Health

Foods to treat stomach ulcers

Donovan Grant

Monday, July 10, 2017

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Dear Donovan,

I have bad stomach ulcers. So far I've only been able to eat yoghurt. What other foods could you suggest to vary my diet?

Stomach ulcers — the most visible signs of peptic ulcer disease — are painful sores found in the lining of the stomach and duodenum. These sores are usually formed when the thick layer of mucus surrounding and protecting the stomach is eroded. When this happens, it becomes easier for the digestive juices to eat away the lining tissue of the stomach. Stomach ulcers can be caused by a number of factors such as an infection from the helicobacter pylori (H pylori) bacteria, long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, excess acid (hyperacidity) in the stomach, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome — a rare disease that makes the body produce excess stomach acid.

Symptoms associated with stomach ulcers include a burning sensation or pain in the area between the chest and the navel. This is usually more intense when the stomach is empty. In addition, stomach ulcers may come with other symptoms including weight loss, nausea and vomiting, bloating, burping, acid reflux and heartburn.

Stomach ulcers should never be taken lightly. Untreated ulcers can become worse over time and can lead to other ailments.

Most cases are usually treated with prescription drugs, but certain lifestyle changes can help stomach ulcers from forming. These include limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco products, properly managing stress, and maintaining a good diet. With stomach ulcers it is very important to find a diet that will reduce acid reflux, heal the stomach, and prevent the symptoms of ulcers from becoming aggravated. As you have discovered, a diet rich in probiotics — for example, yoghurt, aged cheese and miso — can help to control the symptoms of stomach ulcers.

In addition, you could eat fruits and vegetables which are rich in flavonoids, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. Such foods include strawberries, apples, celery, cranberries, bananas, papaya, onions, garlic and green peas. Foods with high-fibre content like whole grains are also recommended, as fibre has been shown to protect the stomach. Another useful addition to your diet is green juice, which will help to reduce acidity in the stomach. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C have also been shown to reduce the population of ulcer-causing bacteria in the stomach.

Foods with vitamin E are very important. These include avocados and hazelnuts. Vitamin E also has the ability to promote stomach health. So in general you could have more fruits and vegetables, soups, salads, etc. It is also important to have several small meals instead of three large meals per day.

Note that people with stomach ulcers should avoid having spicy foods, carbonated beverages, citrus fruits, oily food, chocolate and alcohol. Good luck!

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight, or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.

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