Stomach Ulcer Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid
Read on to learn what to add to your stomach ulcer diet menu — and which foods to avoid — while your stomach ulcer heals.
Certain foods may help prevent stomach ulcers or relieve the symptoms.
A stomach ulcer diet should include high-fiber foods. Fiber is an important part of any diet that can help regulate your digestion and has numerous other beneficial effects on your body.
Research from a 2015 study on animals found that, while more research is necessary, fiber — particularly soluble fiber — may help protect against intestinal damage.
Foods that contain high amounts of soluble fiber include:
- root vegetables and vegetables like carrots or broccoli
Foods that contain insoluble fiber include:
- whole grains
- green beans
Learn more about fiber and its benefits here.
Please note: Talk with your physician before adding high-fiber foods to your diet if you do not typically eat them. Your doctor may advise adding them to your diet gradually to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal upset.
Foods rich in flavonoids
According to researchers, flavonoid-rich foods may play a role in preventing and treating stomach ulcers.
Flavonoids are natural chemical substances found in plants. They have several beneficial properties that can work against stomach ulcers, such as anti-inflammatory effects and reduction of acid secretion in the stomach.
Foods rich in flavonoids include:
- citrus fruits
- red wine
Foods high in vitamin C
Some people may benefit from including foods rich in vitamin C in their stomach ulcer diet. A 2018 review of multiple studies noted that, while the results have been mixed, there may be an association between higher levels of vitamin C and reduced bleeding from stomach ulcers.
Vitamin C plays an important role in the body by protecting your cells and contributing to wound healing. Foods high in vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits
- Brussels sprouts
Foods high in vitamin A
Vitamin A is another essential micronutrient that may be good to include in your stomach ulcer diet. This vitamin helps maintain the health of the body’s mucosal membranes, which can be damaged by stomach ulcers. It also plays a role in the body’s immune system function, which is essential to protecting the body against pathogens like H. pylori.
Foods high in vitamin A include:
- sweet potatoes
- dark leafy greens like spinach
Liver and liver products are also very high in vitamin A, but pay attention to how much you eat. Eating liver more than once a week can result in too much vitamin A, which can weaken the bones over time.
There is some evidence to suggest that green tea may be able to prevent intestinal damage that can lead to or worsen stomach ulcers. A 2015 study on mice with gastric ulcers found that extracts from dragon-pearl tea, a type of green tea, showed some protective effects in the affected intestinal areas of the mice.
In addition, a 2020 study on mice with alcohol-induced gastric ulcers found that Lactobacillus plantarum isolated from green tea had anti-inflammatory effects on the mice’s gastrointestinal tracts. The authors also noted that there were positive probiotic effects, meaning that the extracts promoted the growth and maintenance of beneficial bacteria in the mice.
While more research in humans is necessary, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that green tea may help relieve digestive symptoms.
There are also certain foods that can aggravate stomach ulcer symptoms.
Fried or fatty foods
Fried and fatty animal-based foods are often excluded from what experts call a “bland diet”. These foods can take longer for your digestive system to process. As a result, cutting these foods out may be beneficial for people experiencing stomach ulcers because it reduces stress on the gastrointestinal tract and encourages healing.
In addition to animal-based fatty foods, acidic foods are often left out of a bland diet. Reducing acidic food intake can allow the gastrointestinal tract to heal. Foods that are high in acid include tomatoes, some citrus fruits like grapefruits, and sodas. While some of these foods may contain beneficial ingredients, like vitamin C or flavonoids, it may be best to leave them out to avoid aggravating your symptoms.
Alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol erodes the mucus layer that protects the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, which can cause inflammation and bleeding of your stomach ulcer. Additionally, caffeine can increase the production of stomach acid. It is best to eliminate these drinks from your stomach ulcer diet to allow the ulcer to heal.
Here are a few other common questions about stomach ulcers. Adam Bernstein, MD, ScD, has reviewed the answers.
What drinks are good for ulcers?
What are the warning signs of a stomach ulcer?
Do stomach ulcers go away?
With treatment, most people with stomach ulcers heal. It’s important to see your doctor to identify the underlying cause of the ulcer and receive appropriate treatment.
Can spicy food cause stomach ulcers?
While spicy foods do not cause stomach ulcers, they may worsen the symptoms for some people.
If you have a stomach ulcer, consult with your doctor about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. What works for one person may not work for another, and your doctor can help you determine what may be best for your individual situation.