What is it?
Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria infection found in the stomach. H. pylori cause more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and up to 80% of gastric ulcers. (1) About 50% of the world’s population is infected with H pylori. H pylori can be diagnosed through several tests, endoscopy, blood test, stool test, and breath test. (2)
The CDC recommends that people with gastric or duodenal ulcers be tested for H. pylori, and if found to be infected, they should be treated with antibiotics. The CDC also notes that there has been no conclusive evidence that antibiotic treatment of H. pylori infection in patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia is warranted. (3) The ulcers that H. pylori can lead to significantly increase the risk of gastric cancers.
What are the most common symptoms?
The most common symptoms associated with H Pylori are abdominal pain or burning with or without food but that is often more pronounced on an empty stomach, nausea, loss of appetite, frequent burping, and bloating are also common. (5)
Risk factors and susceptibility
Let’s reduce stress and implement self-care measures!
Several studies show that long term stress, anxiety, and depression contribute to the increased risk of acquiring H pylori and the development of the mucosal changes leading to ulcers. (6) (7)
Inflammatory foods, low antioxidant intake, nutritional deficiencies, especially B12 all increase susceptibility to H pylori! (8) (9)
Kissing, eating, and drinking oh my!
The greatest risk factor in acquiring H pylori is contracting it from someone you live with who has it and may or may not know they even have it. H pylori are easily passed through kissing and even sharing the same cup or fork. If anyone in your house is having similar symptoms encourage them to consider an H pylori test. While you are on your protocol refrain from sharing food and drink with others. (10) (11)
Commonly prescribed medical treatment of H pylori is a combination of 1 to 3 different antibiotics combined with antacids and H2 blockers like Zantac, proton pump inhibitors like Omeprazole. (12) People often report a faster recovery and greater ease in symptoms and better outcomes overall when they also include dietary changes to aid in the inhibition of H pylori and in the repair of gastric damage and irritation. For those who are positive for the H pylori bacteria but do not have the presence of ulcers or gastritis, dietary measures give actionable solutions to inhibiting the infection, preventing its advancement, and supporting and protecting the mucosal lining of the stomach in lieu of prescription treatment since the CDC recommends treatment only for those with active ulcers (13) (14)
Most important foods to avoid with H Pylori
Alcohol can slow the healing of ulcers. Alcohol is generally inflammatory and can erode the stomach lining. (15) It is also often be contraindicated for many of the medications used in the treatment for H pylori.
Many of the compounds in coffee like caffeine and the various acids found in coffee beans can irritate the stomach lining. Additionally, the acidic effect coffee has on the stomach may contribute to providing the weakened stomach lining necessary for H. pylori to infect in the first place!
High dietary salt intake is also a risk factor for gastric cancer and exacerbates the effects of a present H pylori infection on the mucosal lining, increasing risks of cellular inflammation and mutations.
The caffeine, sugar, carbonation, acidity, and artificial ingredients in soda can exacerbate the bloating and stomach discomfort associated with H pylori.
- Processed packaged food products and meats
Processed foods especially high in sugar, trans fats as well as processed meats can increase the GI inflammation and the symptoms associated with H pylori infection.
Your “food prescription” list
Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food
Broccoli sprouts contain a compound called Sulforaphane, it is known for its antioxidant and anti-cancer actions. Broccoli sprouts are also a very potent and selective antibiotic against H. pylori! One research study found that 78 percent of subjects with H pylori who consumed broccoli sprouts two times per day for a week tested negative for H. pylori at the end of the seven days! (28) (29)
How to eat these little magic sprouts?
Throw broccoli sprouts onto a salad, in a sandwich, burrito, garnish on top of avocado toast, soup, or any final dish, add it to smoothies or blend 1/2 cup of broccoli sprouts, with 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup of filtered water, and/ice for a potent healing tonic! (17)
All cruciferous vegetable and in particular cabbage has been shown to inhibit the growth of H pylori. Cabbage juice and fresh sauerkraut have long been used in healing ulcers and h pylori-induced gastritis. (31)
How to eat this crunchy cruciferous?
