Ulcers are sores in the lining of the digestive tract. Contrary to popular belief, ulcers don’t only occur in the stomach, wherein this type of ulcer is called gastric ulcer. It can also occur in the esophagus and in the duodenum. These ulcers are called esophageal ulcer and duodenal ulcer respectively.
Duodenal ulcer, in the western world, is the most common ulcer to be diagnosed. Esophageal ulcers are somewhat less common and is associated with a severe case of acid reflux or gastro esophageal reflux a.k.a. GERD.
There is also what we call a peptic ulcer. It can occur anywhere. It is any ulcer that is exposed to pepsin. So a gastric or duodenal ulcer can also be considered peptic ulcers.
What are the causes of ulcer? It can be linked to food and proper hygiene. It was even believed that consuming to much acidic food causes ulcer, but actually, it is all because of one bacteria – the Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori. These bacteria attack the lining of your stomach, which protects you from the acidic digestive juices. Once it has done enough damage, the digestive juices are then free to wreak havoc in the unprotected tissue.
How can it be prevented? The simplest way to do so would be to keep proper hygiene, reducing the risks of increasing the amount of H. pylori in your body.
How can it be treated? If you don’t like pain, make sure to avoid acidic food that may trigger it. Alcohol, coffee and high amounts of sodium which is abundant in salt. Alcohol and coffee increase the production of gastric acids. Meanwhile, sodium can irritate the linings. Drinking lots of water can also help.
Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are a very effective natural treatment for ulcer. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in these fish, increase the production of prostaglandins which are compounds that protect the walls of the digestive tract.
Antioxidants, commonly found in fruits and vegetables also help lower ulcer risks the same way omega-3 fatty acids do. They can also relieve symptoms of ulcer. Food rich in amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are proven to help repair the damaged stomach linings. Almonds, cheddar cheese, sunflower and sesame seeds are rich in amino acids.
Also, though spicy food has been known to aggravate acidity, it only applies to processed products. Fresh chilies and peppers, like jalapenos and bell peppers, are good to eat. But jalapenos are recommended because the amount of the active compound that brings the anti-ulcer property, capsaicin, is very negligible in bell peppers.