Health, cigarette smoking increases the chance of getting a stomach ulcer. It also slows down the healing process and can worsen the condition.
- Spicy foods: Since spicy foods have a history of causing bowel problems for some people, it is best to steer clear of spicy foods if you are suffering from a stomach ulcer.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is inflammatory in nature, so it is best to keep away from these drinks until the ulcer is healed.
- Coffee: Whether caffeinated or decaffeinated, coffee is an acidic drink that may irritate the stomach lining.
- Carbonated beverages: Also acidic in nature, sodas and carbonated beverages should be avoided.
- Fatty foods: Foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as fatty cuts of red meat and buttery pastries, are inflammatory in nature.
- Citruses and their juices: citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and limes are higher in acidity than other fruits. Hence, it is better to avoid acidic fruits to reduce the risk of irritation.
Healthier Food Alternatives
There are many healthy and delicious food alternatives for those suffering from stomach ulcers. Here are a few:
Instead of fatty cuts of red meat, healthier alternatives for protein include:
- Leaner cuts of meat
- Poultry with the skin and fat removed
- Fish (if canned, make sure it is packed in water instead of oil)
- Nut butters
- Soy meat substitutes
- Beans and legumes
Instead of sodas or coffee, healthier alternatives for beverages include:
- Most fruit juices, excluding citrus juices
- Mild teas
- Almost any non-carbonated, non-caffeinated beverages
Instead of buttery pastries, healthier alternatives for carbohydrates include:
- Whole grain breads
- Desserts made without trans fats
- Desserts made with whole grains
- Whole grain tortillas and pita bread
- Oatmeal and barley
Instead of creamy condiments or spicy sauces, healthier alternatives that still add flavor include:
- Non-fat mayonnaise
- Low-fat or light margarine
- Low fat salad dressings
- Honey or syrups
- Fruit jelly and jams
- Fresh or dried herbs
- Moderate salt and pepper
Just because you have a stomach ulcer does not mean that you can only eat bland, boring foods. Fortunately, there are many milder, low-fat alternatives to popular foods out there.