An ulcer is an erosion of the mucous membrane. Peptic ulcers may occur in the stomach (gastric ulcer) or the duodenum (duodenal ulcer). The specific cause of ulcers is not clear, but some physicians believe that a number of factors including genetic predisposition, abnormally high secretion of hydrochloric acid by the stomach, stress, excessive use of aspirin or ibuprofen(analgesics), cigarette smoking and, in some cases, a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori may contribute to their development.
A classic symptom is gastric pain, which is sometimes described as burning, and in some cases, hemorrhage is also a symptom. The pain is typically relieved with food or antacids. A hemorrhage usually requires surgery.
Ulcers are generally treated with drugs such as antibiotics and cimetidine. The antibiotics kill the bacteria, and the cimetidine inhibits acid secretion in the stomach and thus helps heal the ulcer. Antacids containing calcium carbonate can also be prescribed to neutralize any excess acid. Stress management may also be beneficial in the treatment of ulcers.
Eating well may help your ulcer heal more quickly and may help the stomach make less acid. Here are some tips for healthy eating:
- Cabbage heals ulcer. Experiments carried out at Stanford University demonstrated the healing effect of cabbage juice on gastric and duodenal ulcers. The healing time for those ulcer patients who drank a glass of fresh cabbage juice (200-250ml) four or five times a day was shortened to two weeks. Their stomach pain also disappeared within a few days of beginning to drink this juice. Subsequent experiments have shown that smaller amounts of cabbage juice (from two table spoons to one-half glass) are equally effective.
- Enjoy a wide variety of foods. Choose whole grains, vegetables, fruit, low fat milk products, fish, meat and alternatives such as beans and lentils.
- Eat foods that contain soluble fiber. A diet that’s high in soluble fiber may prevent ulcers from coming back. Foods with soluble fiber include: lentils, beans, oats, barley, peanut butter, nuts, and some vegetables and fruit.
- Coffee, tea, or anything else that contains caffeine, or that seems to cause indigestion in the client or stimulates gastric secretion should be avoided.
- You do not have to eat a bland or boring diet, Spicy foods may be eaten as tolerated, but some people do find that spicy food and citrus fruit make their ulcer feel worse. Spicy foods include dishes prepared with chilies, cayenne, black pepper or hot peppers. Citrus fruit are oranges, lemons and grapefruits. You can avoid these foods if they cause any pain. If these foods don’t cause any symptoms, you can continue to eat them.
Ulcers may be painful, but can be treated quickly. The first step is to find out the cause of the ulcer. Next, follow your doctor’s advice to treat the pain, and remember that smoking and drinking alcohol may make your ulcer worse. Choose foods that are rich in fiber - from delicious whole grains, vegetables, beans and nuts - and your ulcer may not come back to bother you again.
If you have a peptic ulcer and would like to ask a Registered Dietitian a question, call +23408076187634 or send an email here.