Ulcers are lesions that can develop within the lining of your digestive system. The majority of ulcers are found in the duodenum and are known as duodenal ulcers. Another common type of ulcer is the gastric or peptic ulcer which occurs in the stomach. While there are other kinds of ulcers, these are the two types that are most relieved by a stomach ulcer diet.
Ulcers can develop for a number of reasons and in some cases, there is no cause to be found. Many ulcers are caused by a bacterium known as H. pylori. Others are caused by an over-production of stomach acid which literally burns into the lining of your digestive tract. This is the type of ulcer that can be triggered due to stress. Certain medications, like anti-inflammatories, can damage the lining of the stomach and contribute to the development of ulcers. This is especially true with long-term overuse of these types of medications.
A stomach ulcer diet will not actually heal a stomach ulcer. Dietary changes are mainly to reduce the pain and other symptoms of an ulcer or to reduce stomach acid production if that is a contributing factor. Most ulcers will actually heal on their own if they are not constantly aggravated by the wrong foods or by continuing other factors that may have triggered the ulcer. Duodenal ulcers are caused mainly by bacteria so will also need antibiotics to kill off the bacteria in order to heal. However, a stomach ulcer diet can help relieve the symptoms while the medication takes effect and allows the ulcer to heal faster.
The stomach ulcer diet has three main purposes: prevent irritation to the stomach lining, reduce acid production and prevent indigestion and heartburn. What we eat definitely can affect how we feel when we have any kind of ulcer. One type of ulcer will feel more pain when the stomach is empty while another will feel more pain after eating a meal. Both types of ulcers react much better when the sufferer eats six small meals each day rather than three large ones. That way the stomach doesn’t get either completely empty or too full.
Avoid caffeine when following a stomach ulcer diet. This stimulant increases the production of stomach acid which can cause pain, nausea and vomiting with any type of ulcer. Not only is the pain worse, the increase in acid can actually make the ulcer worse or even create a new one.
Other foods that are high in acid will trigger acid production and cause stomach irritation, as well. Typical culprits are chocolate (more for the caffeine), carbonated soft drinks, citrus fruits and juices and tomato-based foods and juices. These foods and beverages should be avoided as much as possible.
Some ulcers feel better temporarily after a glass of milk. The common myth is that the milk will coat your stomach but that is not actually the case. It makes you feel better for a short time because milk has more solids than other beverages and will help in the case of ulcers that don’t like an empty stomach. However, you will suffer for it after because milk is one of the worst offenders when it comes to the creation of stomach acid. So you feel better for a bit and then it will suddenly get worse due to the over-production of acid that will occur as it digests. So, while you don’t want to cut milk from your diet totally, you need to not overdo it and only have it with meals.
A stomach ulcer diet is often referred to as a bland diet because you should be avoiding foods that are overly spicy, fried or full of fat. All of these can cause stomach irritation and increase the production of stomach acid. As we’ve already learned, you want to avoid those two things with any type of ulcer so these food are definitely out of the picture.