- Best Foods to Eat
- Drinks Good for Ulcers
- Foods Not Good to Eat
- Do You Have an Ulcer?
- Signs and Symptoms
- When to See the Doctor
- How Long to Heal
- Risks and Outlook
What is a stomach ulcer?
Stomach ulcers are open sores that develop on the stomach lining. They can also be called gastric ulcers or peptic ulcers. They can affect people from a young age, but they are more common in people over 60 years old. Men are also more likely to have stomach ulcers.
Ulcers occur when acids from digested food damage the wall of your stomach. The most common cause of stomach ulcers is infection from a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Another cause is long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs).
For a long time, people believed that stomach ulcers were caused by certain lifestyle choices. Many thought that eating spicy foods and experiencing stress were linked to ulcers, but there’s no concrete evidence that confirms those beliefs.
In rare cases you could have a cancerous or noncancerous tumor in your stomach, duodenum, or pancreas known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
Stomach ulcer symptoms include:
- Discomfort between meals
- Stomach pain that wakes you up at night
- Feeling full quickly
- Bloating or burning pain in your stomach
- Pain that comes and goes for days or weeks at a time
If you have the following symptoms, your ulcer may have torn and become a bleeding ulcer. You need to seek medical attention immediately if you believe you have an ulcer and you’re experiencing:
- Vomiting blood
- Blood in your stool
- Pain in your back
- Unexplained weight loss
Best foods to eat when you have a stomach ulcer
Stomach ulcers may require lifestyle and dietary changes to manage them while they are healing. Acid reducing medications may also be beneficial. Previously, a bland diet was recommended for stomach ulcers but current research does not support that idea.
Dietary modifications can help, but spicy foods aren’t necessarily an irritant. Doctors now emphasize a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. The best foods to eat when you have a stomach ulcer include:
This includes oats, legumes, flax seeds, nuts, oranges, apples, and carrots. These foods are good for you because they can help prevent ulcers from developing.
Vitamin A rich foods
Foods like broccoli, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and collard greens contain vitamin A. These foods increase the mucus production in your gastrointestinal tract, which some believe can help prevent ulcers.
This includes garlic, onions, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, and snap peas. Research suggests that these foods can help protect your gut against chronic gastritis, H. pylori infection, and stomach cancer. These foods help inhibit H. pylori growth.
What about eggs, bread and bananas for a stomach ulcer?
Bread may be beneficial if you suffer from stomach ulcers, but you need to eat the right kind. Choose whole-grain bread, which is high in fiber that benefits gut health. Avoid refined white bread. Bananas are also good for ulcers because they are a good source of fiber and they are rich in compounds that help protect the stomach lining against acid. Eggs may help if you have an ulcer because they are high in vitamin A, but avoid fried eggs because fat can aggravate stomach ulcers.
What drinks are good for ulcers?
Foods are not the only dietary factor that can impact ulcers. What you drink can affect stomach ulcers as well.
This tart juice can potentially reduce the risk of H. pylori overgrowth in your stomach and prevent inflammation.
Emerging research indicates that green tea can help fight off H. pylori.
Kefir is a probiotic beverage that contains beneficial bacteria that have anti-H. pylori activity. So drinking kefir may be helpful if you have a stomach ulcer due to H. pylori infection.
Cabbage juice is rich in glutamine, a compound that helps heal stomach ulcers.
What foods are not good to eat and could aggravate an ulcer?
There are certain foods that could irritate your stomach ulcer, and it might be a good idea to limit them. Those foods include:
How do you know if you have an ulcer?
For many years, it was thought that ulcers were caused by stress, alcohol, or spicy food. However, modern research shows they are usually caused by a specific bacterial infection in the stomach and upper intestine, certain medicines, and smoking.
