Eight out of 1,000 people have acute gastritis, and two out of 10,000 people have chronic gastritis (1).
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. It can be acute or chronic. Acute gastritis occurs suddenly, with severe pain that lasts for a little while. It is often temporary. On the other hand, chronic gastritis develops slowly and lasts for a long time. It causes a persistent dull pain that is hard to ignore (2). It may also lead to ulcers and cancer.
The good news is, you can treat and even reverse gastritis by making changes to your diet and lifestyle. In this article, we’ll discuss the gastritis diet plan, foods to eat and avoid, and recipes that can help in treating this condition. Start scrolling!
Table Of Contents
What is Gastritis?
Gastritis happens when the lining of the stomach gets inflamed, irritated, and swollen.
It is possible to treat mild cases of gastritis with medication and by making changes to your lifestyle. However, if the disease has advanced, completely curing it may not be possible. In that case, the focus of the treatment shifts to managing the symptoms. If a proper course of treatment is not pursued, gastritis can last for many years or even for life.
Some symptoms of gastritis are:
- An upset stomach
- Abdominal pain (mild or severe)
- Vomiting (blood or material that appears to be coffee grounds)
- Loss of appetite
- A burning feeling in the stomach
- Continuous hiccups
- Black stools (blood in stools)
Doctors can diagnose gastritis by:
- Examining a person’s symptoms and history
- Breath, stool, blood, immunological, and biopsy tests
- Endoscopy and radiologic studies
Let’s now understand what causes gastritis.
Causes Of Gastritis
1. Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) Bacteria
H. pylori is the most common cause of gastritis all over the world – but especially rampant in developing countries. Many become infected during their childhood; however, not everyone shows symptoms of the disease.
H. pylori can cause both acute and chronic gastritis. However, the infection is seldom associated with erosive gastritis. Many researchers believe that H. pylori spread through bodily fluids like saliva as well as infected food and water.
These bacteria live in the mucus lining of the stomach. If not treated in time, the infection can cause ulcers, and, in very rare cases, stomach cancer (3).
2. Autoimmune Disease
Some people have an inherited autoimmune disease that attacks the parietal cells, which are cells of the stomach wall that secrete gastric acid.
When the parietal cells are attacked, it results in hypochlorhydria (low or no production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and other digestive organs) and decreased production of intrinsic factor (IF) (a protein that is required by the body to absorb vitamin B12).
This can lead to autoimmune metaplastic atrophic gastritis. It also increases the risk of gastric adenocarcinoma.
When the stomach fails to produce IF, it can lead to a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the body. This condition is referred to as pernicious anemia (4). It is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues.
In a healthy body, vitamin B12 binds to IF in the stomach, which facilitates its absorption. However, due to the malfunction, another autoimmune reaction also occurs, resulting in the inflammation of the stomach lining, causing gastritis (5).
3. Major Injury Or Illness
Any major stress on the body, such as a critical illness, traumatic injury, severe burn, or a major surgery can lead to gastritis. Though rare, it can even cause mucosal erosions and superficial hemorrhages, which can be fatal (6).
Stress-induced gastritis is also called stress ulcer syndrome, stress-related erosive syndrome, and stress-related mucosal disease.
4. Damage To The Stomach Lining
The lining of the stomach contains glands that secrete stomach acid that breaks food down and pepsin, an enzyme that digests protein. A healthy body has a thick layer of mucus that coats the entire stomach lining and prevents the acidic juices from damaging the stomach tissue. However, when the stomach lining gets inflamed, it produces less mucus and other fluids that generally protect the lining, resulting in gastritis.
It can be both non-erosive or erosive. The former can cause inflammation on the lining, leading to mild discomfort and pain, whereas, the latter can cause the lining to tear down, causing shallow breaks in the tissues, or ulcers.
5. Food Allergies
Gastritis can be caused by allergic hypersensitivity to certain foods as well as overaccumulation of white blood cells, also known as eosinophils, in the gastrointestinal tract (7).
Many people find relief from the symptoms of gastritis by eliminating highly processed carbohydrates, such as processed foods, sodas, coffee, sweets, and alcohol, as well as foods that contain trans fats from their diet. Other foods that may cause gastritis symptoms to flare up in some people include dairy, eggs, yeast, soy, corn, nuts, grains, and certain spicy food.
Gastritis may also occur in people who have been exposed to radiation or take a large number of medications (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, steroids, potassium supplements, and iron supplements), smoke, drink alcohol excessively, or use drugs. Older people are more susceptible to the disease.
As discussed earlier, the best way to tackle gastritis is to make changes to your diet. Scroll down to the next section for more information.
