Gastritis, or the inflammation of the stomach lining, is a very common condition, but it may not always be detected. That’s because it hardly shows symptoms. But sometimes, you may experience appetite loss, vomiting, nausea, belching, bloating, and abdominal pain for a prolonged period of time. In more severe cases, you may vomit blood and pass black stools.
Causes of gastritis
- A Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Long-term use of painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin
- Autoimmune diseases (rare)1
Food itself doesn’t usually cause gastritis, but while some foods can irritate the stomach lining and aggravate the condition, some foods can pacify it.2 By limiting intake of certain foods, you can ease your symptoms, while other anti-inflammatory foods may help you treat the problem naturally.
7 Foods To Avoid If You Have Gastritis
The best dietary approach to treating gastritis is by eliminating foods that inflame your stomach lining or worsen existing inflammation. Here are commonly implicated foods that you should cut down on or avoid completely to make your gastritis more manageable.
1. Chilis And Hot Peppers
Spicy foods do not cause gastritis but may worsen the condition. They literally add fuel to fire to an already inflamed stomach lining.3 Be mindful of spices that creep into your meals and often go unnoticed as savory salad dressings, pizza sauces, and the toppings on pasta. These may give you a heartburn.
2. Fresh And Processed Meat, Grains, And Sugar
Another no-no is acidic food, again because of potential aggravation of the stomach lining.4 This includes refined grains, sugar, fresh and processed meat, and sweetened drinks.5
3. Deep-Fries And Baked Goods
Being fatty foods, these are heavy on your system and not easy to digest. What’s more, animal studies have found that consuming foods that are fatty or high in cholesterol for as little as 3 to 4 months can actually cause gastritis. Needless to say, if you already have the problem, you’d do well to avoid such foods.6
4. Coffee, Citrus Juices, And Sodas
These are all acidic drinks and can worsen an irritated stomach lining too.7 Switch to other fruit juices like cranberry juice or hot beverages like green tea or kombucha, a fermented sugar-tea drink. Watch out for carbonated drinks that are used as drink mixers.
[Also Read: Ways to Improve Digestion]
5. Processed And Fast Foods
Canned and packaged foods are growing in popularity with the constant struggle for time. As tempting as they may be to offer you some extra free time or satiate untimely hunger, they are best avoided.
The preservatives and artificial flavoring agents used in these foods could all be potential sources of irritation and inflammation. Fast foods are often prepared using processed foods and can, thus, also be potential threats.
6. Alcoholic Drinks And Beverages
Since alcohol has been implicated as one of the causes for gastritis, you would do well to avoid it altogether or cut down consumption at the very least.8 While social pressure or an addiction may stand in your way, bear in mind the potential damage you may cause to your stomach. Motivate yourself to not give in.
7. Milk, Soy, And Their Products
Milk may temporarily make you feel better, but it also increases stomach acid that can worsen gastritis symptoms.9
Though a rare cause of gastritis, an allergic reaction to milk (lactose intolerance) or soy may cascade into gastritis, among other symptoms.10
This is more common in infants than adults. When experiencing gastritis symptoms or when you suspect it, it’s best to limit your consumption of whole milk, milk products (cheese, curd, chocolates, and shakes), soybeans, and soy products (soymilk and tofu) to be on the safe side.
[Also Read: Foods That Are Good For Digestion]
7 Foods To Eat To Prevent Or Treat Gastritis
Have 4–5 small meals through the day instead of just 3 large meals to prevent further irritation of your stomach lining.
In an attempt to soothe your stomach by eating healing foods, it is easy to go overboard and overload your stomach in one go. However, it is important to not to do so.
Switch to having multiple small meals through the day so that you do not force too much food down into an inflamed stomach.11
In the U.S., 20%–50% gastritis cases are due to an H. pylori bacterial infection.12 Eating foods that can help kill bacteria may, thus, be one of your best dietary weapons.
1. Apples, Berries, Onions, And Celery
To halt the progression of an H. pylori infection, bring in the flavonoids. These are powerful antioxidants that control reactive chemical molecules (free radicals) in the body. This, in turn, suppresses inflammation – a benefit anyone suffering from gastritis can willingly enjoy.
Caution: Those allergic to aspirin are likely to be allergic to cranberries as well. If you are on any medication, speak with your doctor before eating cranberries.
Eat more flavonoid-rich foods like cranberries, onions, apples, and celery. For similar reasons, tuck into other antioxidant-rich foods as well, like cherries and blueberries.13 Tomatoes are full of antioxidants but they are also acidic in nature and better avoided when you have gastritis.
2. Broccoli Sprouts
Broccoli sprouts are cruciferous vegetables that contain isothiocyanate sulforaphane, a compound that can kill H. pylori bacteria. In one animal study, mice with gastritis were fed broccoli sprouts. The mice showed significant improvement because of reduced inflammation and inhibited bacterial growth.14
The vegetable is also fiber-rich, making it a big yes for your healthy diet.
Adding to the list of antibacterial foods is the panacea garlic. Like broccoli and other antioxidant-rich foods, it too can interfere with an H. pylori infection.15 Animal studies have found that garlic extract can help prevent H. pylori-induced gastritis.16
Incorporate garlic in your meals for a welcome zing or grate some over your salads and smoothies.
4. Green Tea
Limit yourself to 2–3 cups of green tea a day. It has just the right dose of catechins (270 mg/day).