Signs and symptoms of ulcers
The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is a dull or burning pain in your stomach, between the navel and breastbone. This pain may last from a few minutes to a few hours and may come and disappear for weeks. You may also experience:
- Feeling full when eating
- Loss of appetite and feeling sick in the stomach
- Bloating after meals
- Unexplained weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dark or bloody stool
- Back pain
Types of ulcers
There are two main types of peptic ulcers, duodenal and gastric. They have almost the same signs and symptoms. The most common way to distinguish between them is noticing what times you feel pain relative to your eating schedule.
It forms in the upper small intestine. If you feel stomach pain several hours after eating, or a stomach ache that wakes you up in the middle of the night, it could be the result of a duodenal ulcer. The pain usually improves after you have eaten.
This one forms in the lining of the stomach. The most common symptom is pain that often occurs when food is still in the stomach, just after eating.
Causes of ulcers
A stomach ulcer occurs when the mucous layer that protects your stomach and small intestine lining from acid breaks down. It happens when acid in the digestive tract eats away at this lining. This leads to the development of a sore.
H. pylori infection
The Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria was discovered in 1982 by two doctors, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren. Since then, doctors have confirmed that the H. pylori bacteria cause peptic ulcers in ninety percent of all people with the condition.
However, it is important to note that many people who have H. pylori bacteria do not get ulcers.
The nicotine contained in cigarettes is known to weaken the stomach lining, increasing the risk of someone developing a peptic ulcer.
There is a group of medicines that doctors call non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These are known to increase the risk of someone developing peptic ulcers.
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When to see the doctor for ulcers
If you think you have an ulcer, make a point of seeing the doctor. This is especially so if you vomit and notice blood in the vomit or the vomit looks like coffee grounds. Also, if your stool is bloody or has blackish material, it could be a sign of severe ulcers that need immediate medical attention.
How long should a stomach ulcer take to heal?
Stomach ulcers are painful and you may wonder how long it takes until stomach ulcers go away. The length of time it takes until a stomach ulcer goes away is variable and depends on the underlying cause. Once you start treatment, you can expect a stomach ulcer to heal in approximately 4 to 6 weeks. If you experience side effects from treatment, talk to your doctor. Do not stop treatment without consulting with your doctor or it could hinder your healing.
Risks and outlook for a stomach ulcer
If you have a stomach ulcer, you may have to make daily choices to help alleviate and prevent future flair ups. A stomach ulcer that tears and starts bleeding may cause long-term complications. You may experience severe pain and require additional surgery to stop the bleeding.
Acid reducing medications are also an option for treating your condition. If you have H. pylori related ulcers you may be at a greater risk for certain forms of cancers and lymphoma.
If your symptoms get worse, you should contact your doctor to find an appropriate management plan.
The best option for managing your stomach ulcer with food is to have a high fiber diet that’s rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Consider adding tea to your diet and try to drink alcohol in moderation.
If you suspect you have a stomach ulcer, you should consult your doctor. They will be able to give you a proper diagnosis and help you determine the right course of treatment. If left untreated and unmanaged, a stomach ulcer can become life-threatening.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
California Medicine: "Rapid Healing of Peptic Ulcers in Patients Receiving Fresh Cabbage Juice."
California Medicine: "Vitamin U Therapy of Peptic Ulcer."
Frontiers in Microbiology: "Fermented Foods: Are They Tasty Medicines for Helicobacter pylori Associated Peptic Ulcer and Gastric Cancer?"
Gastroenterology: "Surfactant Approach to the Gastric Mucosal Barrier: Protection of Rats by Banana Even When Acidified."
GI Society: "Stomach Ulcer Diet."
MountSinai.org: "Peptic Ulcer."
MountSinai.org: "Peptic Ulcer Disease – Discharge."
National Health Service: "Stomach ulcer – Causes."
National Health Service: "Stomach ulcer – Complications."
National Health Service: "Stomach ulcer – Overview."
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Symptoms and Causes of Peptic Ulcers (Stomach Ulcers)."
Very Well Health: "What to Eat When You Have an Ulcer."
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