WRITTEN BY DR. PASCAL MUTEKHELE | NUTRITIONIST
More than 350,000 people in the USA live with peptic ulcers disease, a debilitating illness characterised by lesions in the stomach, oesophagus or duodenum.
Stomach ulcers is the most common type of peptic ulcers disease. Each year, there are more than 30,000 new cases diagnosed with the same disease.
In Kenya, ulcers, which was previously viewed as the disease for the adults, is now affecting children as young as six months.
— Daily Monitor (@DailyMonitor) February 2, 2017
Currently, most hospital admissions are due to this persistent illness which affects the digestive system. It is common in many people and some think that it has no cure.
What are the symptoms?
- Abdominal discomfort especially when you are hungry or angry
- Constipation– you may take long to go for long call. Stool becomes dry thus painful relieving oneself. This may lead to haemorrhoids, painful swellings in the anus.
- Bloating, whereby the stomach is filled with a lot of gases leading to fullness. This may lead to low appetite.
- Frequent heartburn, particularly after eating foods like, beans, oranges, lemons, pineapples, soda, highly spiced foods, potatoes, Sukuma wiki, ripe bananas among other foods.
- Lack of appetite, especially when ulcers are severe.
Causes of peptic ulcers
Over 80% of the cases of peptic ulcers disease are caused by infection with a bacteria called H. pylori. It thrives well in the stomach. This bacterium is found in stool of individuals suffering from ulcers and are H. pylori positive.
By age 60, about half of all people have been infected with H. pylori. What you need to know about the bacteria that is a common culprit of stomach ulcers: https://t.co/WcFrCL7Ki0 pic.twitter.com/0PTyLQEQIj
— WebMD (@WebMD) December 12, 2018
When an individual suffering from ulcers, and has tested positive with H. pylori, handles food i.e. with poor hygiene, he/she may transmit the infection to the next person through faecal-oral contamination.
Most people contract the infection by eating some raw foods such as fruit or vegetable salads.
Poorly handled roadside ready-to-eat foods i.e. roasted maize, etc, is also a medium of infection.
However, there are other causes of ulcers:
- Heredity– family history of ulcers
- Occupation– demanding jobs that lead to excessive mental stress accompanied by irregular food intake.
- Personality type– nervous, emotional, ambitious, and excessively aggressive individuals are more prone to ulcers.
- Irritants: chemicals, mechanical and thermal irritants- excessive consumption of strong tea, coffee, spices, alcohol, tobacco and drugs may cause ulcers.
- Nicotine in smoking may cause ulcers by causing stimulation of gastric juice secretion.
- Poor eating habits: eating hurriedly, improper chewing of food, skipping of meals.
How do you manage ulcers?
This depends on the main cause of the disease. When the patient is H. pylori positive, an H. pylori kit – a combination of three effective drugs, is given. One of these drugs is an antibiotic that kill the bacteria.
Antacids are provided to treat hyperacidity. Painkillers are also provided to relieve pain.
Can diet treat ulcers?
Proper diet is necessary for the treatment of ulcers. This is due to the fact that this disease affects the digestive system.
Below are some of the foods that must be restricted when you are suffering from ulcers:
Alcohol, cigarette, soda, carbonated juices, beans, spices e.g. ginger, lemons, oranges, pineapples, mangoes, Sukuma wiki, green grams, omena, fermented milk, fermented beverages, coffee, red peppers among others.
However, one may tolerate pawpaw, watermelon, avocado, apple among other non-acidic fruits.
You can exercise more to reduce your weight. This will reduce chances of you suffering from ulcers.
Psychological stress must also be well managed to avoid excessive secretion of prostaglandins which in turn leads to excessive secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach leading to hyperacidity. Hydrochloric acid has corrosive effects to the walls of the stomach.
For you to have a healthy digestive system, consume at least 2 litres of water in a day. This will flush out toxins and leave your system healthy. Constipation can be managed by adequate intake of water and fruits and vegetables. Do not skip meals.
(PASCAL MUTEKHELE is a Consultant Clinical Nutritionist, licenced by KNDI, a body that accredits Nutritionists and Dietitians in Kenya.
You can find him on O719146168 or firstname.lastname@example.org).