An ulcer diet helps reduce pain and irritation caused by a peptic ulcer , a painful ulcer in the lining of the stomach, esophagus, or small intestine.
Food and drink do not cause or heal ulcers. However, some foods help repair damaged tissue, while others irritate the ulcer and threaten the natural defenses of your digestive tract.
This article looks at the best foods to choose, the ones to avoid, and some tips on how to make the ulcer diet work best for you.
Your healthcare provider is more likely to treat your ulcer with medicine, not just diet. Adding an ulcer diet to your treatment can help you feel better faster and possibly prevent another ulcer in the future.
An ulcer diet, combined with your doctor's treatment recommendations, can provide relief because it can:
- Correct nutritional deficiencies that contribute to symptoms.
- Provide the body with the proteins and other nutrients it needs to heal.
- Help you avoid foods that irritate ulcers.
- Helps with comorbid conditions like Crohn 's disease, celiac disease , or bacterial infections.
Many peptic ulcers are caused by long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can damage the lining of the digestive tract. Others are caused by a bacterial infection known as Helicobacter pylori ( H. pylori ). In the ulcer diet, foods with antibacterial action and compounds are added to accelerate healing in both cases.
A 2021 review of medicinal plants published in the Journal of Drug Delivery & Therapeutics looks at a variety of natural remedies, including polyphenols . Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant found in many plant foods that can be used to treat peptic ulcers.
Some polyphenols help stomach ulcers heal faster, while others are antibacterial and help kill H. pylori . The polyphenols in green tea relieve inflammation and help strengthen stomach tissue.
Spicy and spicy foods are generally avoided on an ulcerative diet, but a review of foods and H. pylori studies found that some spices added for flavor also help kill bacteria.
Fermented dairy products like kefir or yogurt are also antibacterial. There is even evidence that some types of honey, including the rare oregano honey grown in Greece, kill H. pylori and other bacteria.
Although dietary changes alone may not heal an ulcer, dieting for an ulcer can help heal it. Certain nutrients in food, such as polyphenols and spices, can help repair damaged tissue and fight ulcer-causing bacteria. Avoiding irritating foods can reduce symptoms and speed healing.
How does it work
An ulcer diet promotes healing and reduces irritation of the lining of the stomach and duodenum , the first part of the small intestine that attaches to the stomach. It also limits excess acid production, which can make ulcers worse.
There are no hard and fast rules about what foods to eat, but try to add as many foods as you can from your main pick list. Definitely avoid foods that make you feel worse or cause acid production and reflux .
It is also important to eat enough protein. While your ulcer is healing, aim for about 1.2 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. That means about 3 ounces a day for a 140-pound woman and 4 ounces a day for a 200-pound man.
The rest of the calories should come from a balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables. More fiber may reduce ulcer risk, but a Korean study found that a high-fiber diet reduced the risk of peptic ulcer disease in women, but not in men. It is recommended that you ask your doctor about your fiber intake.
A diet for ulcers is based on foods that provide you with the right amount of essential nutrients while avoiding foods that can irritate your stomach. It also harnesses the power of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory elements found naturally in certain foods.
You should follow the ulcer diet until your doctor tells you that your ulcer has completely healed and then return to your normal diet. But if you feel better while dieting or have risk factors for developing ulcers , such as smoking, it may be worth continuing on this diet, even if you have changed.
What is it
Lean meats such as skinless poultry and lean beef.
Fish and shellfish
Whole soy foods like tofu or tempeh
Fermented dairy products like kefir or yogurt.
Healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, and walnuts
Whole and split grains
Herbs and spices (mild, fresh, or dried)
The best decision
Fruit – Any fresh or frozen fruit contains healthy fiber and antioxidants. Berries, apples, grapes, and pomegranates are some of the best polyphenol healing options. If citrus fruits or juices like orange or grapefruit are causing reflux, avoid them.
Vegetables – Leafy greens, bright red and orange vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale) are rich in vitamins and antioxidants that are especially beneficial for overall health and healing . Avoid hot peppers and tomatoes or tomato products if they cause reflux. Limit raw vegetables because they are harder to digest.
