Stomach or peptic ulcers are a common cause of complaint among most people. Ulcers in the duodenum (intestinal area) are usually nonmalignant, while a severe or prolonged case of stomach ulcer may turn cancerous. Digestive juices could cause the stomach lining to erode or perforate leading to stomach ulcers. However, an acidic diet may also lead to stomach ulcers. Smoking and alcohol could aggravate the situation further.
While symptoms of ulcers may be common, it is important to diagnose the correct cause and initiate proper ulcer treatment. Talk to your doctor about medications for ulcer treatment, and also discuss with him/her whether you need to follow a specific diet for ulcers.
If you have persistent ulcer problems, an ulcer diet may help you keep digestive acids in check. Your doctor may also recommend that you limit or avoid foods high in acidic content, which could cause new ulcers; this would be an important part of your ulcer diet. Certain medications may also cause stomach ulcers as a side effect. If you experience any abdominal discomfort while taking medicines, it is best to discontinue them and consult your doctor who may suggest alternative medication.
Ulcer diet. The following ulcer diet guidelines may help reduce the discomfort arising from peptic ulcers. An ulcer diet may also work for individuals who suffer from other gastro-intestinal conditions such as gastritis, acid reflux disease, and so on.
• Stress is an often-ignored contributor to stomach ulcers. Constant stress or anxiety leads to hormonal imbalances. This may cause excess production of acids in the stomach, which may lead to erosion of the stomach lining. Ulcer symptoms mimic other symptoms such as hunger, indigestion, heartburn, and so on. If you are undergoing a lot of stress and notice abdominal discomfort, you may want to consult your doctor.
• Late night shifts, deadlines, and excess workload usually mean that you may skip meals or have irregular mealtimes. Our body needs constant nourishment. This keeps our metabolism in balance and our energy needs replenished. Irregular food habits, unhealthy food habits, or skipping whole meals may signal stomach acids to accumulate, causing discomfort and ulcers.
• Eat small-portioned meals at regular intervals. Apart from the three important meals of the day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, also accommodate time for three small snacks peppered between mealtimes. This will ensure that you are eating at regular periods to satisfy hunger and will avoid the tendency to overeat at any one meal.
• Digestion begins at the mouth as you chew. Your saliva also consists of less acidic digestive juices that aid digestion. Take the time to eat slowly, chew properly and enjoy your meal.
• For individuals suffering from acid reflux disease, it is best to eat at least three hours before bedtime to avoid suffering from the reflux action of the gastric juices when you lie down.
• Limit or avoid caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee, aerated drinks, and colas. Citrus fruits and fruit juices such as lemon, key lime, orange, tangerines, kumquats, and so on may also cause excess acidic secretion or gastric juices. In vegetables, tomato and cucumbers are known to cause discomfort to people suffering from ulcers.
• Chocolate and chocolate-based products or beverages may also irritate the stomach lining, giving rise to ulcers and should therefore not be part of your ulcer diet
• Include fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood, and lean meats in your ulcer diet. Avoid spicy, fried food that takes longer to digest and stimulates gastric juices.
• Your doctor may recommend antacids to neutralize the effects of an acidic diet or to soothe gastric problems. Alternately, your doctor may encourage the consumption of proteins such as lean meat, chicken, egg whites, milk, and dairy products like cream and cheese. However, remember that while milk proteins do help to neutralize the effect of gastric juices, excess consumption may also act as stimulant for gastric juices.
• Ask your doctor about a low fat, high fiber diet. Dietary fiber may aid digestion and reduce the effect of gastric juices. Combined with regular fluid intake, dietary fiber or roughage can stimulate bowel movement dispensing toxins and excess acids from the body.