You can experience stomach inflammation — also known as gastritis — for many reasons, ranging from overindulging in spicy foods or booze to stress to bacteria.
Most nonbacterial cases of gastritis can be easily treated with the use of antacids and a few days of a bland diet. If you develop more serious symptoms, do not hesitate to consult your health care provider.
Understand Stomach Inflammation
Before you can discuss gastritis treatment with your health care provider, you will need help in finding the cause of the condition. There are several ways to identify the problem, the Mayo Clinic says.
These can include a breath or blood test for the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, an X-ray of your upper digestive system or an endoscopy, which involves you swallowing a teeny little camera to take a look at your esophagus, your stomach lining and your small intestine, explain the experts at the Medical University of South Carolina.
If your physician sees any inflammation or ulcers, a small tissue sample might be taken to provide further knowledge of what is causing the inflammation so you and your doctor can figure out the best way to treat it, reassures the Mayo Clinic.
Know When to Be Concerned
Not all gastritis is caused by stress or whatever you are eating and drinking. Another cause of gastritis is the aforementioned H. pylori bacteria. These bacteria, according to the experts at the UCDavis Health, are incredibly adaptive.
The bacteria, explains UCDavis, adhere to the mucosal lining of your stomach. They have adapted so well that when mucosal cells are about to be sloughed off your stomach lining, the H. pylori bacteria simply jump to newer mucosal cells, avoiding that plunge into the chemical bath that would kill them.
An untreated H. pylori infection can lead to the development of gastric ulcers. Even more concerning, cautions UCDavis, is that chronic H. pylori that is left untreated can develop into one of the fastest-moving and deadliest cancers: Gastric cancer, UCDavis explains, is very hard to treat, moves quickly and kills 1 million people worldwide every year.
Limit the Dairy
Even though H. pylori must be treated medicinally, milder cases of gastritis can usually be addressed through dietary changes. While it might seem intuitive to increase your intake of dairy because milk is so soothing to the stomach, this is a mistake according to the experts at the Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center (OSU).
Milk can decrease the amount of stomach acid you produce, so limit yourself to no more than 2 to 3 cups of milk in a day, OSU advises. Other foods and beverages to avoid include:
- Black pepper
- Chili powder
- Decaffeinated beverages
- Red pepper
Choose Your Carbohydrates
If you are hoping to use a gastritis home remedy to ease your symptoms, the best place to start is with your diet. Contrary to what some nutrition experts might advise, when you need to eat a bland diet, foods that are lower in fiber are better for you, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine's website MedlinePlus. This means you should choose white rice as well as breads and pastas made from bleached white flour.
Fiber can increase stomach inflammation because high-fiber foods can cause gas and bloating, MedlinePlus reminds you. Even foods that contain soluble fiber should either be avoided or eaten in very small quantities. Have fruit juices instead of fresh fruits, and avoid the more acidic ones such as orange and grapefruit juice.
Evaluate Your Vegetables
Eating a bland diet to avoid causing stomach inflammation does not mean that your diet has to be boring, say the experts at Harvard Health Publishing, especially when it comes to your vegetables. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, squash and sweet potatoes caramelize and become very mild and sweet when they are roasted, Harvard points out.
Also consider using fresh herbs rather than dried ones for seasoning — they are milder and less concentrated, because they have not been dehydrated, Harvard advises. Certain vegetables might also be easier on your stomach eaten raw, Harvard says, such as tomatoes.
Avoid heavy sauces as well. Full-fat dairy ingredients, such as cream, can irritate your stomach lining, so opt for lighter sauces such as pesto or olive oil infused with fresh herbs. The key is to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to help it heal without getting bored and reaching for problematic foods.
Forgo Bad Fats
Most fats will not harm your stomach lining on their own, but it is best to avoid fatty fried foods because they are hard to digest. Another type of fat to avoid, advises the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the kind of artificial trans fats found in processed foods such as cakes, pastries, crackers, cookies — and almost any other food that is designed to have a long shelf life without refrigeration.
Trans-fats are emulsifiers that help keep oils stable so that they do not spoil. These fats also improve the texture of baked goods. The downside of this, explains the NIH, is that these emulsifiers are not good for the healthy and active bacteria that your gut needs to properly digest foods.
A lack of healthy gut bacteria, cautions the NIH, can contribute to inflammatory diseases. Having an unhealthy balance of gut bacteria can not only affect your digestion and elimination, the NIH says, but it can also contribute to conditions as varied as Type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colon cancer and obesity. A compromised gut also has an effect on your immune system, the NIH explains, which means you may find that your allergy and asthma symptoms are worse.
- Cedars-Sinai: "Gastritis"
- Medical University of South Carolina: "Gastritis"
- UCDavis Health: "How H. pylori Thrives in Highly Acidic Stomach"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gastritis"
- MedlinePlus: "Bland Diet"
- Ohio State University: Wexner Medical Center: "Avoiding Gastric Stimulants"
- National Institutes of Health: "Keeping Your Gut in Check"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "What to Eat When You Have Chronic Heartburn"