Gastritis is a digestive condition resulting from inflammation of the lining of the stomach. If the stomach lining wears away, stomach acid can cause a burning sensation in the middle part of the abdomen and chest.
Untreated gastritis can lead to ulcers, ongoing pain, ongoing inflammation, and bleeding, which can become life-threatening. Chronic stomach inflammation can also lead to stomach cancer.
A common cause of gastritis is now known to be due to the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, known as H.pylori, which infects the stomach.
Symptoms that may signal gastritis, alongside burning sensations, include stomach aches and pains, nausea, and constant burping. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor for further evaluation.
Diet and gastritis
The food a person eats can affect their stomach lining.
Lifestyle changes can be an important step towards healing the stomach lining, preventing inflammation from returning, and fighting off an infection of H. pylori.
Research suggests that H. pylori affects at least 50 percent of the world's population. It causes stomach inflammation and increases the risk of developing ulcer disease in the digestive tract, as well as stomach cancer. H. pylori is the greatest risk factor for stomach cancer, which is the second deadliest cancer worldwide.
While there is not a specific diet that will treat gastritis, there is growing research that shows particular foods may improve a person's ability to get rid of H.pylori. Certain dietary choices can also make things worse.
Studies have shown that salty and fatty foods can change the stomach lining. High salt diets can alter the cells within the stomach and make them more likely to become infected with H. pylori.
In studies with rodents, a high-fat diet has been shown to increase stomach inflammation, especially in the presence of a high salt diet.
For decades, doctors told people to drink milk to help coat the stomach and block the harmful effects of acidic foods. Because doctors and scientists now understand the role of H. pylori in gastritis, this is no longer true.
Foods to eat
The good news is that eating certain foods may help some individuals find relief from gastritis and ulcer symptoms by killing off the H. pylori bacteria.
Two specific foods that can do this are broccoli and yogurt.
Broccoli contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which is known for its antibacterial effects. It also contains substances shown to have anti-cancer properties. As a result, eating broccoli sprouts may help with gastritis and decrease the risk of stomach cancer.
Foods that kill off the H. pylori bacteria include broccoli and yogurt.
This evidence comes from a 2009 study published in the journal, Cancer Prevention Research. People eating at least one cup of broccoli sprouts per day over a period of 8 weeks experienced less stomach infection and inflammation compared with those who did not.
A study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined the effects of adding a daily cup of yogurt containing probiotics to the diet alongside "quadruple" medication therapy (multiple antibiotics) to treat H. pylori.
A total of 86 percent of people who ate the yogurt alongside the medication had better elimination of H.pylori compared with 71 percent of those who took the antibiotics alone.
The reason is probably due to the fact that yogurt contains active cultures of good bacteria, which improves the body's ability to fight off the unwanted bacteria in the stomach.
Other foods that may help inhibit the growth of H. pylori and reduce gastritis and ulcer formation include:
- berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries)
- olive oil
- herbal teas
Getting the most benefit from a gastritis relief diet
Here are some ways for people to get the most from a gastritis relief diet plan.
- Rather than three large meals, people should try eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day. Eating smaller amounts can boost stomach healing by reducing the effects of stomach acids.
- Water is a great choice for hydration. It is also good idea to avoid or cut back on the consumption of alcohol, as it significantly increases stomach inflammation.
- Quitting smoking can help. Smoking leads to stomach inflammation and increases the risk of mouth, esophagus and stomach cancer.
- Some dietary supplements may have a role in healing gastritis. Omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics are a good place to start. People considering taking any supplements or vitamins should talk to the doctor first as they may interfere with treatments for other conditions.
- Reducing stress can boost healing by improving the immune system. Emotional stress is known for triggering stomach acid production, which can lead to increased symptoms and inflammation.
Eating the right foods with gastritis seems to play an important role in decreasing and eliminating H. pylori bacteria. Getting rid of the bacteria will reduce the chances of recurrent gastritis, ulcer formation, and cancer.
While research does not point to a universally accepted diet, embracing certain lifestyle changes and making an effort to eat the right foods are important parts of a gastritis treatment plan.
If gastritis is left untreated, it may result in ulcers, which can cause bleeding in the stomach and intestines.
Gastritis is either acute or chronic. If it is acute, it will start suddenly and last for a short period as long as the cause is removed. The cause is usually due to something that has quickly irritated the stomach, such as drinking large amounts of alcohol all at once.
If gastritis becomes chronic and isn't treated, or the cause is ongoing, symptoms will worsen and may last for many years. It can even last for a person's entire life. Chronic gastritis can cause the stomach lining to wear away resulting in ulcers, or deep sores in the stomach lining.
Many symptoms of gastritis are similar to those of an ulcer. Gastritis, however, only affects the stomach, whereas ulcers can occur in the stomach, intestines, and food pipe (esophagus).
Gastritis typically causes pain in the middle of body from the abdomen to the chest. Some people with gastritis do not have symptoms. When symptoms are present, they include pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, nausea, indigestion, and in severe cases, vomiting.
Ulcers are a serious complication of gastritis and can cause bleeding of the stomach lining, intestines, or food pipe, which can be life-threatening. Bleeding in these areas can cause the following symptoms:
- feeling faint
- rapid heart rate
- shortness of breath
- bright red blood or ground coffee-looking vomit
- black, tarry stools or bright, bloody stools
Anyone experiencing these serious symptoms of gastritis should get medical attention right away.
Risk factors for gastritis include the following:
- poor nutrition (high fat, high salt diet)
- drug use
- being overweight
- excessive alcohol use
- regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen
Reducing or eliminating the use of NSAIDs can reduce gastritis and stomach ulcers. Using NSAIDs when an H.pylori infection is also present significantly increases the risk of gastritis.
One study found that every year at least 2 percent of people who use NSAIDs will develop gastrointestinal complications, a rate up to five times higher than those who do not use NSAIDs.
Gastritis is one of the most common problems to affect the gut. As research continues on this topic, scientists will gain a better understanding of how H. pylori, diet, and the immune system are related. Eating healthful foods has the potential to be a powerful tool against gastritis.