Stomach Ulcer Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • Senior Woman and granddaughter preparing salad

    Spicy and acidic foods have long been on the list of foods to avoid if you have a stomach ulcer, also called a peptic ulcer. While limiting these foods in your diet may help reduce stomach acid, doctors recommend increasing the amount of fiber you eat when deciding what foods to eat with a stomach ulcer. Find out what to add to your stomach ulcer diet menu—and which foods to avoid—while your peptic ulcer heals.

  • 1
    Add: High-fiber foods

    A stomach ulcer diet should include lots of high-fiber foods. Research has found that people whose diet is high in fiber, particularly soluble fiber, have a lower risk of developing a peptic ulcer. Stomach ulcer foods to eat with high amounts of soluble fiber include oatmeal, apples, peas, carrots, beans and pears. For insoluble fiber, try whole grains, nuts, green beans, potatoes and cauliflower. Other fruits and veggies also have high fiber content.

    Note: If you haven’t been eating many high-fiber foods in the past, add them to your diet gradually to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal upset.

  • 2
    Avoid: Fried or fatty foods
    Fried pickles appetizer in a basket

    You may notice eating a big meal of fried chicken makes your stomach ulcer symptoms worse. That’s because your body digests fatty foods more slowly, making them feel heavy in your stomach. Plus, slow digestion gives food more time to ferment, which can lead to excess gas and bloating. Fried and fatty foods are definitely on the list of stomach ulcer foods to avoid.

  • 3
    Add: Foods rich in flavonoids

    Flavonoid-rich foods have been shown to inhibit the growth of a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in your stomach. This bacterium is the primary cause of stomach ulcers, wreaking havoc by harming the mucous membrane lining the GI tract. Foods rich in flavonoids—such as strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, apples, celery, cranberries and cranberry juice—don’t appear to kill the bacteria; instead they prevent the bacteria from damaging the stomach lining.

  • 4
    Add: Foods high in antioxidants
    Plate of roasted Brussels sprouts with cranberry and pistachio

    Antioxidants can help eliminate H. pylori. Some studies have shown that people who took small doses of vitamin C over a period of time saw an improvement. While oranges are known for having lots of vitamin C, they are acidic and might upset your stomach. Try strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and potatoes for vitamin C.

    It may surprise you to know that the antioxidant capsaicin, found in many kinds of chili peppers, has been found to have healing effects for GI ulcers. (Capsaicin is what makes these peppers spicy.) However, capsaicin may be beneficial only for ulcers caused by aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. For other ulcer causes, capsaicin can make symptoms worse.

  • 5
    Avoid: Non-fermented dairy products
    Close-Up Of Milk Glasses

    While fermented dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and sour cream have been associated with good gut health and a reduced risk of stomach ulcers, non-fermented dairy products, such as milk and ice cream were associated with poorer gut health and an increased risk of ulcers. Non-fermented dairy products lack the live bacteria cultures (probiotics) that are used to make fermented dairy products.

  • 6
    Add: Foods high in vitamin A
    Hardboiled Eggs

    Some studies have shown that vitamin A, also called retinol, helps build up protective mucus in the stomach and GI tract. Foods high in vitamin A (or high in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A) include eggs, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach. Liver and liver products are very high in vitamin A, but pay attention to how much you eat. Eating liver more than once a week can result in too much vitamin A, which can weaken the bones over time.

  • 7
    Avoid: Alcohol and coffee
    Hand stirring coffee, agenda on table in background, close-up

    Alcohol erodes the mucus layer that protects the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, which can cause even more inflammation and bleeding of your stomach ulcer. Coffee (even decaf) can increase the production of stomach acid. It’s best to eliminate these drinks from your stomach ulcer diet.

  • 8
    Add: Tea
    Pouring fresh mint tea into glass from glass teapot

    Some research has shown that green tea, along with white, oolong and black teas, can also help prevent the overgrowth of H. pylori in your stomach. Even better, these teas didn’t harm the types of bacteria that are beneficial for your gut. These findings come from lab research, but scientists are optimistic that future studies will show these effects will also occur in the body.

Keep in mind when you’re adding or avoiding foods on your stomach ulcer diet menu, only you know what your stomach can tolerate. You might be fine eating oranges and other acidic citrus fruits, or you might not have any problems with spicy foods. What works for one person might not work for another person, so try a variety of foods from this list to see what sits well with you.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 25
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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