Inflammation of the stomach lining can be something that happens on occasion or regularly, depending on the cause…
Gastritis is a painful and damaging inflammation within the lining of the stomach that may be caused by a number of specific factors and could increase the future risk of ulcers and even gastric (stomach) cancer in some people.
The most commonly identified causes of gastritis include:
- Infection by the H. Pylori bacteria
- Regular NSAID use (Advil, Aleve etc)
- Excessive Alcohol/Cigarette Use
- Excessive Stress
- Pre-existing conditions such as Crohn's/Colitis
In today’s article I’d like to explore what we know about the role dietary choices, including supplementation, have to play in reducing one’s risk of gastritis or reducing the severity/long-term consequences of it in those who already have it.
An observational study published in 2020 looked at common eating habits among those living with gastritis and found some trends of interest that are worthy of taking note of.
- Over half of gastritis sufferers reported to “too fast”
- Nearly a third of gastritis sufferers reported “irregular meal times”
These findings provide some initial evidence that slow, mindful eating and more regular eating times could play a role in reducing gastritis risk or improving its management.
Green tea is an antioxidant rich beverage that contains about half the caffeine per serving of coffee.
A 2001 study out of the International Journal Of Cancer demonstrated that green tea intake may be protective against both gastritis and gastric cancer (the risk of which is increased in those with gastritis).
The extent of the protective effect was increased based on the number of years which participants consumed green tea.
A recently published paper out of the Journal Of The American College Of Nutrition championed the protective role of fermented foods. Specifically, fermented foods were found to reduce the incidence of stomach ulcers characteristic of gastritis and lower the odds of H. pylori infection.
The positive impact of fermented foods on the gut microbiome, which I’ve discussed in a previous piece, creates an environment where H. pylori and stomach ulcers are less likely to thrive.
Fermented foods, which include kimchi, kombucha and kefir – among others, reduce inflammation and induce greater microbiome diversity which helps minimize the damage caused by infectious bacteria.
The word symbiotic is used to describe a supplement containing both probiotics and prebiotics, in other words the healthy gut bacteria themselves and the unique fibers that tend to act as their preferred “food” to optimize their growth.
H. pylori infection, a primary cause of gastritis, is generally treated pharmaceutically with specific antibiotic compounds.
A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated that the concurrent use of symbiotic supplements during H. pylori treatment increased the success rate and reduced the incidence of adverse effects brought about by antibiotic use.
Vitamin D has garnered an incredible amount of attention for its potential role in immune health, among a variety of other valuable contributions.
It also happens to be a nutrient that is under-consumed and often at risk of being at suboptimal levels owing to the fact it is found naturally in few foods and that there are challenges with sun-induced synthesis in many parts of the world.
Interestingly enough, a 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis published by Frontiers In Nutrition found that individuals with higher Vitamin D levels were more likely to be successful at eradicating H pylori with appropriate treatment than those with lower levels.
Ensuring adequate vitamin D intake whether via dietary or likely supplemental means could be of additional importance to those undergoing treatment for H pylori infection and of course for good health in general.
When looking into the role of dietary choices around gastritis and gastric cancer risk there are a few primary themes that emerge.
The first is that antioxidant rich foods such as fruits and vegetables appear to be generally beneficial and protective.
The second is that alcohol and salted foods, particularly processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages, salami and related foods – may be problematic.
This dietary guidance is perhaps unsurprising and certainly not unconventional, but may be of additional importance to those with a history of gastritis looking to improve their health in the long-term.