Gastritis Diet: How It Helps
The primary aim of the gastritis diet is to control the growth of H. pylori. Following a fiber-rich, anti-inflammatory diet and consuming foods that contain flavonoids can help a lot in alleviating the symptoms.
Also, opting for a diet rich in probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, can go a long way in relieving symptoms of gastritis. These species of beneficial bacteria colonize the lining of the intestinal tract, healing the digestive system. They also increase the gut’s capacity to absorb nutrients.
People who have gastritis should also eat foods that are high in vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for tissue repair and facilitates the healthy functioning of mucus membranes.
Another aspect of this diet is avoiding foods that exacerbate the gastritis symptoms. Some foods are known to cause inflammation – such as processed foods and sugar. Avoiding them and following a food elimination process can go a long way in controlling gastritis.
What Foods To Eat
While taking antacids or other drugs to reduce stomach acid helps to ease the symptoms, overmedication can lead to issues like osteoporosis or hypochlorhydria. They may mask the problem, but they definitely won’t cure it. Instead, following a gastritis diet can facilitate the healing of your gut naturally. Here is a list of foods that have been proven to help people with gastritis:
According to a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, broccoli sprouts are great for minimizing the symptoms of gastritis (8). They contain sulforaphane, a chemical that has antibacterial properties. They also provide anticancer benefits. The study stated that those who ate at least one cup of broccoli sprouts per day over eight weeks had less stomach inflammation than those who did not.
Raw garlic is an effective antimicrobial and antifungal agent that effectively kills H. pylori bacteria, making it an excellent remedy for gastritis. It is often prescribed along with medicines for the treatment of gastritis (9).
3. Yogurt And Curd
Yogurt and curd contain active cultures of good bacteria, which increase the body’s ability to eliminate the bad bacteria present in the stomach. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming a cup of yogurt containing probiotics daily along with multiple antibiotics can effectively control H. pylori (10). The study showed that the eradication of H. pylori was faster in participants who were given both yogurt and medications as compared to those who only took medications.
Whole milk kefir contains Bifidobacterium bifidum, which are beneficial bacteria that are present in fermented milk products. It facilitates the better working of the immune response system and is used as a remedy for gastritis and inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders. According to a study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, B. bifidum showed almost 95% inhibition of H. pylori (11).
Sauerkraut is made by fermenting cabbage. The process of fermentation promotes the growth of probiotics, which are beneficial for those who have gastritis. A study showed that L. plantarum extracted from sauerkraut had an anti-Helicobacter activity (12). They also make foods more digestible, which increases the gut’s ability to absorb minerals and vitamins better. People who have gastritis should include sauerkraut in their diet.
Ginger is a known anti-inflammatory agent. A study published in Phytotherapy Research showed that ginger was effective in eliminating H. pylori from the stomach. Ginger was also found to be effective in preventing gastric ulcers induced by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and H. pylori in laboratory animals (13).
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apples. It is an effective drink for relieving acid reflux and heartburn, and other symptoms of gastritis. However, a word of caution – it may make acid reflux worse for some individuals. Consume it highly diluted unless you are sure you can tolerate it – or you may have a bad case of acid reflux.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin. A study found that curcumin can be a useful supplement in improving inflammation and preventing carcinogenic changes in patients who had gastritis caused by H. pylori (14). However, exercise caution as curcumin was found to cause gastritis in a few cases, when taken on an empty stomach. Hence, it is better to consult your doctor.
Consuming oregano leaves and oil may help in alleviating gastritis pain and other symptoms. The best thing about oregano is that that bacteria, fungi, and viruses find it difficult to develop a resistance to it, which is not always the case with pharmaceutical antibiotics. Studies suggest that the antimicrobial effects of oregano can inhibit and kill H.pylori (15). It has anti-spasmodic properties that relieve nausea and vomiting as well as indigestion and diarrhea – which may be a side effect of antibiotics doctors may have prescribed for treating gastritis. Make sure your doctor is aware that you want to consume oregano as it may react with any other drugs you are taking.
10. Cranberry Juice
Studies show that cranberry inhibits the growth of H. pylori in the stomach (16). You should consume cranberry as well as other foods that contain flavonoids if you have gastritis. Flavonoids are known to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria in the stomach. However, if you want to juice the fruit, be informed that cranberry does contain citric acid, so if your stomach is sensitive to acidic foods, talk to your doctor about other ways to include cranberry in your diet.
This is another fruit that may either affect you positively or increase your acid refluxes, depending on your tolerance and sensitivity. The bromelain in pineapples has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, and anticancer properties (17). Although it is an acidic food, a few experts believe that it alkalizes the stomach during digestion. This may help with gastritis symptoms. Bromelain also has pain-relieving effects, which may be the reason people experience relief after consuming it.
