Gastritis is an acute or chronic condition where the stomach lining becomes inflamed causing stomach upset and pain. Acute conditions happen suddenly and worsen quickly while chronic conditions develop slowly or get worse over time. Acute gastritis may become a chronic condition if not treated properly. While the right diet cannot prevent gastritis, avoiding certain foods may reduce the discomfort associated with gastritis, reduce the likelihood of future episodes and help prevent additional complications.
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Acute gastritis is marked by the sudden onset of stomach pain, nausea, indigestion, heartburn, hiccups, decreased or absent appetite, passing dark stool and possibly vomiting. However, many people with gastritis do not show any symptoms. Gastritis can be categorized as erosive or nonerosive, depending on its effect on the stomach lining. The most common causes of gastritis is infection, caused by the Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, bacteria or prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Alcohol is also a common cause of erosive gastritis.
What to Eat
Gastritis symptoms can be helped by consuming fiber-rich foods such as beans, bran, corn, potatoes, figs, oatmeal and peas, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other foods such as apples, celery, cranberries, onions and garlic contain flavonoids, which may help stop the growth of H. pylori. Usually antibiotics are given to treat H. pylori, however, probiotics are an alternative according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Probiotics, which can be taken as a supplement for a more concentrated dose, are also found in yogurt and acidophilus milk and long-term use could reduce the risk of developing gastric inflammation disorders.
What to Avoid
Acute gastritis caused by an H. pylori infection cannot always be avoided. However, the right diet can help reduce your symptoms. In fact, what you don't eat may be more important than what you do eat. Triggers can be individual, so it is best to pay attention to your diet so you can limit or avoid the foods causing you irritation. Generally you should avoid spicy, acidic, fried or fatty foods and alcoholic beverages.High-fat foods in particular have been found to increase inflammation in the stomach lining. Finally, avoid aspirin or ibuprofen as they can cause inflammation or make existing irritation worse.
To prevent flare-ups, the Mayo Clinic suggests smaller meals and avoiding foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruit that increase stomach acid. Lifestyle changes that reduce stress may also be beneficial. If you have another condition that requires you to take pain relievers often, switch to acetaminophen. Remember, anything you eat, including medicine, is part of your diet.
See your doctor right away if you think you may have gastritis. While a good diet may reduce your risk of gastritis or alleviate the symptoms of acute gastritis, foods including probiotic supplements, should not be used as an alternative to the care or medications ordered by your doctor.