Most peptic ulcers are caused by infection with the bacteria helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Another common cause is the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including acetylsalicylic acid, also known as ASA. Treatment of ulcers focuses on fighting the H. pylori infection with antibiotics and/or decreasing the amount of acid made in the stomach to help lower the pain and help healing.
No food has been shown to cause ulcers, but some may make your symptoms worse or may make it more difficult for your ulcer to heal.
This resource will help you:
- choose foods to help your stomach or intestinal ulcer heal
- avoid foods or beverages that may be irritating or cause you to make more stomach acid.
Steps You Can Take
The following diet suggestions can help you manage your ulcer:
- Use "Canada's Food Guide" www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canada-food-guides.html to help you plan meals using a variety of foods from all 4 food groups. Good nutrition is important for ulcers to heal. Speak with a dietitian to learn how to meet your nutrition needs if you are avoiding foods because they cause you pain or discomfort.
- Aim to include good sources of soluble fibre at each meal. Vegetables, fruits, oatmeal and oat bran, barley, peanut butter, nuts, nut butters, and legumes such as lentils, dried beans, and peas are good sources. A diet high in soluble fibre may help to prevent ulcers from coming back.
- Drink caffeine containing beverages in moderation. The recommendation is no more than 400mg of caffeine per day, which is the same as about three 250 mL (3 cups) of coffee. Caffeine increases stomach acid, but it does not seem to cause ulcers or make their symptoms worse. Refer to Additional Resources for more information on caffeine in foods and beverages.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The recommendation is a limit of 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day on most days, or 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day on most days. A standard drink is equal to:
- 341mL (12oz) of beer (5% alcohol)
- 142mL (5oz) of wine (12% alcohol)
- 43mL (1.5oz) of liquor/spirits (40% alcohol)
- Spicy foods do not cause ulcers, but they may make symptoms worse in some people. If spicy foods bother you, avoid or eat less of them. You can continue to eat spicy foods if they don't cause you discomfort.
- Listen to your body. If there are other foods or beverages that bother you, limit or avoid them. Discuss these with your doctor or health care provider.
- Smoking increases the risk of ulcers and also makes them harder to heal. To get help to quit smoking, call or visit QuitNow at 1-877-455-2233 or QuitNow Services, or talk to your doctor or health care provider.
To learn about quitting smoking, see HealthLinkBC File #30c Quitting Smoking. For information about smoking cessation aids that are available free to British Columbians, visit BC PharmaCare - BC Smoking Cessation Program.
- Talk with your doctor or health care provider about your use of medications containing caffeine, acetylsalicylic acid, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Health Canada's fact sheet "Caffeine in Food" is available at Caffeine in Foods - Food Additives - Health Canada
Last updated: April 2012