A peptic ulcer describes an open sore anywhere along the digestive tract, but most commonly in the upper portion of the small intestine. Although some ulcers result from stress and diet, more than half occur as a result of an infection with a bacteria known as H. pylori, according to the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse. 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.
One of the most common symptoms of an ulcer is a burning or gnawing sensation that often feels worse between meals. Milk and other dairy products, such as yogurt, coat the lining of the stomach. Because this seems to sooth the ulcer, many believe that drinking milk is one way to help cure an ulcer. On the contrary, milk stimulates the stomach to increase acid production, leading to an increase in ulcer irritation. If you have an ulcer, you should refrain from drinking milk and eating other dairy products as it can delay the healing of your ulcer.
The link between spicy foods and ulcers is still not clear and the reaction from one patient to another varies. Some patients suffering from a peptic ulcer find their symptom of pain worsens after eating a meal containing spicy foods. The foods most likely to affect your ulcer include those with significant amounts of black pepper, chili powder, mustard seed or nutmeg, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. If you experience increased discomfort following a meal that contains a specific type of spice, avoid those spicy foods until your ulcer has had a chance to heal.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical substance found in beverages, such as coffee, tea and sodas, as well as foods such as chocolate. Doctors classify caffeine as a stimulant because it stimulates the nervous system making you more alert and aware. Caffeine also stimulates acid production in the stomach and can, therefore, irritate your ulcer symptoms. To promote ulcer healing, refrain from eating and drinking foods and beverages that contain caffeine.
Fiber is the portion of a plant-based food that the enzymes in the intestines cannot break down. Eating a diet rich in fiber promotes a healthy digestive tract and can help reduce the risk of developing an ulcer and promote healing of an active ulcer. To consume a high fiber diet, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. The National Institutes of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board recommends adult men consume 30 to 38 g of fiber and adult women consume 21 to 25 g of fiber per day, depending on age, for a healthy digestive system and to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: What I Need to Know About Peptic Ulcers
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: H. pylori and Peptic Ulcer
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Ulcers – What You Can Do To Heal Your Ulcer
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Peptic Ulcer Disease
- National Institutes of Medicine: Food and Nutrition Board: Dietary Reference Intakes