December 12, 2023

Does not Eating Cause Ulcer

Article fact-checked and approved by Dr. Didi Emokpare
Content provided in partnership with Radiant Health Magazine

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The detrimental effects of poor eating habits, such as missing meals or eating irregularly, on your stomach's health are well-documented. While not direct causes of ulcers, these patterns can exacerbate existing conditions and may contribute to the development of ulcers. They effectively set the stage for ulcers to form. For preventative measures, consuming a well-balanced diet at regular intervals is highly advisable.

Peptic ulcers, typically found in the stomach, result from bacterial infections that weaken the stomach lining, making it vulnerable to the acid produced within. These infections do not stem from irregular eating, but such habits can foster an environment conducive to their proliferation.

Your diet can significantly influence ulcer development. Regular, adequate eating promotes the production of mucus in the digestive system and decreases acid secretion, both of which diminish the likelihood of ulcer formation. This demonstrates the essential role a healthy diet plays in maintaining gastric health.

This article aims to delve into how eating habits can influence ulcer formation, identify the various causes and symptoms of ulcers, and provide effective treatment strategies and preventive measures.

What You Should Know About Ulcers?

Ulcers are a consequence of damage to the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract, the stomach's protective layer formed by mucus and bicarbonate, which neutralizes stomach acid.

Causes : It is caused by medication such as steroids and NSAIDS, H. pylori bacteria, increase in stomach acid, Stress, viral infection, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, Crohn's disease, Chemotherapy, Malignancy, Vascular insufficiency, Radiation therapy

Symptoms  : Epigastric discomfort, severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, throwing up coffee ground vomit, feeling full and bloating, iron deficiency anaemia, and Melaena

Treatment : Endoscopy, antacid medicines such as Nexium & Omeprazole,  

Risk factors : Excessive drinking, aging, obesity, smoking, pain medication that prohibit the production of mucus

Preventive strategies : Taking NSAIDS with PPIs or not taking them at all, removal of H. pylori.  

Natural Remedies : Cabbage and Banana

What Causes Ulcers?

The following are proven causes of ulcer:

  1. Medication:

Medications such as steroids and NSAIDS are known to cause ulcers. These medications cause ulcer by damaging the gastroduodenal mucosa through the topical irritant effect they have on the epithelium, the impairment of the barrier properties of the mucosa, suppression of gastric prostaglandin synthesis, and the reduction of gastric mucosal blood flow.  

  1. Helicobacter Pylori Bacteria (H. Pylori)

The H. Pylori bacteria is the most popular cause of ulcer in the stomach. It is a bacteria that directly attacks the lining of the stomach. The bacteria can survive even the very acidic nature of the stomach and create a discontinuation in the protective lining of the stomach.  

  1. Increase in Stomach Acid

In some cases, ulcers may not be caused by medication or the H. pylori bacteria but by an increase in stomach acidity. The stomach lining is made up of mucus and bicarbonate. This lining can become weak to withstand the acid secreted by the stomach when they increase. There’s a limit to the resistance that the lining can provide and when the stomach’s acidity increases, resistance of the lining would be greatly reduced.  

Stomach acid increases due to stress, alcohol, excessive caffeine consumption, smoking, spicy foods, and irregular eating.  

Other rare causes of ulcers include:

  1. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
  1. Malignancy (gastric/lung cancer, lymphomas)
  1. Stress (Acute illness, burns, head injury)
  1. Viral infection
  1. Vascular insufficiency
  1. Radiation therapy
  1. Crohn disease
  1. Chemotherapy

How Does Not Eating Cause Ulcers?

Irregular or insufficient eating does not directly induce ulcers but can create a conducive environment for their development. Prolonged periods without eating can trigger increased acid secretion, potentially damaging the protective stomach lining. Additionally, healthy food choices play a vital role in ulcer prevention.

What are the Symptoms of Ulcer?

There are a range of symptoms that indicate the presence of ulcers in the stomach. They include:

  • Epigastric discomfort/pain: This is the pain that occurs below the ribs in the region called the upper abdomen. The pain can be so critical as to prevent a patient from sleeping at night.  
  • Nausea and vomiting: People with ulcer suffer from a condition called “Haematemesis,” where the patient vomits fresh blood. Ulcer patients suffer from nausea and this kind of vomiting.  
  • Melaena: This is a condition whereby the patient stools sticky faeces containing partly digested blood
  • Throwing up coffee ground blood: This condition is related to Melaena but instead of stooling digest blood, the patient vomits it.  
  • Feeling full and bloating: Ulcer patients feel full and experience stomach bloating even when they’ve not eaten  
  • Iron deficiency anemia: This is when the body doesn't have enough iron to produce hemoglobin. Some of its symptoms include brittle nails, paleness, pale skin, weakness, and so on.  

