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.
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:
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.
Emerging research indicates that green tea can help fight off H. pylori.
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.
There are certain foods that could irritate your stomach ulcer, and it might be a good idea to limit them. Those foods include:
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.
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.
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GI Society: "Stomach Ulcer Diet."
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."