What foods should you eat and avoid if you have stomach ulcers?

Deciding what to eat is difficult enough as it is. Imagine how much more difficult it would be if you had a stomach condition that prevents you from eating the foods you like!

For those of you who have stomach ulcers, choosing what foods to eat can be tricky. We totally get you. So we came up with a list of foods that can serve as your guide on what you should eat and avoid if you’re suffering from stomach ulcers.

Ulcer-friendly grubs

Stomach ulcers occur when the mucous lining of your stomach gets damaged either by the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria or by regularly taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as painkillers. Below are foods that will aid in the protection and repair of your stomach lining and help increase good bacteria which will counter the H. pylori.

1. Fruits and vegetables 

Fruits like apples, berries and grapes are rich in fibre and polyphenols that contain antioxidants. Fibre helps reduce stomach acidity and relieve bloating and pain, while antioxidants fight off free radicals that cause cell damage. Citrus fruits and juices are packed with vitamin C that facilitates wound-healing, but check to see if you experience acid reflux from these. If you do, then leave them out of your diet.

Most leafy greens and vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that promote good health and healing. They also lessen the acidity of your stomach. However, eating them raw may cause difficulty in digestion so try steaming or boiling your vegetables before you consume them.

2. Low-fat protein

Protein is essential for muscle repair and infection prevention that will aid in the healing process of your ulcers. You can get protein from both plants and animals. Soy products like tofu and tempeh, as well as peas and dry beans are good sources of plant protein, while lean meat like beef sirloin and tenderloin, skinless poultry, eggs and fish provide low-fat animal protein.

3. Fish and seafood

Most cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and tuna, as well as seafood like oysters are high in omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and help prevent more ulcers by lessening the damaging effects of gastritis.

4. Fermented products

Yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut are examples of fermented foods containing good bacteria called probiotics that help fight against the H. pylori bacteria. Probiotics also inhibit the formation of lesions in the gastric mucosa and promote the restoration of your stomach lining.

5. Whole grains

Whole grains like cereals, oats, whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and millet are rich in fibre that helps decrease gastric acidity. These foods do not cause any negative reaction in individuals with stomach ulcers and are also loaded with micronutrients such as iron, magnesium, selenium and B vitamins that contribute to your overall health. 

Ulcer symptom triggers

Now here’s a list of foods you should consume in small amounts or altogether eliminate from your diet as they have a tendency to trigger symptoms of your stomach ulcers.

1. Alcohol

Too much alcohol intake will cause stomach inflammation that can lead to the erosion of your gastric lining. It can also delay cell regeneration and further damage your gastrointestinal tract. Avoid drinking hard liquor and limit your wine and beer consumption.

2. Caffeine

Foods that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas and even some chocolates can increase the production of gastric juice in your stomach and trigger symptoms of acid reflux. These digestive reactions can further aggravate your stomach ulcers.

3. Milk

In the past, milk was recommended as a treatment for ulcers. It was later on discovered that, while milk temporarily soothes stomach pains, it also causes the production of more stomach acids, which eventually results in the irritation of your gastric mucosa and the worsening of your ulcers.

4. Foods high in fat

Fatty foods can alter the composition of your stomach lining and make it more susceptible to the H. pylori bacteria. They can also stimulate the increased production of digestive juices and trigger acid reflux, which can worsen your ulcers.

5. Spicy and salty foods

While spicy foods don’t cause ulcers, they could irritate your stomach lining. Some people with stomach ulcers may be able to tolerate a little spiciness in their foods, but if “hot” stuff makes your tummy hurt and triggers symptoms of your condition, you might have to hold off on dishes, sauces, dressings and condiments that contain ingredients like red chili peppers, horseradish, peppercorn or jalapeño. 

Foods with high salt content are not friends of your tummy either. Studies show that large amounts of salt in your stomach causes the H. pylori bacteria to become more active and attack the lining of your digestive tract.

Having the stomach for a healthy and happy life

Being diagnosed with stomach ulcers is a kick in the guts. Literally. But this condition shouldn’t stop you from living a full and healthy life. Here are some tips to help you keep your stomach happy while you are addressing your stomach ulcers.

  1. Practise good eating habits. Be conscious of how much you eat, when you eat, what you do after you eat, and how you prepare your food.
  1. Eat five to six small meals spread evenly throughout the day instead of three large ones. This way, your stomach will produce less acid each time you eat as there is less food to digest.
  1. Schedule your last meal of the day two to three hours before you sleep. Avoid lying down or engaging in strenuous physical activities for a few hours after eating to prevent acid reflux and ensure better digestion.
  1. Adopt healthier ways of preparing and cooking your meals. Try steaming, roasting, or grilling your food instead of frying them in oil or butter. These healthier cooking methods help reduce the fats in your food and make them easier for your stomach to digest.

Let Us Help You Manage Your Stomach Ulcers

Our team of accredited dietitians and nutritionists have years of experience in successfully helping individuals manage their gut and bowel disorders through personalised dietary programs. Call us at (07) 3071 7405 to book an appointment with any of our qualified dietitians and nutritionists.