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Foods to Avoid When You Have a Stomach Ulcer

author image Bethany Fong, R.D.
Bethany Fong is a registered dietitian and chef from Honolulu. She has produced a variety of health education materials and worked in wellness industries such as clinical dietetics, food service management and public health.
Foods to Avoid When You Have a Stomach Ulcer
A sensible diet can reduce symptoms of a stomach ulcer. Photo Credit Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images


Stomach ulcers are lesions in the stomach, esophagus and small intestine caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Heredity, age, history of chronic pain, alcohol use, diabetes, stress and smoking are all risk factors for developing stomach ulcers. Treatment requires antibiotics to kill the bacteria and antacids to reduce the acid in the digestive tract and promote healing and pain relief. There is no specific diet prescription for a stomach ulcer. However, certain foods can exacerbate symptoms of burning, pain, indigestion, gas, nausea and vomiting and therefore should be limited or avoided.

Coffee and Carbonated Beverages

Foods to Avoid When You Have a Stomach Ulcer
Coffee and carbonated beverages may worsen symptoms of a stomach ulcer. Photo Credit omgimages/iStock/Getty Images

According to a study in July 1991 from the "Medical Clinics of North America," caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and tea should be avoided because they stimulate acid production and can cause indigestion, especially in individuals with stomach ulcers. The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) also recommends avoiding carbonated beverages, such as soda, for the same reason.

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Foods to Avoid When You Have a Stomach Ulcer
Alcohol can trigger GERD and aggravate a stomach ulcer. Photo Credit Francesco Ridolfi/iStock/Getty Images

In an article published in December 2000 in the "American Journal of Gastroenterology", researchers confirmed that alcohol intake increases gastroesophageal reflex (GERD), which is known to aggravate stomach ulcers. Alcohol can irritate and erode the lining of the stomach and small intestine and should be avoided by individuals with stomach ulcers because of the potential for bleeding and inflammation.

Spicy and Acidic Foods

Foods to Avoid When You Have a Stomach Ulcer
Spicy foods may also increase discomfort in patients with stomach ulcers. Photo Credit tycoon751/iStock/Getty Images

Managing acid reflux is important because it is related to stomach ulcers. Avoid spicy foods, such as chilies, hot peppers and hot sauce. These foods can increase stomach acid, trigger acid reflux and worsen symptoms associated with stomach ulcers.

The 1991 study from the "Medical Clinics of North America" also determined that foods high in citric acid caused discomfort in some patients with stomach ulcers. Citric acid can be found in lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, pineapples, fruit juices, jams and jellies.

Other Foods

Foods to Avoid When You Have a Stomach Ulcer
Red meat, white bread and processed foods should be limited. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

In addition to coffee, alcohol and carbonated beverages, the UMMC recommends limiting refined foods, such as white bread, pasta and sugar; red meats; and trans fats found in commercially baked goods and processed foods. The organization encourages a diet high in fiber, dark leafy green vegetables, antioxidants, lean meats, healthy oils and 6 to 8 cups of water a day.

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