12. Beet Juice And/Or Carrot Juice
Consuming beetroots and carrots or the juice was shown to be beneficial in eradicating H. pylori (18). The vitamin A present in carrot juice may help prevent the breakdown of the gastric mucosa. Add a glass of beet juice or carrot juice to your diet. You can also consume mixed fruit juice with a 1:1 beet and carrot ratio.
13. Green Tea
Green tea goes a long way in keeping gastritis at bay. It has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibacterial properties. According to a study by the UCLA School of Public Health and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA, green tea contains antioxidants that inhibit the development of chronic gastritis (19). Another tea that people with gastritis also consume is chamomile tea.
People have been drinking raw potato juice for treating acute and chronic gastritis symptoms for a long time. According to a study published by the University of Manchester, potato extracts showed anti-H. pylori activity (20).
15. Natural Honey
Honey contains many exceptional compounds that reduce inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and facilitate the healing of ulcers that occur on the mucus membrane. It also exhibits antibacterial activity against H. pylori and can help in treating gastritis (21).
Let’s now take a look at the foods to avoid if you have gastritis.
Foods To Avoid
Any dairy product – such as milk, cheese, cream (other than organic yogurt) – due to its calcium and amino acid content, can increase stomach acid. This, in turn, increases acid refluxes. Milk does help coat the lining of the stomach, providing temporary relief by buffering the acids being released. But the process is not long enough to lessen the amount of acid effectively. The acid production may even increase afterward, causing major discomfort.
2. Citrus Fruits And Juices
Citrus fruits and juices contain vitamin C, which prevents the formation of ulcers. It scavenges free radicals and prevents inflammation, particularly caused by H. pylori. However, you should consume it during the initial stages of the disease or make it a regular part of your diet. If you already have gastritis, the acid in citrus fruits may irritate the stomach lining and increase acid reflux and stomach pain. Therefore, stay away from citrus fruits and juices if you have chronic gastritis.
Foods that are acidic, like tomatoes, irritate the stomach lining and may cause ulcers if you have gastritis. The best thing to do would be to try eliminating all acidic foods and then adding them back over time to see which ones affect your stomach. Many people find that eating tomatoes worsens the symptoms of gastritis and increases stomach ache.
4. Fermented Soy
High intake of fermented soy products was found to increase the risk of gastric cancer (22). Hence, avoid fermented soy products like natto, miso, and tempeh if you have gastritis.
Whether alcohol causes gastritis or not is a much-debated topic. But, in reality, alcohol affects the entire gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach. It destroys the stomach lining, leaving it unprotected against corrosive acids like hydrochloric acid that is secreted by the stomach to digest food. This acid can corrode through the stomach if the mucous lining is not intact.
Thankfully, alcohol-related gastritis generally gets healed once the person stops drinking. Continuing to drink can lead to the formation of ulcers or stomach cancer. In a study, 100% of test participants who had a history of chronic drinking had inflamed gastric mucosal lining (23). This atrophic gastritis was only found in people who had alcohol addiction, not occasional drinkers.
6. Spicy Food
Spicy foods don’t cause gastritis, but consuming them if you have gastritis can make the symptoms worse. They irritate the lining of the stomach, which is inflamed if you have gastritis. Avoid foods that have chili powder, garlic powder, black and red pepper, hot peppers, and other hot spices.
The cellulose content in corn is high, which can cause significant gastrointestinal issues. The human digestive tract cannot break down cellulose, and it passes right through the system undigested. It may even remain in the stomach and rot, creating a breeding ground for bad bacteria. Hence, it is better to steer clear of corn and related products if you have gastritis.
Grains and starches like wheat, wheat germ, rye, barley, farina, graham flour, kamut matzo, bulgur, couscous, semolina, spelt, and triticale contain gluten, which is known to cause stomach issues in many people. It also causes inflammation in the stomach and intestines. People who have gluten sensitivity may find relief from gastritis when they shift to a completely gluten-free diet.
9. Processed Foods
Highly processed foods, such as burgers, ready to eat meals, and store-bought deep-fried foods can cause bouts of stomach pain caused due to acute gastritis. Also, these foods create an acidic environment in the stomach, which is very detrimental to people having gastritis.
Sweets can irritate the gastric mucosa. They contain sugar, which facilitates the growth of bad bacteria in the stomach by creating a favorable environment for them inside the stomach.
When we consume sugar, enzymes in the small intestine break it down, and it gets absorbed into the bloodstream immediately. These enzymes are secreted by the pancreas. Unfortunately, if the pancreas is not able to produce enough enzymes to help break down a large amount of sugar, it can wreck the bacterial balance. Bacterial overgrowth can disrupt proper nutrient absorption and cause gas, bloating, and increased acidity in the gut.
