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Foods that Trigger Pain: Ulcers

Although there are several types of ulcers (caused by bacteria or excessive painkiller use) and they can form in various places (the small intestine or the stomach), they all cause uncomfortable symptoms. Certain foods and beverages may exacerbate the pain and should be avoided.

For many years, it was believed that milk, and therefore other dairy products, were soothing to ulcers. Recent evidence suggests that this is not the case, however: it’s possible that certain proteins in milk may cause the stomach to generate more acid, which, obviously is not ideal for an ulcer. You probably don’t need to avoid dairy altogether though – probiotics in products like yogurt and kefir can help protect the gastointestinal tract. Keep portions small, no more than two or three cups daily.

You’ve probably heard that you should avoid spicy foods like peppers, hot mustards, etc. The evidence for this is mixed, but it’s a good idea to eat them sparingly anyway, and if they upset your system, cut them out.

Food preparation matters too: fried foods, especially those fried in shortening or vegetable oil, can be irritating to ulcers. These include things like egg rolls, french fries, and onion rings. Fatty foods like chicken wings and in some cases, pork or beef, can also be problematic. The best options are fresh, unprocessed foods and lean proteins, prepared without frying – try grilling or baking instead.

What you’re drinking is just as important as what you’re eating. Coffee – including decaffeinated – has chemicals that encourage the production of stomach acid, so it’s best avoided. The same goes for carbonated soft drinks and fruit juices containing citric acid, both of which can irritate the stomach lining and cause the production of acid.

Everyone’s condition is different, so not everything on the list applies to all patients. It’s important to keep track of what does or does not trigger your ulcer symptoms personally; a food diary can be a good place to start.