Add chopped raw cabbage to salads, tacos, and sandwiches, and bowls. Saute cabbage, top any dish with sauerkraut. For the ultimate food as medicine therapeutic tonic to bid H pylori farewell make cabbage juice daily or at least several times a week, you can add 1/2 to 1 whole head of cabbage, 1 apple, 1 lemon, and 1 inch of either fresh ginger or turmeric. (18)
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Olive oil is a Helicobacter pylori specific natural antibacterial because of its contents of certain phenolic compounds. (32) Additionally provides an overall reduction in inflammation, protection against ulcer formation and reduced risk of gastritis.
How to incorporate this healing oil?
Make sure it is extra virgin and you keep it uncooked for the full benefits! Add liberal amounts to salads, drizzle into soups, and on top of final dishes. Consider taking a TB a day of olive oil for a couple of weeks for even more therapeutic power. (19)
Antioxidant and antibacterial compounds found in green tea have been shown to inhibit the growth of H Pylori. Green tea is not onIy useful in aiding the inhibition of the bacteria but in the prevention of its occurrence or recurrence. (34)
How to incorporate this tonic:
Just enjoy it hot or cold. You can also add matcha green tea powder to smoothies and chia puddings. (21)
The antibacterial effect of honey has been used traditionally by Nutritionists and Herbalists to reduce levels of H pylori. Studies point to the antibacterial properties against H pylori of many strains of honey and especially Manuka honey.
How to incorporate this golden remedy:
Add honey to tea, drizzle over fruit, make fresh teas of Manuka with fresh ginger or turmeric. mix into coconut manna and add a pinch of cinnamon for a spread over apples, toast or eat by the spoon. (21)
Compounds in Strawberry inhibit the growth of H. pylori Among other compounds the ellagic acid in strawberries deactivated carcinogens that lead to esophageal and stomach cancers. Nutritionists often recommend strawberries and/or strawberry powder to aid in the repair of inflammation of the esophagus. One study showed that patients with precancerous lesions walked away without a trace of the disease after eating strawberries every day for 6 months! Food as medicine indeed!
How to add more of the easiest medicine for the gut you will ever take?
Eat them on their own, blend them into smoothies, add to salads and hot cereals. Can also add the freeze-dried strawberry powder to water, tea, and smoothies for additional therapeutic value. (22)
Cranberries and cranberry juice have been shown to inhibit the growth of H. pylori. In the same way, it inhibits the bacteria that cause UTI’s, its anti-adhesion activity against H. pylori makes it particularly valuable!
How to add this magic red bullet?
Add frozen cranberries or cranberry powder to smoothies, juice fresh cranberries, with some fresh apples, and add ice! buy unsweetened cranberry juice, dilute it with water and take once to twice a day as a tonic, yes it will be tart but oh so healing. (23)
Mastic is a resin from the stem and the main leaves of a small evergreen shrub called Pistacia lentiscus. Clinically, mastic gum has antibacterial activity against H. pylori and is a very effective treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers.
How to incorporate this ancient resin?
Mastic gum is used as a food ingredient in some traditional Mediterranean dishes, especially desserts in some parts of the world, especially Turkey and Greece, originally the main ingredient in chewing gum. I also recommend the supplement form which can be found at health food stores and through natural product e-taliers. (24) You can also make this refreshing fresca recipe incorporating chia and sage with mastic! (25)
Sage and Mastic Chia Fresca
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 tablespoons dried sage
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mastic (4-5 medium-sized “teardrops”)
- 3 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 5 cups cold water
- 1 paper coffee filter or a small piece of cheesecloth and some thread
- Ground mastic with a mortar or another heavy object and put it in the middle of a cheese cloth or coffee filter, wrap it, and secure it with thread.
- Boil a cup of water and add sage, mastic, and sweetener. Let them steep for 10 minutes and massage mastic-pouch to release as much flavor as possible.
- Strain into a large jar and add 5 cups cold water and chia seeds. Stir well to combine and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Serve with lemon slices, shake or stir and drink!
You can also buy mastic gum as a supplement, this simple supplement can get to work immediately at inhibiting H pylori and removing all the related reflux symptoms!