Researchers suggest that tea catechins, antioxidant compounds in tea, can help combat gastritis. Reassuringly, tea catechins may work where antibiotics fail due to the increasing incidence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.17
5. Yogurt, Sauerkraut, Kefir, And Kombucha
Probiotics or certain fermented foods can be looked upon as dietary vaccinations supplying your gut with live microorganisms to boost immunity.
Caution: Those with weakened immune systems, including post-surgery and critically ill patients, and very sick infants should avoid probiotics as the side effects are not completely understood and can be severe.18
Consume probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha. These are loaded with healthy bacteria that can help combat gastritis. They do so by forcing your immunity to fight back and by directly competing with H. pylori bacteria for nutrition and space.19
6. Nuts, Seeds, Whole Grains, And Legumes
Caution: Nut allergies are one of the most common food allergies. Ensure you aren’t allergic to nuts before increasing their intake.
Dietary fiber can help improve digestion and reduce gastric inflammation.20 Consciously add plenty of fiber to your diet along with plenty of water. This will help prevent constipation from filling up on fiber. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, oats, lentils, peas, and beans are fiber-rich go-to foods. They also carry a truckload of nutrients.
7. Dark Leafy Greens And Sea Vegetables
Foods packed with calcium and vitamin B such as dark leafy greens (kale and spinach) and sea vegetables are all good provided you’re not allergic to them.21
Chronic gastritis is associated with vitamin B12 deficiency because of impaired absorption of the vitamin in the gut.22 Dietary supplementation with the vitamin is, thus, a must.
Tips To Make The Most Of Your Gastritis Diet
- Begin with an elimination diet: For starters, eliminate all the harmful foods mentioned. You will most likely see an improvement in your symptoms. After a couple of weeks, reintroduce one food item at a time and see if your symptoms crop up again or worsen. This practice will help you identify your culprit food item. Often it is not just one type of food but a combination of foods. So, till you exhaust the list, keep checking for relapses.
Prepare a diet chart ensuring a good balance of nutrients. Stick to it so you can track your progress with ease.
- Pay attention to how hygienically food is prepared: This is a must not only when you eat out but at home as well. Researchers believe contaminated water, food, and utensils could be a mode of transmission of the dreaded H. pylori bacteria.23
Being a digestive condition, the best way to deal with gastritis is through a well-controlled diet. However, if you experience severe symptoms like coughing up blood or passing extremely dark stools, seek medical advice immediately.
|↑1, ↑8||Gastritis. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑2||Gastritis. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑3, ↑4, ↑11||Gastritis. National Health Services.|
|↑5||Choi, Mi-Kyeong, Myung-Hwa Kang, and Mi-Hyun Kim. “Dietary Intake Assessment and Biochemical Characteristics of Blood and Urine in Patients with Chronic Gastritis.” Clinical nutrition research 4, no. 2 (2015): 90-96.|
|↑6||Laurila, Aino, Sheri P. Cole, Shiva Merat, Marygorret Obonyo, Wulf Palinski, Joshua Fierer, and Joseph L. Witztum. “High-Fat, High-Cholesterol Diet Increases the Incidence of Gastritis in LDL Receptor–Negative Mice.” Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology 21, no. 6 (2001): 991-996.|
|↑7, ↑13, ↑20, ↑21||Gastritis.University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑9||Gut Feelings About Gastritis. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑10||Gastritis. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑12||Gut Feelings About Gastritis. News in Health. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑14||Yanaka, Akinori, Jed W. Fahey, Atsushi Fukumoto, Mari Nakayama, Souta Inoue, Songhua Zhang, Masafumi Tauchi, Hideo Suzuki, Ichinosuke Hyodo, and Masayuki Yamamoto. “Dietary sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprouts reduce colonization and attenuate gastritis in Helicobacter pylori–infected mice and humans.” Cancer Prevention Research 2, no. 4 (2009): 353-360.|
|↑15||Cellini, Luigina, Emanuela Di Campli, Michele Masulli, Soraya Di Bartolomeo, and Nerino Allocati. “Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori by garlic extract (Allium sativum).” FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology 13, no. 4 (1996): 273-277.|
|↑16||Iimuro, Masaki, Hideyuki Shibata, Toshihiko Kawamori, Takayuki Matsumoto, Tetsuo Arakawa, Takashi Sugimura, and Keiji Wakabayashi. “Suppressive effects of garlic extract on Helicobacter pylori-induced gastritis in Mongolian gerbils.” Cancer letters 187, no. 1 (2002): 61-68.|
|↑17||Matsubara, Satoshi, Hideyuki Shibata, Fumiyasu Ishikawa, Teruo Yokokura, Mami Takahashi, Takashi Sugimura, and Keiji Wakabayashi. “Suppression of Helicobacter pylori-induced gastritis by green tea extract in Mongolian gerbils.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 310, no. 3 (2003): 715-719.|
|↑18||Probiotics: In Depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Heath. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑19||Kusters, Johannes G., Arnoud HM van Vliet, and Ernst J. Kuipers. “Pathogenesis of Helicobacter pylori infection.” Clinical microbiology reviews 19, no. 3 (2006): 449-490.|
|↑22||Gastritis. Medical University of South Carolina.|
|↑23||Gastritis. National Institutes of Health.|