the truth about ulcers
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
The reality is severe - peptic ulcers affect 4.5 million americans annually and it is estimated that about 10% of americans will develop an ulcer in their lifetime. Typically, ulcers can be healed through nutrition and medication, however approximately 6,000 people die of ulcers each year.
A gastric ulcer is a painful condition caused when gastric juice - the acid of the stomach - has burned a hole in the stomach lining. It is a very painful condition. In a healthy stomach, gastric juice is so acidic that it would actually burn your skin if you spilled some on it.
A healthy stomach has a mucous layer which coats and protects it from the stomach acid it needs to generate in order break down and split proteins and begin the process of digestion. The mucous layer is a barrier to keep the acid from harming our esophagus, stomach or the top portion of our small intestine, called the duodenum. There is a built in mechanism that releases bicarbonate (think baking soda) once our food passes from the stomach to the small intestine, to alkalize it so that the small intestine will not be harmed from the it's acidity.
When the acid eats through the mucous layer, an ulcer forms. An ulcer in the stomach is called a gastric ulcer, in the small intestine it is called a duodenal ulcer.
A popular misconception is that ulcers are brought on by anxiety, stress or lifestyle. But while stress and anxiety magnify the symptoms of ulcers, they do not cause them. The vast majority of ulcers - upwards of 80% - are caused by a bacteria called H. Pylori.
Since H. Pylori is a bacteria, its presence in the body causes an immune response and inflammation. It can also cause leaky gut along with other complications and diseases.
Aproximately ten percent of all ulcers are caused by long-term or over use of NSAID medications.
NSAIDs are Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs like:
Ibuprofin (Advil, Motrin)
Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox)
So, how do I know if I have an ulcer? The most common indication for many people is a burning sensation in the stomach. Often this burning feeling comes between meals.
If you have these symptoms, you may have an ulcer:
Burning stomach pain - often occurs hours after eating
Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching
Fatty food intolerance
What do I if I have an ulcer?
If you suss you have an ulcer it is important to seek medical treatment. But you can also talk to your doctor about alternative methods of care. Research shows that there are many foods that not only benefit digestive health and also help prevent ulcers. Fermented foods - when eaten in their raw state - bring in beneficial microbes that have anti-pylori effects. For example research shows that yogurt eaten once a week or more has shown a protective role against H. Pylori in Mexican populations (Ornelas et al., 2007) Additionally strains of probiotics from sauerkraut - fermented cabbage - shows an anti-Helicobacteractivity (Rokka et al., 2006). Cabbage is a long standing traditional remedy for heartburn and healing ulcers. Doctors reportedly used it before prescription medications were available to help heal ulcers. Kefir, a fermented milk or coconut milk drink has similar effects. Kombucha tea has demonstrated the ability to inhibit the growth of pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori.
Ulcer Prevention is your best option against an ulcer... better to prevent one than treat one.
Fermented Beverages like kefir from milk or coconut milk and kombucha tea. The probiotics in these drinks are healthy and will fight for your intestinal health.
Fermented Vegetables these are living foods with health benefits that will boost your immune system, feed your intestinal lining, provide fiber and protect you from harmful bacteria and other pathogens.
Yogurt eaten daily has been shown to lower H. Pylori populations in the gut
Green Tea has amazing antibiotic properties. It also contains catechins - the main antioxidant compound in green tea. Both are shown to inhibit H. Pylori growth.
Cruciferous Vegetables especially broccoli have been shown to inhibit the growth of H. Pylori populations in the gut. 50 H. pylori—infected individuals were enrolled in a clinical trial. 25 of the participants were assigned to eat 100 grams of fresh broccoli sprouts each day for two months, and the other 25 were assigned to eat the same amount of alfalfa sprouts. After two months, a significant decrease in the amount of H.Pylori was evident in the population consuming broccoli sprouts, but not in the group eating the alfalfa sprouts.
Developing an ulcer is a painful experience that left untreated can have serious consequences. If you have an ulcer, it is important to consult with a physician. Alongside treatment there are foods you can incorporate into your diet which can alleviate pain and promote healing:
Cabbage Juice is an age old remedy for ulcers. Drinking one quart daily is optimal. Research shows that participants for ulcer relief drinking cabbage juice for duodenal and peptic ulcers health up to 4 to 6 times faster than those on conventional treatment.
Cranberry Juice has researched backed properties that help resolve H. Pylori
Aloe Vera is anti-inflammatory, soothing and promotes healing. It has been approved by the FDA for use in oral ulcers.
Licorice - as DGL licorice - has healing properties that promotes healing the mucous lining of the stomach as well as promoting an environment that is not hospitable for H. Pylori to thrive.
Mastic Gum is an ingredient in Mediterranean cooking. It is also known as Gum Arabic, Yemen Gum and tears of Chios. It comes from the Mastic tree and has long been used for its medicinal properties. In a study of 38 patients suffering from ulcers consumed 1 gram of mastic gum daily that led to a 30% reduction of symptoms compared with the placebo group. Additionally, at the end of the two week study, 70% of the ulcers were healed in the group consuming the mastic as compared with only 20% in the placebo population.
Drink Bone Broth and Homemade Chicken Stock Throughout history the natural properties of gelatin found in homemade stock have been used to heal gastrointestinal issues. Up until the 20th century, the gelatin which makes stock congeal, was considered a functional food and medicine to heal an array of disorders including peptic ulcers.
The bottom line is that ulcers cause a lot of discomfort and gastrointestinal distress. Natural fermented foods, cruciferous vegetables and green tea may help prevent ulcers. If you have an ulcers there are natural remedies that can help alleviate the pain along with consulting a physician for treatment options if you have an ulcer.
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