No specific ulcer diet exists, but eating certain types of foods can contribute to an increase in stomach acid and irritate the ulcer while others can promote a healthy digestive system.
Carefully controlling your diet is crucial to successful treatment. This is to make sure that your stomach produces less acid when digesting your food. Eating large meals requires the stomach to produce large amounts of stomach acid. So it is best to eat small meals. Ideally, you should be having 5 to 6 small meals a day and not 2 or 3 large ones.
Your meals should be low in fat and sugar and high in fibre. A diet based on fruits, vegetables and whole grains is just that. The reason for avoiding fatty foods is that they are harder for you to digest, so your body then produces more stomach acid and aggravates your condition. Foods that are low in fat can speed up your recovery.
Herbal teas will also help you to feel more comfortable and support the body’s healing process, especially herbs such as marshmallow root, liquorice, chamomile and peppermint.
Red meat can be fatty, which will make your ulcer worse. Meat also contains a lot of protein and, even if you don’t have an ulcer, it takes longer to digest. Because it takes longer, it stays in the stomach for longer – therefore more acid is released to digest it.
Most red meat is higher in fat content than white meat. You can’t always see this as the fat is marbled right through the meat, giving it its flavour. So just trimming off visible fat is not enough. Ideally avoid red meat until your ulcer has healed.
If you do eat meat, stick to very lean cuts and eat tiny portion sizes (4 oz or less) to make it easier for your body to digest. Cut off any visible fat before eating. Eat the meat at least three hours before bedtime to give your body a chance to digest it. If you eat meat too close to bedtime, you may feel worse when you lie down.
You need protein in your diet. Eat white meats such as chicken or turkey and fish. Remember to remove the fatty skin from chicken.
Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring contain omega-3 fatty acids. They help to reduce the risk of ulcers by producing compounds called prostaglandins, that help to protect the lining of the stomach and intestines (Mori et al, 2006).
Omega oils contain EPA and DHA which are the active compounds in this case, so if you are not eating a lot of fish take a krill oil, cod liver oil or seed oil supplement that is high in EPA and DFA. Prostaglandins appear to have a similar effect as the drug omeprazole prescribed for excess stomach acid, but without the drug’s side effects that trouble so many people.
You can also use low-fat cheese, yogurt and peanut butter, as well as tofu and other soy products.
Fruits and Vegetables
Eat more vegetables and fruit, such as carrots, kale, broccoli, red/green peppers, cabbage juice, grapes, apricots and kiwi fruit, for their beta-carotene and vitamin C content, in order to help protect the lining of the stomach and intestine.
Many fruits such as berries contain high levels of antioxidants which lower the risk of ulcers and ease symptoms when an ulcer has already developed.
There is a lot of scientific evidence that seaweeds have an antiulcer effect (Mori et al, 2006). This is because, like oily fish, they release prostaglandins. If seaweed is hard to incorporate you can take seaweed as capsules but ideally the powder from the food should be added to your food as a seasoning.
Vitamin E from foods like wheatgerm, hazelnuts, cold-pressed sunflower seed oil, soybean oil, will help along with zinc, found in seafood and whole grains.
Amino acids also have a healing action. Good food sources include: seaweed, wheatgerm, cheddar cheese, almonds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Alternatively, L-Glutamine can be taken to help an ulcer improve.