There are so many different tools you can use in healing an ulcer, but food is the most important one. While supplements and medications can help calm acid reflux, you can adjust your diet so that the ulcer isn’t irritated in the first place. Given enough time, you may even be able to eliminate the ulcer altogether. The best foods for an ulcer is important to know so you can get from hurting to healing as quickly as possible.
While there are some foods that can help with an ulcer, this post will also cover the foods to avoid if you have an ulcer. What you do eat is just as important as what you don’t eat. Food sensitivities and/or allergies can be harmful to the digestive tract and trigger an ulcer causing painful acid reflux. It’s for this reason that a lot of people who have ulcers have success with the certain elimination diets. If you are having ongoing digestive issues, I always recommend writing a food journal as well as starting an elimination diet to help you rule out any sensitive foods. This list is also a great place to start.
Foods to Eat If You Have an Ulcer
Boiled potatoes are not a glamorous food by any means, but they are usually affordable and a great source of energy. This is important because you may be restricting a lot of your typical foods while working to heal your ulcer. Boiled potatoes offer an option that’s filling, accessible, and gentle on the digestive tract. Avoid adding too many seasonings while you figure out your trigger foods, but feel free to top with a squeeze of lemon for some additional flavour.
Berries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, both of which are immuno-supportive nutrients. Having a healthy immune system is important when healing an ulcer. Antioxidants are also cancer-protective, and since long-term ulcer issues can result in stomach cancer it doesn’t hurt to be proactive. Consider having berries as a snack or having frozen blueberries and plain yogurt for dessert.
While darker meats take a long time make their way through the stomach and onto the rest of the digestive tract, fish is a protein source that is very easy to digest. Fish is also high in omega 3 fatty acids which assist in the production of prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance that can help protect the stomach lining. Salmon, cod, mackerel, and trout are all options particularly high in omega 3’s.
If you’re looking to pair something with your fish, broccoli is your best bet. While broccoli is great nutritionally for so many reasons, there is a specific component that can help if you have an ulcer. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which is a compound that has anti-H. pylori activity. Since the bacteria H. pylori is one of the greatest causes of peptic ulcers, this food may help reduce the bacteria and help heal the ulcer as a result. Adding a little salt is okay, but flavouring with a squeeze of citrus is your best option.
Foods to Avoid If You Have an Ulcer
I know coffee is more of a beverage, but I always feel that coffee important to touch on. Most people are very resistant to giving this one up. Still, if you have an ulcer, you should avoid coffee, if even just temporarily. Coffee is a known trigger for ulcers. I understand how difficult it can be to give up coffee, especially for those of us who are used to having 2 or 3 cups per day. Think of giving up coffee (again, even temporarily) as an investment in your long-term health. With commitment and a proper ulcer healing strategy, you may be able to reintroduce coffee again soon.
Highly Processed Foods
Highly processed foods (frozen pizza, fast foods, canned soup) are often high in both fat and salt. There is evidence to support that individuals with an h. pylori infection (the most common cause of peptic ulcers) who consume high salt and high fat are at a higher risk for stomach cancer. I don’t recommend giving up all of your favourite foods, but rather recreating your own healthy versions at home. Have a homemade pizza night and avoid adding processed meats, or bake your own french fries in the oven so you can control the amount of salt being added.
Chocolate is a common trigger for ulcers. While the exact cause for this isn’t known, scientists believe that it may be the components of theobromine (a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant) and caffeine in chocolate that contribute to this. It’s also possible that the surge of serotonin from eating chocolate relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which worsens reflux by allowing the gastric contents to rise. Like coffee, you may not need to give up chocolate forever. However, giving it up while you heal can only help the process.
Not every person with an ulcer will need to follow the FODMAP diet, however I highly recommend it for those with an ulcer and other stubborn symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. FODMAPS stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. The FODMAP diet is a restrictive diet that removes these specific types of sugars. In some people, these sugars can irritate the digestive tract, cause uncomfortable symptoms, worsen small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and trigger acid reflux flare-ups. If you are having difficulty pin-pointing trigger foods and feel like you’re at the end of your resources, consider this diet.
It’s important that you feel empowered on your ulcer healing journey. While battling digestive issues can be difficult both mentally and physically, there are tools you can use to start the healing process today. To learn more about my personal healing journey, click here.
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