While antibiotics and antacids may be needed to treat a stomach ulcer, there are certain foods that can exacerbate the symptoms including pain, a burning sensation, indigestion, gas, nausea and vomiting.
A stomach ulcer, also known as a peptic ulcer, occurs when open sores develop on the inner lining of the stomach or the upper portion of the small intestine.
Peptic ulcers are of two types: gastric ulcers that are in the stomach and duodenal ulcers that are in the upper portion of the small intestine.
The most common cause of peptic ulcers is an infection due to the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Other causes include long-term use of aspirin and certain other painkillers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.
The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is stomach pain. Stomach acid makes the pain worse, as does having an empty stomach. Other symptoms include a feeling of fullness, bloating, fatty food intolerance, heartburn, weakness, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.
People are at an increased risk of suffering from a stomach ulcer if they smoke a lot, drink alcohol in excess, lead a stressful life and eat spicy foods.
It is important to consult your doctor if you think you have a stomach ulcer. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to treat the bacterial infection and recommend antacids to reduce the acid in the digestive tract.
At the same time, you need to watch what you eat. There is no specific diet prescription for a stomach ulcer, but you can keep symptom flare-ups to a minimum and promote faster recovery by limiting or avoiding certain foods.
Here are some of the foods to avoid if you suffer from a stomach ulcer.
1. Alcoholic Beverages
While it is true that high alcohol intake is one of the risk factors of peptic ulcers, it is also a problematic beverage for anyone who already has an ulcer.
It can increase the acidity level in the stomach and therefore aggravate symptoms of existing ulcers.
A 2000 study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology reports that fermented and non-distilled alcoholic beverages increase gastric levels and acid secretion. Succinic and maleic acid present in certain alcoholic drinks also stimulate acid secretion.
Not only does alcohol increase the gastric acid in your system, but it can also leave you dehydrated. Hence, if suffering from an ulcer, it is best to avoid alcoholic beverages completely or consume them sparingly.
If you are trying to heal a stomach ulcer, it’s time to cut down on your intake of coffee as well as other caffeinated products.
While coffee does not cause stomach ulcers, it can potentially irritate an existing one.
Coffee contains caffeine and other components that are known to increase the production of stomach acid. A 2010 study by the American Chemical Society identified two such substances – catechols and N-alkanoly-5-hydroxytryptamides that stimulate stomach acid secretion in human stomach cells.
Also, coffee tends to speed up the process of gastric emptying, which may lead to highly acidic stomach contents passing into the small intestine more rapidly than normal. This may worsen your current symptoms.
Along with regular coffee, you must also avoid decaffeinated coffee. It also increases acidity to a greater degree.
3. Spicy Foods
That spicy foods can cause stomach ulcers is a common misconception. However, spicy foods like hot peppers and seasonings can irritate the lining of the stomach, thus irritating existing stomach ulcers.
So, spicy and acidic foods can worsen the symptoms of stomach ulcers in some people.
However, not all varieties of chillies and peppers are bad for ulcers. Scientists believe that the active component capsaicin present in red peppers, such as cayenne pepper, may help inhibit acid secretion instead of stimulating it.
Plus, it may help stimulate alkali, mucus secretions and gastric mucosal blood flow. Hot peppers, though, may not work for everyone.
Also, steer clear of processed and deep fried foods as they require more stomach acid for digestion, thus worsening the symptoms.
4. Red Meat
People suffering from a peptic ulcer should avoid red meat totally.
Most red meat is high in fat and protein and takes a longer time to digest. As it stays in the stomach longer, more acid is released to digest it. More acid in the stomach can irritate the stomach lining and worsen the ulcer symptoms.
Red meat can even weaken the bowel lining, which can affect the digestion process.
Avoid red meat completely until your ulcer has healed. Remember, red meat is not the only source of protein. You can get protein from other sources, such as chicken, turkey and fish.
However, always remember to remove the fatty skin from chicken before cooking it.