If you've just been diagnosed with ulcers or have been living with them for years, you can usually find some simple home-remedy relief if you avoid foods that can irritate your condition. Watching your diet will require discipline. Here are some recommendations to help you take care of your digestive tract:
Go by gut reactions. Highly spiced and fried foods, long thought to be prime culprits in instigating ulcers, are now considered to have little bearing on either the development or course of an ulcer. However, they do bother some people who already have ulcers. If you find that spicy meals, for example, are always followed by a severe gnawing pain, assume that there may be a cause and effect. The same goes for any other food that seems to cause you discomfort.
Test your limits. An elimination diet can help you determine if any specific food triggers an increase in ulcer symptoms. An elimination diet involves avoiding frequently eaten and common food allergens for two or three weeks, then reintroducing them one by one, and taking note of which ones trigger symptoms.
Eat wisely. The real key to keeping gastric juices from attacking the lining of the digestive tract is to keep some food present as much of the time as possible. Try eating smaller meals more frequently. Don't overeat, though -- too much food causes formation of more gastric juices as well as weight gain. Simply spread your normal amount of calories over more and smaller meals. Snack on healthy treats, such as carrot sticks and whole-wheat crackers.
Up your fiber. People with ulcers should eat as many unrefined and high-fiber plant foods as possible. A diet rich in highly processed grains (such as white flour) deprives the body of fiber and protein, which can shield the digestive lining from stomach acid. Some high-fiber foods include spinach, cabbage, broccoli, and brussel sprouts.
Skip the milk solution. One of the earliest treatments for ulcer flare-ups was milk, which was believed to neutralize stomach acid. However, scientists now know that foods high in calcium increase stomach acid. So while the protein part of the milk may soothe, the calcium may make matters worse.
Drink lightly. The question of alcohol's impact on ulcer formation remains unanswered. Many medical experts believe that people who drink heavily are at higher risk of developing ulcers than those who drink lightly or not at all.
Give up the smoke screen. Although the results of research into the link between cigarette smoking and ulcers have been mixed, most medical authorities generally agree that there is a relationship between the two. Some believe smokers have double to risk of developing ulcers. Smoking increases stomach-acid secretion and inhibits the secretion of prostaglandins and sodium bicarbonate, substances naturally produced by the body that normally help protect the stomach lining (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also interfere with the secretion of prostaglandins). Smoking also decreases blood circulation to the stomach lining (as well as to other parts of the body), which may negatively affect the lining's ability to heal -- and smokers' relapse rate is higher than normal.
Work on ways to effectively control (and eliminate) stress. Take a stress-management course, learn to meditate, do yoga, or exercise regularly! Do whatever it takes to let go of stress.
Self-medicate with care. Ulcer sufferers are never far away from their antacids. But if you use these medications, do so with care. Without a doctor's supervision, you may under- or over-medicate. Not to mention overspending -- you may end up paying as much as you would for prescription drugs. The sidebar below offers some tips to help you self-medicate with care.
Ulcer patients also can find some relief by relaxing more and using herbal medicine. Learn about these alternative home remedies in the next section.
For more information on ulcer-causing stress and its harmful effects, visit the following:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- Among the many digestive problems that herbal remedies can relieve, herbs can also go a long way toward healing gastric ulcers. Find out how in Herbal Remedies for Ulcers.
- Curious about what causes stress? Visit How Stress Works.
- You can relieve some of stress' negative effects simply. For more information, read Home Remedies for Stress.
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