Imagine being invited to a braai where every sweet, spicy, and sour beverage imaginable would be offered, but you have to say no to practically everything since you suffer from stomach ulcers.
Eating and drinking the wrong things
Dr Nontuthuko Mashimane, an iridologist and founder of Evolve Genix based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, explains to Health For Mzansi that stomach ulcers are primarily caused by the side effects of chronic medications.
Alcohol consumption, a diet high in processed foods, and excessive intake of sugary foods such as juice and fizzy drinks are also factors that contribute to the development of stomach ulcers. Stomach ulcers are not attended to promptly, they can progress to a chronic stage.
Mashimane explains that nowadays, there is no specific age at risk for stomach ulcers. They can develop as early as in the mid-20s due to the lifestyle choices you make.
Diet changes inevitable
Mashimane advises that you consult your nutritionist for a change of diet, as diet changes are not a uniform lifestyle.
“When you already have ulcers and are living with them, certain foods such as citrus fruits, beans, vinegar, and anything with flour can cause discomfort. This is because an ulcer is essentially an open wound in the gut.”
She suggests avoiding foods that contain sugar, gluten, and dairy at all costs.
Mashimane recommends that people with stomach ulcers increase their intake of lettuce and take in one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda mixed in a glass of warm water every morning before eating.
Sensitive stomach struggles
According to Healthline, stomach ulcer symptoms include acid reflux, bloating, burping, heartburn sensation, tarry stools, and vomit that’s bloody or looks like coffee grounds.
If you develop a bleeding ulcer (also known as a haemorrhaging ulcer), you will require immediate surgery
Manini Theoane of Vereeniging, Gauteng, was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in March 2022. Following that, she was diagnosed with a variety of gastrointestinal conditions, including a stomach infection and a hernia. She explains that she struggles to adhere to any diet due to her sensitive stomach, which quickly reacts to various types of food.
“The doctor advised me to avoid consuming foods such as cheese, chocolate, and spicy meals.”
She prefers to consume soup and vegetables with turmeric and ginger due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
“I have a strong affinity for both cheese and chocolate, but I prioritise my health by following my doctor’s orders.”
Theoane has not attempted any home remedies. She hesitates to try something that could potentially worsen her present stomach conditions.
Foods to limit
According to Lila Bruk, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Association of Dietetics in South Africa (Adsa), caffeinated beverages such as coffee, and tea may trigger stomach acid production.
Furthermore, people who have ulcers may experience elevated stomach acidity and discomfort as a result of consuming caffeine, as explains Bruk.
“High-fat and fried foods are harder to digest and can slow down the emptying of the stomach, leading to increased pressure on the stomach lining. This can exacerbate ulcer symptoms and delay healing.”
She points out that mint and peppermint can have a relaxing effect on the lower oesophagal sphincter. This calming effect may cause stomach acid to flow back into the oesophagus, potentially worsening symptoms for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, or ulcers.
Triggers will differ from person to person
She mentions that consuming raw onions and garlic can potentially irritate the stomach and lead to discomfort, particularly for people living with stomach ulcers.
“It’s important to remember that individual tolerance to certain foods can vary, and not everyone with stomach ulcers will have the same triggers.”
What foods are recommended for ulcer patients?
Bruk suggests the following meals for stomach ulcer patients:
- Lean proteins: Opt for lean sources of protein, such as skinless poultry, fish, tofu, and legumes. These foods are easier to digest and less likely to irritate the stomach.
- Low-fat dairy: Low-fat or fat-free dairy products, such as skim milk, yoghurt, and cottage cheese, can provide essential nutrients without the added irritation from excessive fat content.
- Whole grains: Choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread over refined grains. Whole grains are rich in fibre and nutrients that support digestive health.
- Healthy fats: Include sources of healthy fats, such as avocadoes, olive oil, and nuts (in moderation), which can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
- Herbal teas: Chamomile tea and ginger tea are known for their soothing properties and may help alleviate stomach discomfort.
- Cooked and soft foods: Cooked and soft foods are generally easier on the stomach than raw or tough foods. Examples include cooked vegetables, well-cooked grains, and tender proteins.
- Non-acidic fruits: Opt for non-acidic fruits, such as melons, ripe bananas, and cooked apples, which are less likely to irritate the stomach lining.
- Probiotic-rich foods: Probiotics, found in fermented foods like yoghurt and kefir, can support a healthy gut microbiome and aid in digestion.
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