Food that stimulates the secretion of gastric acid (such as coffee, black tea and soft drinks) and food that irritates the stomach lining (like pepper, and processed, fatty meats, such as bacon and sausage) should be avoided when treating an H. Pylori infection.
H. pylori is a bacterium which lodges in the stomach lining and usually causes gastritis, but, in some cases, this infection can also lead to other problems such as stomach cancer, ulcers, vitamin B12 deficiency, anemia, diabetes and a fatty liver.
When this bacteria is confirmed to be present in the upper GI system, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to eliminate this bacteria, as well as medication to protect your stomach and reduce acid production. Dietary changes are also advised, and recommendations are outlined below.
What to eat
There are certain foods that can complement your prescribed medical treatment. These foods include:
Probiotics are present in foods such as yogurt and kefir, and can also be taken as supplements, in powder or capsule form. Probiotics are formed by good bacteria that live in the intestine and stimulate the production of flora that fight this bacteria and decrease the side effects that appear during the treatment of the disease, such as diarrhea, constipation and poor digestion.
2. Omega-3 and omega-6
Omega-3 and omega-6 help to reduce stomach inflammation and prevent the growth of H. pylori, helping to treat the disease. These good fats can be found in foods like fish oil, olive oil, carrot seeds and grapefruit seed oil.
3. Fruits and vegetables
Non-acidic fruits and boiled vegetables should be eaten during the treatment of H. pylori because they are easily digested and help to improve bowel function. Certain fruits like raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries help to fight the growth of this bacteria, and therefore moderate intake can be considered.
4. Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
These 3 vegetables, especially broccoli, contain substances called isothiocyanates which can help prevent cancer and fight H. pylori,. They help to reduce the spread of this bacteria in the intestine. These vegetables are easy to digest and help reduce gastric pain that can arise during treatment. 70g of broccoli a day (about 1/3 of a cup) is recommended for the best results.
5. White meats and fish
Protein that has lower fat content, like white meats and fish, help with digestion and prevent food from staying too long in the stomach (which can cause pain and a feeling of being full during treatment). The best way to prepare these proteins is by boiling them with salt and a bay leaf to add flavor without stimulating acid production in the stomach. If grilling the meat or fish, use olive oil or 1 tablespoon of water. Roasting meat, without oil, in the oven is also possible, but fried chicken and fish aren’t advisable.
How to relieve the treatment’s more unpleasant symptoms
Treatment for H. pylori usually lasts about 7 days and involves the use of medication, specifically proton pump inhibitors (e.g. omeprazole and pantoprazole) and antibiotics (e.g. amoxicillin and clarithromycin). These are taken twice a day. Learn more about the most common symptoms of H. Pylori and how it is treated.
Common side effects of H. Pylori medication are:
1. Metallic taste in the mouth
This can happen early on in the treatment, and can worsen over time. To help treat this problem, you can add vinegar to your salads and sprinkle baking soda and salt on your toothpaste before brushing your teeth. This will help both neutralize the acids in the mouth and produce more saliva, which can get rid of the metallic taste.
2. Nausea and stomach pain
Nausea and stomach pain usually appear from the second day of treatment onwards. To prevent these symptoms from happening, it is important to drink plenty of water, rest, and eat easily digestible foods such as yogurt, white cheeses, and crackers.
Drinking ginger tea shortly after waking up and eating 1 slice of toast or 3 crackers, as well as avoiding large amounts of fluids in one sitting, are good ways of relieving morning sickness.
Diarrhea usually appears after the third day of treatment, because antibiotics, in addition to eliminating H. pylori, also end up reducing the naturally-occurring intestinal flora, causing diarrhea.
Eating 1 plain yogurt a day and easily digestible foods such as soups, purees, white rice, fish and white meats is a good way to stop diarrhea and restore the intestinal flora.
What to avoid eating during treatment
During treatment it is important to avoid eating foods that can irritate the stomach or that may stimulate the secretion of gastric juice, as well as foods that worsen side effects. It is important to avoid eating the following:
- Coffee, chocolate and black tea, because they contain caffeine, a substance that stimulates stomach movement and gastric juice secretion, causing more irritation;
- Soft drinks and fizzy drinks, as they distend the stomach and can cause pain and acid reflux;
- Alcoholic beverages, because they increase stomach inflammation;
- Sour fruits like lemon, orange and pineapple, as they can cause stomach pain and heartburn;
- Pepper and spicy foods such as garlic, mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, Worcester sauce, soy sauce, garlic sauce and stock cubes;
- Fatty meats, fried foods and yellow cheeses, because they are rich in fat, which makes digestion difficult and increase the time that food stays in the stomach;
- Processed meats and canned foods, as they contain a lot of preservatives and chemical additives that can irritate the stomach and intestine, increasing inflammation.
Therefore, drinking more water and eating white cheeses and fresh fruits that can help to reduce stomach inflammation and regulate intestinal transit is recommended.
3-day diet plan
The table below has an example of a 3-day menu to be followed during treatment:
|Meal||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
1 plain yogurt + 1 slice of bread with white cheese and an egg.
Strawberry smoothie made with skim milk and oats.
1 glass of milk + 1 scrambled egg with white cheese.
2 slices of papaya + 1 teaspoon of chia seeds.
1 banana + 7 cashew nuts.
1 glass of green juice + 3 crackers.
4 tablespoons of rice + 2 tablespoons of beans + chicken with tomato sauce + cabbage salad.
Mashed potato + 1/2 piece of salmon + salad with steamed broccoli.
Vegetable soup made with cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, zucchini and chicken.
1 glass of skimmed milk + cereal.
1 plain yogurt + bread with red fruit jam.
Chicken sandwich with ricotta cream.
After treatment, it is important to always thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables before eating because H. pylori may be present in raw vegetables and infect the stomach again.