Gastritis Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid
The term gastritis refers to any condition that involves inflammation of the stomach lining. Eating certain foods and avoiding others can help people manage gastritis symptoms.
Gastritis can be acute or chronic. Acute gastritis comes on suddenly and severely, while chronic gastritis lasts for a longer time.
Different factors cause different types of gastritis. Symptoms include:
- abdominal pain
- feeling full
For most people, gastritis is minor and will go away quickly after treatment. However, some forms of gastritis can produce ulcers or increase the risk of cancer.
Diet is an important player in your digestive and overall health. Following a gastritis-friendly diet can go a long way toward relieving your symptoms and helping you feeling better.
What to eat on a gastritis diet
Some foods may help manage your gastritis and lessen the symptoms.
Diet does not generally cause chronic gastritis, but eating some foods can make the symptoms worse. These may include foods that are:
- highly acidic
Some people find that the following foods and drinks help ease symptoms of gastritis:
- high fiber foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans
- low fat foods, such as fish, lean meats, and vegetables
- foods with low acidity, including vegetables and beans
- noncarbonated drinks
- caffeine-free drinks
According to a 2016 review, some studies say that probiotics could help with stomach complications caused by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, also known as H. pylori.
These bacteria cause an infection in the digestive system, which can lead to gastritis or stomach ulcers. In fact, H. pylori is the most common cause of gastritis, accounting for 90 percent of cases.
That’s why healthful probiotic foods could help with gastritis. These include:
Eating smaller, more frequent meals can also help ease symptoms.
Some types of gastritis can make it more difficult for your body to absorb iron or vitamin B12, leading to deficiencies. Talk with your doctor about taking supplements to prevent deficiencies.
Foods to avoid on a gastritis diet
Foods that are high in fat may worsen inflammation in the lining of the stomach.
For some people, food allergies can trigger gastritis. In these cases, identifying and avoiding these foods may treat and prevent the condition.
Some forms of gastritis are caused by drinking alcohol too often or drinking too much in a short period.
Foods that may irritate the stomach and make gastritis worse include:
- acidic foods, such as tomatoes and some fruits
- carbonated drinks
- fatty foods
- fried foods
- fruit juices
- pickled foods
- spicy foods
If you notice that a certain food or food group makes your symptoms worse, avoiding this food can prevent symptoms. This is particularly true when it comes to food allergies.
Gastritis diet with an ulcer
Left untreated, some types of gastritis can eventually lead to a stomach ulcer, also called a peptic ulcer. If you have an ulcer, the types of foods that you should eat or avoid are similar to those for gastritis.
With an ulcer, you should make sure you are getting foods full of nutrients. Following a healthful, balanced diet makes it easier for the ulcer to heal.
According to 2014 research on diet and stomach ulcers, the following foods are allowed:
- milk, yogurt, and low fat cheeses
- vegetable oils and olive oil
- some fruits, including apples, melons, and bananas
- some vegetables, including leafy greens, carrots, spinach, and zucchini
- lentils, chickpeas, and soybeans
- lean meats
- natural juices
Research also suggests that people with a stomach ulcer may want to avoid:
- fried foods
- spicy peppers
- caffeinated drinks
- mustard grains
There is very little research to support these specific dietary recommendations for gastritis. Your best option is to consult with a doctor or nutritionist for an individualized diet based on your own symptoms and reactions to foods.
Causes of gastritis
Different types of gastritis have different causes. Some of these include:
Bacterial infection by H. pylori
H. pylori bacteria are the most common cause of gastritis, accounting for 90 percent of cases.
The main cause of chronic gastritis is an H. pylori infection in childhood that continues to cause problems in adulthood.
Stomach lining damage
Various factors can damage the stomach lining to cause gastritis, including:
- drinking alcohol and taking certain substances
- taking aspirin and pain relievers, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- swallowing a corrosive substance
- having bacterial or viral infections
- getting radioactive treatments to the upper abdomen or lower part of the chest
- having surgery to remove part of the stomach
Major injury or illness
Major illness or injury can cause acute stress gastritis.
An injury to your body — not necessarily to your stomach — or an illness that affects blood flow to your stomach can increase stomach acid, causing gastritis.
Autoimmune diseases may also contribute to gastritis. This occurs when the immune system starts to attack the body’s own healthy tissue in the stomach lining.
The link between food allergies and gastritis is not yet clear. However, food allergies can cause a rare type of gastrointestinal inflammation called eosinophilic gastroenteritis, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.
Work with your doctor or board certified allergist to determine any food allergies.
Treatments for gastritis
For gastritis caused by H. pylori, your doctor will also prescribe antibiotics.
Over-the-counter medications, including antacids, can ease stomach complications but do not treat the underlying condition.
According to 2020 research, taking probiotic supplements may help treat and prevent symptoms caused by H. pylori.
People should avoid things that trigger their gastritis, including alcohol, aspirin, or pain medication.
Other lifestyle factors that can help relieve gastritis include maintaining a healthy weight for you and managing stress. Eating small, frequent meals instead of lager meals can also help.
The length of time your gastritis will last once you begin treatment depends on the type, cause, and severity.
Most of the time, gastritis will improve quickly after beginning treatment. Talk with your doctor if your gastritis symptoms are severe or last more than a week.
When considering diet changes or new medications, it’s best to check with a doctor first.