All About the Ulcer Diet

When you have an ulcer, your doctor will most likely recommend an ulcer diet to help keep your conditioning from worsening. Everyone’s stomach is different so you might have to experiment at first with different foods to figure out the best ulcer diet for you. Generally speaking, eating hot, spicy foods will cause an ulcer to act up, while bland foods are key to the least stomach problems.

An ulcer diet can be used by anyone with stomach problems. Whether you already have an ulcer or are developing an ulcer, or you have trouble with gas or nausea, you should give a new diet a try to see if you can eliminate some of the discomfort and avoid needing surgery to correct the problem.

The key to an ulcer diet is not just eating bland foods, but also eating the right amounts in each of the food groups so that you have a balanced diet. Unlike diabetics who are encouraged to eat as many as six small meals every day, people who have ulcers should not eat more than three. That’s because every time you eat, acid is produced in your stomach, and acid is what is makes your ulcer act up.

Many people believe that milk can help an ulcer and so they consume a higher amount of milk and dairy products than normal. This thinking is actually a fallacy. Milk actually increases the amount of acid in your stomach which is exactly what an ulcer diet is trying to decrease. Up to three servings of milk each day are okay as long as you drink low-fat or no-fat milk. Fat also increases stomach acids.

Ulcers are a very common problem so many people know the basics of an ulcer diet from talking with friends and relatives who have an ulcer. An ulcer diet consists of no hot peppers, red or black peppers, hot chili, or foods flavored with chili powder. Alcohol is a no-no, as are any foods with caffeine, whether it be coffee, colas, teas, or chocolate. Those new high energy sports drinks that can have over 300 mg of caffeine could be particularly dangerous to people with ulcers.

Any food that is very acidic should be limited or eliminated from an ulcer diet. At the top of the list are tomatoes and tomato products, orange or grapefruit juices, and fatty meats. Unfortunately, the very foods recommended for a healthy, nutritious diet are ones which can really cause stomach pain for people who have ulcers. This includes whole grains, peas, most types of beans, and fruits with peels. Most of the vitamins are in the peels of fruit--an apple is a great example, so if you do have an ulcer or other stomach problems that preclude eating fruit peels, you will want to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals even if it means taking a supplement.
Sometimes vegetables in the cabbage and broccoli family are off limits for people with ulcers. So are onions. With all of these foods, you need to see how much you can eat. Some people with ulcers can eat a limited amount of acidic foods while others cannot tolerate even minimal amounts. Drinks such as caffeine-free colas, apple juice, and a few of the milder herbal teas can be helpful.

An ulcer diet should have what is considered the normal amount of carbohydrates, which is six to ten servings per day. These are what are considered the blandest of foods such as dry cereal, bread, spaghetti, macaroni, or crackers. You can add to that berries, pears, apples and other non-acidic fruits, along with low-fat milk and cheeses.

Turkey, chicken, and fish are excellent choices on an ulcer diet but you will want to stay away from foods like sausage or barbecue ribs. French fries are also bad ideas as are foods that are highly seasoned. Soups like lentil and tomato should be avoided but other soups, such as those with vegetables, are permissible.

The whole point of an ulcer diet is to limit stomach acids which will eat away at the ulcer. It usually just takes a little common sense to decide if a food might be good for your ulcer or not. For instance, horseradish is not going to cause a fun reaction and most nuts are not recommended. You also should not be ordering pizzas with toppings like pepperoni, sausage, onions and peppers.


What is an ulcer?

An ulcer is a sore, but it is not on the outside of the body. It is usually around an inch or two inches long and it is located in the lining of the stomach. These are sometimes called gastric ulcers. However, an ulcer can also be situated in the beginning of the small intestine, which is called the duodenum or in the esophagus. These are referred to as duodenal and esophageal ulcers, respectively.

The most common term used to describe any type of stomach or duodenum ulcer is peptic ulcer. What happens is that the stomach starts the digestive process by mashing the food you eat and mixing it with pepsin and hydrochloric acid. If there is damage or a hole where these acids can enter the stomach lining, they get inside of it making a sore, and every time you eat an acidic food they make the hole larger.

An ulcer is painful, particularly when there is an abundance of acid in the stomach. If you have an ulcer and you let it go untreated, it can eat through the wall of the stomach and enter blood vessels. This is called a bleeding ulcer. If the ulcer completely eats through the wall of the stomach and then bacteria and inflammation set in, you could get very ill and even die. This is known as a perforated ulcer. (continued...)