What is gastritis?
Gastritis (inflammation of the mucosal lining of the stomach) is a digestive system ailment. It is characterised by pre-ulcerative inflammation of the lining of the stomach and atrophying (weakening) of the mucosal membranes.
Gastritis is a condition which needs to be addressed as soon as possible to reduce any further complications to health. If left untreated more chronic conditions may occur such:
- stomach or gastric ulcers
- stomach cancer
- digestive inflammation
- intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
Digestive complaints such as bloating, heaviness after a meal, indigestion, flatulence, constipation, pain and reflux are all symptoms of insufficient digestive processes. Other conditions such as a decrease in liver function and inadequate digestive enzymes to properly digest the foods you consume are also indicators.
When we ingest foods we produce enzymes in the mouth and stomach which break down the foods and help us to absorb nutrients. If we do not have enough enzymes to break foods down then it sits in the stomach and ferments. This then produces gas and fermentation and causes the stomach to experience discomfort.
For sufferers of Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), eating can be a painful experience. Doctors once recommended a diet consisting of only bland foods. This was helpful to some as it meant the elimination of the foods which aggravated the condition such as spices, fatty foods and fried foods. However there are healthy food choices that can help to soothe and heal the gastric tract.
Symptoms of gastritis
- abdominal pain or tenderness
- discomfort after eating
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
Causes of gastritis
- Microorganisms or bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori infection and Candida. It is possible to test yourself to see whether this is a contributing factor
- Excessive fluoride consumption
- Aspirin and Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) as they may cause degradation of the stomach lining
- Recreational drugs
- Allergies and leaky gut
- Fungal infections
- Insufficient digestive processes
- Hypochlorhydria (insufficient digestive secretions)
- Excessive consumption of alcohol or coffee because they irritates the lining of the stomach and reduce digestive enzymes
- Excessive consumption of dietary fats and lipids
- Stress causes a decrease in digestive secretions
- Nutritional deficiencies such as B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Betacarotene, beneficial probiotics, oils and Zinc
Natural remedies for gastritis
The following is a list of foods, herbs and supplements which may be of assistance in reducing the symptoms of gastritis and helping the stomach line to heal. Please remember that the lining has been damaged and inflamed for some time before the symptoms are experienced, this means that healing will take time so don’t expect immediate results. A reduction in the symptoms such as pain will be the indication that the lining is less aggravated.
- The amino acid Glutamine helps with maintenance of gut barrier function. Glutamine powder (available in health food stores) can be taken daily to improve the integrity of the stomach lining. Mix the following ingredients together and take before meals – glutamine powder, slippery elm, acidophilis powder, Aloe Vera juice and liquid Zinc. The combination of these ingredients can be taken daily to improve the integrity of the stomach lining and help it to heal
- Slippery elm powder has a regenerating effect on the lining of the stomach, it provides a barrier between the mucus membranes and the digestive acids so that healing can take place
- Herbs which may be of assistance to soothe and help douse the fire of this inflammatory condition are: Chamomile, Marshmallow, Licorice, Green Tea, Cats Claw, Pinellia and Coptis Root. In Chinese medicine inflammatory digestive problems arise from excessive heat/ fire which needs to be neutralised.
- B Vitamins (specifically B12) may help to heal the mucosa
- Aloe vera juice – taken regularly may help to reduce inflammation
- Vitamin C may help to prevent and treat gastritis (due to its ability to suppress Helicobacter pylori)
- Zinc is an important mineral for healing and is a common nutrient deficiency
- Take a probiotic supplement to encourage a healthy balance of good digestive flora and to address Helicobacter pylori or Candida infection and reduce fermentation of foods
Diet tips for gastritis
- Increase your consumption of soothing (demulcent) foods such as papaya and banana
- Reduce acidic foods which contribute to inflammation such as tea, coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, dairy, wheat, sugar, refined and processed foods
- Increase alkalising foods such as miso soup, vegetable juices, lemon juice, green leafy vegetables, sprouts, fish, water and herbal teas
- Increase Glutamine containing foods- cabbage, papaya, celery, spinach, dandelion greens, lettuce, parsley, cabbage, brussel sprouts and carrots
- Don’t drink large amounts of liquids 20 minutes prior to eating or after eating as it will dilute the digestive enzymes and reduce digestive function further
- Don’t eat large amounts of food at each meal, stick to eating smaller meals more often during the day. If you have limited amounts of digestive enzymes then large meals will greatly increase bloating
- Introduce herbal teas into your diet such as Peppermint, Ginger, Licorice, Fennel and Chamomile to support digestion and reduce symptoms of digestive discomfort
- Increase your consumption of good oils in the diet to lubricate the lining, reduce inflammation and promote healing. Good oils include raw unheated olive oil (added to salads or meals before serving), flax seed oil, avocados, nuts and seeds and fish oil
- Dont eat at times when you are feeling stressed
- Start each day with a small glass of warm water with ½ lemon squeezed in it. Lemon juice increases digestive juices, cleanses the bowels and kick starts the liver to detoxify
- Make a vegetable juice each day to help alkalise the system and add cabbage juice to it because cabbage contains Substance U which may help to alleviate gastritis and reduce pre-ulcer formation
- Use Manuka Honey in a warm lemon and ginger drink to help soothe the digestive tract. Manuka honey contains potent anti-microbial and soothing effects to the stomach
Lifestyle tips for gastritis
- Manage stress
- Improve nutritional status
- Address gut bacteria imbalance
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Avoid spicy, sugar, rich and fatty foods
Stress and digestion
If the gastritis is aggravated by stress then consider addressing the nervous system. Long term nervous system stress and the production of stress hormones such as Cortisol cause a feedback to the digestive system and this may result in a reduction of digestive enzyme production.
HERE ARE SOME DIET TIPS TO HELP ADDRESS GASTRITIS NATURALLY:
- avoid combining too many different foods at one meal
- meals should be taken at least 2 hours prior to retiring at night
- eat 4-5 small meals rather than 3 large meals
- consume more soft foods
- do not drink liquids around meal times as this diminishes digestive juices in the stomach
- do not eat if you are stressed, try to create a relaxing environment around meal times
- chew thoroughly and dont rush your meal
- keep a food diary to help you to assess which foods irritate your digestion
- try to consume a bland diet
- consume a light diet which is easily digestible
- your stomach can be irritated by foods which increase hydrochloric acid in the gut as the compromised stomach lining can be further irritated.
- do not over eat as this can place a burden on the already overwhelmed digestive system
- Choose foods which aim to alkalise the body rather than create acidity
- Application of heat (hot water bottle) can help to reduce the pain associated with gastritis
- Remember to continue to eat a diet full of variety, this includes quality foods that will encourage healthy digestion and repair. These include plenty of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, quality proteins (lean meats) and healthy fats
- Soak any nuts, grains and legumes you consume as this helps break down the outer layer and also encourages fermentation to begin. This makes them easier to digest and absorb without compromising the digestive process
- Avoid processed foods in your diet as these have a low value of nutrition and create acid and inflammation in the body. Choose carbohydrates from quality sources such as grains, fruits and vegetables
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