How to Treat Ulcers

Having identified the causes and symptoms of ulcer, it is essential to note that before you begin treating for ulcer, a process called Endoscopy must be carried out. This process is carried out to ensure the symptoms a patient is experiencing is truly ulcer and not something else.  

After an endoscopy confirms the presence of an ulcer, the treatment involves initiating a regimen of anti-acid medications, commonly referred to as proton pump inhibitors. These medications are specifically formulated to suppress the production of stomach acid, allowing the stomach lining ample time to recover from the perforation it has sustained.

Some of the proton pump inhibitors used in treating ulcers include Nexium and Omeprazole.  

What Natural Remedies Can Be Used to Treat Ulcers?

Aside from synthetic drugs used in treating ulcers, there are natural remedies that help to treat ulcers. These natural remedies were identified seeing that synthetic drugs come with some side effects. Moreover, the natural remedies provide more nutrients and a holistic approach to treating ulcers than most synthetic drugs.  

The natural remedies include:

  • Banana: Banana is high in potassium and eating it can induce mucus production in the stomach’s lining. With more mucus induced, the perforation in the stomach lining would be covered considerably.
  • Cabbage: It contains glucosinolates which actively fights H. pylori, the bacteria responsible for causing ulcers. You can take raw cabbage juice made from blending cabbage with water, eating steamed cabbage, fermented cabbage, or eating raw cabbage. Just make sure to not overcook cabbage as you will lose most of the glucosinolates that fight H. pylori.  

Proper Dieting to Prevent Ulcers

Knowing that eating poorly and not eating contributes to ulcer development, I need to show you the dietary requirements and composition to prevent ulcers. Your diet should contain foods high in fiber and low in fat. It should contain the following items:

  1. Fruits
  1. Vegetables
  1. Whole grains
  1. Low-fat, diary foods
  1. Lean meats, chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs
  1. Legumes

You ought to avoid food that has high fat or is salty. Sugary processed foods are a no-no when trying to prevent or treat ulcers. They worsen every attempt to heal the ulcer in the stomach.  

Lifestyle and Ulcer Prevention

Certain lifestyles and actions have a way of increasing your chances of developing an ulcer. Smoking, alcoholism, and stress have been connected to several ulcer cases in the past. These actions are believed to increase the acid secretion in the stomach. For smoking and alcoholism, the recommendation is to quit these vices for the sake of your health.  

On the flip side, adopting effective stress management strategies to reduce stress is important. Exercising regularly, meditating, practicing Yoga, sleeping, taking walks, dancing, and aromatherapy are some of the stress management strategies you can adopt to relieve your body of stress.  

Exercising Caution with Treating Ulcers

In some cases, ulcers can become cancers. Yes. When an ulcer is not responding to treatment or recurs, there’s a serious chance it could be a cancer. Always seek medical attention when you notice the symptoms of ulcer. Do not perform self-medication. Avoid steroids and NSAIDS except you’re taking with a PPI like Omeprazole. Medical guidance is a must when handling ulcers.  

The Bottom Line

Not eating may not directly cause ulcers but they sure promote the development of ulcer. By skipping meals and staying without eating for long hours, your stomach is secreting more acid which will ultimately perforate the mucus-bicarbonate lining of protection in your stomach, causing ulcer.

While it is encouraged to eat regularly, what you eat is also a determinant to whether you prevent or develop ulcers. Eating spicy food and high fat meals, smoking, drinking alcohol, and excessive caffeine intake can increase your chances of developing an ulcer. Eat right to reduce your risk of getting an ulcer.  

Most importantly, when you notice symptoms associated with ulcer, seek medical assistance before taking any step.  

FAQs

Is Yogurt good for ulcers?

Yes. Yogurt is good for treating ulcers. They’ve got “good” bacteria called probiotics which helps in aiding the fight against the H. pylori infection in the stomach.  

Does intermittent fasting cause ulcers?

No, except you are not eating right when you break your fast. If you consume processed foods, acidic beverages, alcohol, high-fat foods, and spicy foods to break your fast, you have a high chance of getting an ulcer. However, fasting intermittently and breaking your fast with fruits, vegetables, low-fat meals, lean meats, and protein will keep ulcers far away from your stomach.

Can one meal a day cause ulcers?

While having only one meal a day does not directly cause ulcers, it may contribute to certain risk factors. Infrequent or irregular meals can lead to excessive stomach acid secretion when food is finally consumed, potentially irritating the stomach lining and worsening existing ulcers. It's important to maintain a balanced and regular eating pattern to promote digestive health and reduce the risk of ulcers.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534792/  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8hOk7jGV8E  

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/stomach-ulcer-diet  

https://www.drugs.com/cg/diet-for-stomach-ulcers-and-gastritis.html

https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-can-i-eat-if-i-have-a-peptic-ulcer-1742154

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