Gastritis, an inflammation or swelling of the stomach lining, can be a painful condition that is often caused by infection, drugs, stress or an autoimmune response. Treatment of gastritis is focused on treating the underlying cause and eliminating the irritant or offending substance. While diet and nutrition do not appear to play a significant role in preventing or managing gastritis, diet changes may help manage some of the discomfort associated with gastritis.
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Gastritis can cause upper abdominal discomfort or pain, and sometimes nausea, vomiting and stomach bleeding. However, some people have no symptoms. While there are no specific diet recommendations for gastritis, certain foods can also cause stomach discomfort, bloating or heartburn and could compound any pre-existing gastritis symptoms. It may take time to identify which -- if any -- foods are aggravating your symptoms, so it helps to keep a food and symptom diary. But simply put -- if you are able to tolerate a food without any discomfort or worsening of symptoms, then this food can be included in your diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients, relatively low in calories and can be a great source of fiber. If you have gastritis, you may tolerate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. In fact, you may find you can eat any type of fruit or vegetable without symptoms. While no fruits and vegetables are known to worsen gastritis, some people may find that spicy, acidic or gas-forming foods cause upper abdominal discomfort. So if you find, for example, that you have stomach pain or discomfort after eating spicy tomato sauce, acidic citrus fruit or common gas-forming foods such as broccoli or beans, you may need to cut any offending foods out of your diet.
Breads, grains and cereals are usually well tolerated and are also not expected to worsen gastritis symptoms. High fiber and unprocessed grains, such as brown rice, barley, quinoa and oatmeal are healthful choices and can help promote regular bowel movements. Other good choices insulin whole grain breads, tortillas and crackers as well as pasta, cornmeal and unsweetened breakfast cereals. Since fatty meals linger in the stomach longer, some people notice more indigestion or heartburn symptoms when eating high fat foods such as fried rice, pasta with cream sauce or fried bread products.
High Protein Foods
Most meat, poultry and fish are well tolerated. Opt for lower fat choices such as lean meats, skinless poultry, fish and eggs. Plant sources of protein are also excellent sources and can be a higher fiber and lower fat alternative to animal-based foods. Nuts, seeds, peanut butter, dried, cooked dried beans or lentils and soy products including edamame and tofu are examples of plant-based proteins.
Dairy products including milk, yogurt and cheese are often well tolerated foods and are not expected to worsen gastritis symptoms. However, it’s a good idea to select low-fat or fat-free varieties when possible. If you don’t tolerate milk products, or prefer to avoid dairy foods, you may opt to include plant milks such as calcium-fortified soy, rice or almond milk instead.
Water is an essential nutrient, and adequate fluids are important for proper function of the gastrointestinal tract, and to help the body eliminate waste. Water is the optimal beverage as it replenishes your body, is free of sweeteners and does not cause irritation. Most other beverages are also easy to tolerate, including fruit juice and herbal teas. Alcohol is not recommended if you have gastritis, as it can irritate the stomach lining. Caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee and black tea in moderate amounts may be acceptable, but avoid these if they worsen your symptoms.
Gastritis can be severe enough to cause ulcers or bleeding, so seek medical attention right away if you have shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness, paleness, or if you are vomiting blood or have blood in your stool. If you have problems tolerating many foods and are finding it difficult to eat well, your doctor may refer you to a dietitian for education and guidance.
- Merck Manual: Overview of Gastritis
- National Institute of Health: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Gastritis
- Krause's Food & the Nutrition Care Process; L. Kathleen Mahan and Janice L Raymond