For those individuals who do not know what H.Pylori is or don’t understand the destruction this little spiral shaped bacteria does to one’s body, here is a crash course in Helicobacter Pylori.
H.Pylori is a bacteria that more than 50% of the world’s population harbors in their gastrointestinal (GI) track, with infection rates more prevalent in underdeveloped countries. It is primarily contracted through contaminated water or food. Due to the bacteria’s shape (think of a corkscrew), H.Pylori easily buries itself into the layers of the stomach and upper intestinal track (duodenum). The bacteria will remain dormant or begin rapidly reproducing throughout the stomach and duodenum. H.Pylori destroys the protective lining of your stomach and intestines and “feeds” (thrives) on the stomach and intestinal lining. This destruction leaves the stomach and duodenum with large open sores throughout. These sores are called ulcers.
Duodenal ulcers are located in/on the first few inches of the intestine. Duodenal ulcers cannot be cured with antacid medications. The antacid medication must be taken infinitely to maintain a better quality of life (not present with symptoms).
Gastric (or peptic) ulcers are located in/on the stomach. Gastric ulcers cannot be cured with antacid medications. The antacid medication must be taken infinitely to maintain a better quality of life (not present with symptoms).
If ulcers are left unattended, they can lead to internal bleeding, surgical repair of the stomach or duodenum, and/or cancer of the stomach or duodenum.
Symptoms of H.Pylori
- Constant burning pain in the stomach and abdomen
- Severe abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite, weight loss
- Nausea, vomiting
- Black stool
- Constipation, bowel blockage (due to swelling of intestines)
Treatment of Active H.Pylori Infection
- High dose antibiotics, usually given in two to three separate pills
- Pills are taken twice daily for 10 to 14 days
- The treatment of an active infection is usually worse than the disease. The type of antibiotics used leave your body fatigued, nauseated, and unable to eat.
- My GI doctor prescribes narcotic pain medication to help with the pain of both the active H.Pylori infection and the antibiotics. Also, he prescribes an anti-emetic (anti-nausea) medication to help with the intense nausea and vomiting.
Daily Treatment of H.Pylori Aftermath (Ulcers)
- Antacid; prescribed for the ulcers. Dosage depends on the severity of the ulcers and usually declines as time progresses and your ulcers start to heal. For example, I started on 80+ mg a day of omeprazole after my initial diagnosis/treatment and then my relapse. Currently, I take 40 mg a day of omeprazole.
- Magnesium; due to the antacid severely depleting magnesium levels, I take 600 mg per day of a magnesium supplement to avoid chronic migraine headaches.
In order to prevent a relapse (or outbreak) of active H.Pylori, it was highly recommended by my GI doctor to follow a healthy diet and avoid certain foods that can irritate the ulcers and cause the bacteria to reproduce and become active (causing further ulcers and damage to my stomach and duodenum). A healthy diet significantly helps to minimize symptoms and can assist in fighting off (and possibly killing off) the bacteria.
- Foods to Avoid: tomatoes and tomato products, large amounts of chocolate, large amounts of coffee, high-fat dairy products, fried foods, sugar, processed foods, limited salt, cabbage.
- Foods to Eat: lots of high fiber foods, whole grains, vegetables, lean proteins (chicken and fish), low sodium foods, legumes/lentils, fruits (especially cranberries and apples), lowest-fat dairy products.
A diet full of foods that contain high amounts of antioxidants and flavonoids are great at healing ulcers and keeping the H.Pylori from returning (reproducing). Cranberries (sugar free cranberry juice or 100% natural cranberry juice) have been proven to attack and kill the bacteria. Other foods to eat lots of if you have H.Pylori (or other ulcer diseases) are: apples, raspberries, prunes, pears, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, celery, onion, garlic, 100% whole grains, and lean chicken breast and fish. I was given a comprehensive list for my dietary needs. If you want a copy of it, contact me and I would be happy to share.
I hope this information was helpful in understanding H.Pylori and gives you a little more insight into my life and the need to eat more hippie food.