Helicobacter pylori, formerly known as the Campylobacter pylori, is probably one of the most famous bacteria worldwide. This infection is associated with gastritis, peptic ulcer, and even stomach cancer, although not all of its carriers develop the disease. If Helicobacter pylori bacteria are detected in a person who is symptomatic usually eradication of the bacteria is recommended.
On the other hand, gastritis and peptic ulcer usually are connected with increased acidity of the stomach. Numerous environmental exposures and specific foods/drinks are known to stimulate acid production by the stomach and damage the gastric lining, eventually, causing its inflammation and ulceration.
So what should do the one who has H.pylori infection and gastritis/peptic ulcer? Are there any recommendations regarding the lifestyle and diet to improve the symptoms and one’s well-being?
Some lifestyle changes may actually promote healing, decrease the stomach acidity and improve the symptoms.
- Smoking cessation is recommended as it is associated with increased acidity in the stomach and, therefore, higher risk of ulceration or slow healing rates;
- Alcohol should be avoided because of the same reasons;
- It is recommended to eat regularly in order to limit the time when the stomach is empty and the acid interacts with the stomach lining directly – 5-6 small meals a day are preferred. In contrast, large amounts of food distend the stomach and rupture the sensitive stomach lining;
- The consumed meals should be of adequate temperature – too hot and too cold meals should not be eaten. A person has to sit upright while eating and shouldn’t lay down after the meal, although it’s ok to rest a few minutes before and after the meal;
- The last meal should be consumed not later than 3 hours before going to bed;
- Some drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin) also damage the stomach lining, thereby they should not be taken regularly;
- Proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, pantoprazole, lansoprazole are prescribed to decrease acid production;
- Additionally, a person should identify one’s individual triggers and irritating foods and exclude them from the diet;
- Avoid stress and get enough sleep – these measures enhance the overall health and help to get better sooner;
Foods to avoid
Despite the common belief that gastritis requires radical dietary interventions, this is not true, in general only slight changes are usually recommended.
The consumption of the following foods should be avoided or restricted:
- Spicy foods such as chili peppers, horseradish, red pepper, black pepper, and spicy sauces;
- Caffeine: it is recommended to reduce coffee, tea, and caffeinated drinks intake, although complete elimination is favorable;
- Alcohol shouldn’t be drunk as it damages the stomach lining;
- Bread and grains (including granola) may irritate the stomach;
- Raw vegetables may aggravate the disease;
- Citrus fruits and berries are considered to be irritating;
- Milk and dairy products once were recommended for those who have gastritis, although recent data suggest the opposite – high in fat dairy products should be avoided;
- Processed meats such as sausages, smoked, fried or fatty meats are also suggested irritating;
- High-fat or fried snacks such as chips, fried potatoes, popcorn, cakes, cookies, and pastries are considered unhealthy and stomach-damaging.
- There is no definite opinion regarding the chocolate: some evidence suggests that chocolate may trigger heartburn, therefore, it is better not to eat chocolate;
Foods to eat
- Some studies suggest that broccoli sprouts, highbush blueberry juice, and some types of plant oils (olive oil) have antibacterial properties and may be helpful in Helicobacter pylori eradication;
- Low-fat dairy products containing probiotics were found to be useful as an additive to eradication therapy;
- Herbal teas may inhibit the growth of the bacteria in the stomach;
- Vegetables and fruits high in dietary fiber and vitamin A are supposed to decrease ulcer risk;
- Lean meat, fish, eggs, soybean products, dry beans, and peas are also considered safe;