Before you reach for a glass of milk to soothe your ulcer pain, consider this: Much of what we used to “know” about ulcers has been proven wrong. Most ulcers aren’t caused directly by stress but by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which is why ulcers today are often treated with antibiotics along with an acid suppressor. Find out which foods can aid in healing and preventing ulcers.
Cabbage can help prevent ulcers
Scientists think that it may be the amino acid glutamine that gives cabbage its anti-ulcer punch. Glutamine helps to fortify the mucosal lining of the gut and to improve blood flow to the stomach, meaning it not only helps prevent ulcers but can also speed healing of existing sores.
Recommended dose: Eat 2 cups of raw cabbage daily. Add it to salads, coleslaw, and wraps. You can also drink raw cabbage juice, sold in health food stores. Drink a quart a day for three weeks if—you can stand it!
Yogurt with active cultures can help prevent ulcers
Foods like yogurt and kefir (fermented milk) contain “good bacteria” that can inhibit H. pylori and may help ulcers heal faster. In one large study in Sweden, people who ate fermented milk products like yogurt at least three times a week were much less likely to have ulcers than people who ate yogurt less often.
Recommended dose: Have a cup of yogurt, kefir, or another fermented milk product with live, active cultures at least once a day. Avoid sweetened varieties, which are less effective.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other foods high in fibre can prevent ulcers
Add another star to fibre’s crown. Besides keeping you regular, fibre has a role in keeping ulcers at bay, especially those in the duodenum. A number of studies have found that people who eat high-fibre diets have a lower risk of developing ulcers. In the Physicians Health Study from Harvard, researchers looked at the diets of 47,806 men and found that those who ate 11 grams or more of fibre from vegetables had a 32 per cent lower risk of developing duodenal ulcers.
Scientists aren’t sure how fibre helps, but it may be thanks to the fact that it slows the emptying of the stomach and thus reduces the amount of time the stomach lining and duodenum are exposed to digestive acids. Soluble fibre, the kind found in oats, beans, barley, peas, and pears, also forms a slippery goo in the stomach that acts as a barrier between the stomach lining and corrosive stomach acids.
Recommended dose: General health guidelines suggest getting 25 to 35 grams of fibre a day.