Lean Protein – Skinless poultry, lean meat such as sirloin or sirloin, fish, eggs, tofu, tempeh, dried beans, and peas are excellent sources of lean protein. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines contain omega-3 fats that can reduce inflammation and can be helpful in preventing new ulcers.
Fermented Dairy Products – Foods like kefir and Greek yogurt contain probiotics (good bacteria) along with protein, making them good choices.
Breads and cereals : whole grain breads, as well as whole grains or grains such as oats, quinoa, farro, millet or sorghum are good sources of fiber to include in your diet.
Herbs and spices : You can use most mild herbs and spices because they are a source of antioxidants. The best options include turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic, which have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Try using honey instead of sugar as a sweetener.
Foods to restrict
Alcohol : Any alcohol irritates the stomach and delays healing. Avoid wine, beer, and alcoholic beverages.
Caffeine – You should cut down or stop drinking caffeinated coffee, tea, and sodas. They can increase stomach acid production.
Milk : There was a time when milk was used to treat ulcers, but studies have shown that it increases stomach acidity. It is better to avoid it.
Certain meats : Avoid highly seasoned meats, cold cuts, cold cuts, and fried or fatty meats and proteins.
High- fat foods : Try to avoid large amounts of added fats, which can increase stomach acidity and lead to reflux. Sauces, creams, and salad dressings may need to be avoided, but the healthy fats on this list are fine.
Spicy foods : You can omit all "spicy" foods, such as chili peppers, horseradish, black pepper, and the sauces and condiments that contain them.
Salty food : Researchers have found that salty foods can promote the growth of H. pylori . Pickles, olives, and other pickled or fermented vegetables are high in salt and are associated with an increased risk of H. pylori ulcers.
Chocolate – Chocolate can increase stomach acid production and some people believe it causes reflux symptoms.
Many cereals, fruits, and vegetables contain antioxidants and fiber that can help reduce ulcer symptoms. Fermented dairy products like yogurt contain protein and probiotics. Try to avoid all alcoholic beverages and most salty, spicy, or fatty foods.
Try to eat five or six small meals a day, instead of three large ones. Stomach acid is produced every time you eat, but larger meals require much more for digestion, which can be irritating.
Stop eating at least three hours before bedtime and try to stand upright for several hours after your last bite to improve digestion and reduce acid reflux.
Do not hurry
Be careful with your body as the ulcer heals by chewing well and eating slowly.
Stick to low-fat cooking methods like baking, braising, and broiling rather than frying. Also, limit your consumption of butter and oil while cooking, as they can be more difficult to digest.
For celiac disease, this means avoiding gluten-rich grains like wheat, rye, and barley and carefully reading food labels for hidden sources of gluten.
In inflammatory bowel disease, this may mean avoiding milk sugar in lactose-based foods, avoiding soda, and choosing foods low in fiber.
There are other factors that can influence your diet for ulcers that can affect your overall health.
Diet for an ulcer should not harm your good nutrition. As long as you keep a good variety in your diet, you can still get the nutrients you need from other foods when you stop eating the ones that irritate your ulcer.
If you are trying to add more foods rich in polyphenols and fiber to your diet and cut down on fatty foods, the ulcer diet may be even more nutritious than your usual diet.
When preparing food at home, it should be fairly easy to follow the ulcer diet. When you're traveling, partying, or celebrating, it can be more difficult to stay on track. If you can't pass up a glass of wine or a chocolate cake, keep it small.
Energy and health
By banning fast food, French fries, and alcohol, you may eat healthier, feel better, and possibly even lose some weight.
Call your doctor if you have stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting that lasts for more than a few days. Ulcers can be serious if they cause internal bleeding. A diet for ulcers can help, but your health care provider must determine your general treatment plan.
Food alone does not cause stomach ulcers and there are several possible reasons why you may have them. However, the foods you choose can have a profound effect on how you feel and how quickly you heal. An ulcer diet offers options to improve overall health and nutrition, while reducing ulcer risk.
Get the word of drug information
Living with an ulcer can be excruciating and uncomfortable, and at first it is difficult to avoid the favorite foods that make the problem worse. But diet foods for ulcers are carefully selected to help your body heal and reduce the risk of new ulcers. Inform your doctor if you are dieting to be part of your overall treatment plan.