Peptic ulcer refers to an eroded lesion in the gastric intestinal mucosa. An ulcer may form in any part of the digestive tract, which is exposed to acid gastric juice, but is usually found in the stomach and the duodenum. The ulcer located in the stomach is known as gastric ulcer and that located in the duodenum is called duodenal ulcer. Peptic ulcer results from hyperacidity, which is a condition caused by an increase in hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
This strong acid, secreted by the cells lining the stomach, affects much of the breakdown of food. It can be potentially dangerous and, under certain circumstances, it may eat its way through the lining of the stomach or duodenum producing, first, irritation of the stomach wall and eventually an ulcer.
Some fascinating discoveries have recently been made by British and Indian researchers as to how food and food constituents strengthen the stomach’s resistance to harmful ulcer-producing juices. Thus, British investigators detected a 20 per cent thicker stomach lining in animals’ fed with powder made from plantains, the banana-like fruit. Indian researchers photographed the rejuvenation of ulcerated cells in guinea pigs. The healing has resulted from the increased mucins, substances that shield the stomach lining from damage, produced by drinking cabbage juice.
Thus, one way foods can fight ulcers is by strengthening the stomach lining so that it is not easily eaten away by the attacks from acids. Certain foods accomplish this by stimulating the proliferation of cells in the stomach lining. This triggers rapid release of mucus, which cover the cells with a protective coating, thereby sealing them off from harmful effects of acids.
Further, anti-bacterial foods such as curd or yoghurt, cabbage and liquorice may serve as more appropriate medicines for ulcers and gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining, than previously thought. This is because the scientists have discovered that a microbe known as H. Pylori appears to be a cause of peptic ulcer in many cases. Ulcer treatment now often includes antibiotics. Anti-bacterial foods may thus also help in curing ulcer.
FOODS THAT FIGHT STOMACH ULCERS
Almond Milk, Ash Gourd, Banana and Plantain, Cabbage Juice, Fenugreek Seeds, Fiber-Rich Foods, Garlic, Ladys’ Finger or Okra, Lime, Liquorice and Wood Apple.
Milk prepared from almonds possesses anti-ulcer property. It is considered beneficial in the treatment of both gastric and duodenal ulcers. It binds the excess of acid in the stomach and supplies high quality protein. Almond milk is prepared by grinding the blanched almonds to a smooth paste and adding cold boiled water to the consistency of the milk. With the addition of little honey, it makes a delicious and nutritious drink. One kilogram of milk may be obtained from 250 grams of almonds.
Ash gourd, also known as white gourd or wax gourd, is an ash-coloured, large-fruited tyrje vegetable like pumpkin. It is a nutritive and wholesome vegetable. It is an anti-ulcer food. The dilute juice of this vegetable is highly beneficial in the treatment of peptic ulcer. This juice is prepared by adding equal quantity of water to juice of ash gourd squeezed out after grating the raw vegetable. A glass of this juice should be taken daily in the morning on an empty stomach. Foods of all sorts should be avoided for about two or three hours afterwards. This will also relieve inflammation with swelling anywhere in the alimentary canal.
Banana and Plantain
Banana and plantain, the large banana-like fruits, are staple in many tropical countries. They are of great value as an ulcer fighting foods. These fruits possess anti-ulcer property and have long been used in folk medicine to treat ulcers. Indian physicians often prescribe dried powder made from green plantains, to treat ulcers. The success of this treatment is reported to be 70 per cent.
According to British Pharmacist Dr. Ralph Best at the University of Aston in Birmingham, banana stimulate proliferation of cells and mucus that form a stronger barrier between the stomach lining and destructive or eroding acid. In fact, when animals were fed banana powder, researchers observed a visible thickening of the stomach wall. In one Australian test, rats were fed bananas and then high amounts of acid to induce ulcers. They suffered very little stomach damage. The bananas prevented 75 per cent of the expected ulceration.
Banana and milk are considered an ideal diet for the ulcer patients who are in an advanced state of the disease. Dr. A.M. Conell, an eminent nutritionist, discovered that a ripe banana contains serotonin, a chemical which has a marked effect on the excessive secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which usually results in gastric ulcer and gastritis.
In such condition when banana is given with milk, the acid is neutralized by the action of serotonin. The pectin present in banana acts as a mechanical barrier by coating over the inflamed surface and vitamin C helps heal the ulcer quickly. One more advantage of pectin is that it prevents the absorption of toxins produced by the pathogenic organisms by covering the naked surface in the gastro-intestinal tract. Banana also affords a protection against ulcers produced by stress situation.
When plantains are used for treating ulcers, they must be cooked before eating, because they are too hard and tough to eat in raw form. Green plantains are considered more potent medicine for healing ulcers than ripe ones.
Cabbage contains anti-ulcer compounds. It can help heal ulcers. This has been revealed by the experiments conducted by Dr. Garnet Cheney, M.D., a professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, in the 1950s. He demonstrated that just over 850 ml. of fresh cabbage juice every day relieved pain and healed both gastric and duodenal ulcers better and faster than standard medical treatments.
In a test, he made 55 patients drink cabbage juice. About 95 per cent felt better within two to five days. X-rays and gastroscopy revealed a rapid healing of gastric ulcers in only one-quarter of the average time. The duodenal ulcers of patients who were given cabbage juice also healed in one-third the usual time.
Cabbage juice appears to act by strengthening the stomach lining’s resistance to acid attacks. Cabbage contains gefarnate, a compound used as an anti-ulcer drug, as well as a chemical that resembles carbenoxolone, another sparingly used anti-ulcer drug. Essentially, the drugs incites cells to draw out a thin mucus barrier as a shield against acid attacks.
Dr. G. B. Singh, of Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow, induced ulcers in guinea pigs and cured them with cabbage juice. During the healing, he took extensive microscopic photos of the cell changes. These changes revealed that cabbage juice generated increased mucus activity that rejuvenated ulcerated cells leading to healing. To render the juice more palatable, Dr. Cheney often mixed celery juice, extracted both from stalk and greens, with pineapple juice, tomato juice or citrus juice. Chilling the mixed juice also helps improve the flavor. The juice, however, should not be taken all at once, but at many intervals throughout the day. If one does not have a juicer or blender, one can nibble on raw cabbage four or five times a day.