Drinking soda excessively or regularly can irritate your stomach lining and esophagus, causing acid reflux, which is a symptom of gastritis. Soda doesn’t contain any nutrients and may further irritate your stomach lining. People used to drink flat soda to ease stomach discomfort. However, this will only provide temporary relief and cause more harm than good in the long run.
Coffee, whether caffeinated or decaffeinated, has a huge impact on the digestive system. It creates a highly acidic environment in the stomach, which, as we know, damages the lining of the stomach as well as intestines. If you drink a large amount of coffee over a long period, it can worsen gastritis symptoms and increase acid reflux. It also affects digestion, which can cause abdominal pain.
13. Energy Drinks
Energy drinks have high amounts of caffeine in them, and when consumed excessively, cause digestive issues. These drinks cause inflammation, bleeding, pain, and ulcers in the stomach. This happens because the caffeine in the drinks increases the production of stomach acids, which, in turn, results in heartburn. It also irritates the lining of the gut. Make sure never to consume more than one can per day even if you are completely healthy.
14. Foods With Trans Fats
Foods high in bad fats increase inflammation in your gut and stomach. There are two types of trans fats – naturally occurring (produced in the gut of some animals, hence present in animal products) and artificial trans fats, which is the addition of hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils during the industrial process to make them more solid.
But, dairy and meat eaters don’t have to be concerned – in moderate amounts, natural trans fats are acceptable. However, trans fats in fried and processed foods wreak havoc on the digestive system. Steer clear of foods like cakes, cookies, crackers, onion rings, French fries, donuts, and margarine.
Now that you know what foods to eat and avoid if you have gastritis, here are a few recipes you can try that are not only delicious but also healthy.
Recipes For Gastritis
1. Chicken Barley Soup
Nutrition Information: Energy – 235 Kcal; Protein – 22 g; Fat – 2 g; Fiber – 6 g
- Cooked pearl barley – 80g
- Chicken breast pieces – 85g
- Chopped carrot – 50g
- Chopped broccoli – 44g
- Salt – 0.4g
- Boil the chicken in a pot.
- Add the barley, carrot, and broccoli.
- Reduce the heat, and cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add salt.
2. Rice And Vegetable Khichdi
Nutrition Information: Energy – 286 Kcal; Protein – 11.62 g; Fat – 10.42 g; Fiber – 6.5 g
- Cooked rice – 75 g
- Soaked green beans – 13 g
- Raw peanuts – 15 g
- Chopped carrots – 50 g
- Chopped cauliflower – 50 g
- Salt – 0.5 g
- Stir fry the green beans, peanut, carrots, and cauliflower in olive oil. Keep them aside.
- Add half a cup of water to the rice and bring it to a boil. Stir until the rice gets soft.
- Add the veggies and salt.
3. Banana And Yogurt Smoothie
Nutrition Information: Energy – 300 kcal; Protein – 20 g; Fat – 4.5 g; Fiber – 4 g
- Organic yogurt – 100 g
- Bananas – 1-2
- Honey – 20 g
- Almonds – 3-5 (Optional)
- Put all the ingredients in the blender. Add ice if needed.
- Blend and serve.
If gastritis is left untreated, it may lead to stomach ulcers, bleeding, or even stomach cancer. Extensive thinning of the stomach lining is irreparable as it changes the cells in the stomach lining. Consult a good doctor and follow a very clean diet for gastritis. It is very important to take care of yourself in the initial stages when the symptoms start to show. A healthy gut is the building block of a healthy, happy body.
If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does gastritis cause ulcers?
Yes, it does. Eight out of 10 peptic ulcers (stomach ulcers) are linked to H. pylori infection, which also causes gastritis.
Can gastritis cause weight loss?
Yes. Gastritis pain can be aggravated by the ingestion of food. Many people with gastritis lose weight because they avoid eating anything to avoid the pain and burning sensation associated with it.
Is banana good for gastritis?
Bananas are great for those with gastritis. They are easily digestible and rich in potassium. They fit in perfectly in the bland gastritis diet. Bananas coat the stomach with thick mucus, protecting against stomach acids. Eating bananas regularly restores gastric pH, facilitates the elimination of harmful bacteria, and restores the bacterial balance in the stomach. If you have gastritis, eat bananas before consuming other solid foods.
Does gastritis make you tired?
Gastritis can cause erosion of the stomach lining. It can result in painful ulcers and bleeding in the stomach. This results in anemia, which can lead to tiredness and fatigue.
When should I go to the doctor for gastritis?
As soon as you experience discomfort. Gastritis is very painful and should be treated as soon as possible. Once the lining is completely damaged, it’s nearly impossible to reverse the disease.
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