Sometimes one topic can steer an entire conversation. Recently, I was out to dinner with some friends. And when it came to ordering some wine, one of them—a wine lover—refused. You see, Kelly’s burning stomach pain was recently diagnosed as a stomach ulcer. And she did not want to aggravate it by drinking alcohol.
Well, for the next 15 minutes, everybody just talked about their “go-to” remedies to help relieve the burning sensation of a stomach ulcer.
But, me being me, I decided to dig deep and find out the real truth about a problem that (I later discovered) affects almost six million people in the United States each year.
What Is a Stomach Ulcer?
Stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers, are open sores in the lining of the stomach.
While the most common cause of stomach ulcers is an H. pylori infection, overuse of painkillers and anti-inflammatories, smoking, and constant exposure to stress can also cause and/or aggravate the ulcers.
Your doctor might give you an antibiotic to fight the infection, or medications to reduce, block, or neutralize stomach acid. While these provide temporary relief, managing these ulcers in the long term is crucial.
How to Manage Your Stomach Ulcer Naturally
The most important thing to consider is what you eat. A diet centered on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that contain vitamins, polyphenols, and flavonoids could help your body heal your ulcer.
1. Foods You Should Eat
Most fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins. Foods like dried rosemary, Mexican oregano, dark chocolate, blueberries, and black olives are rich in polyphenols. And soybeans, legumes, red grapes, kale, broccoli, apples, berries, and green tea contain enough flavonoids to boost the stomach lining.
Other common foods that fight an H. pylori infection are honey, garlic, and cranberry. However, if you are a diabetic, honey and cranberry juice might not be the best choices. In which case, you could try deglycyrrhizinated licorice— a special type of licorice that has been de-sweetened. This licorice has been proven to inhibit the growth of H. pylori.
Probiotics—a fancy name for live and healthy microbes— can slow and kill the bad bacteria. But, for probiotics to work, they must have sufficient numbers to outnumber and out-power the “bad bacteria.” Some foods containing probiotics include yogurt, aged cheeses, miso, and sauerkraut.
2. Foods You Should Avoid
While what you eat can definitely help heal the ulcers, what you don’t eat is equally important. Avoid coffee, carbonated beverages, chilies and other hot peppers, salty red meats, processed foods, and deep fried foods. And no, contrary to popular belief, milk is not good for ulcers. It just causes your stomach to produce more acid.
As stress aggravates an ulcer, the most important thing to do is not worry about your ulcer. I know, this is easier said than done. Try meditation. It’s an amazing stress buster.
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