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Helicobacter Pylori Diet

By Chelsea Flahive, RDN, LD ; Updated August 14, 2017

Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, is a type of bacteria that causes peptic ulcers by damaging the lining of of the stomach and small intestine. It can be spread from person to person through exposure to vomit, fecal matter, contaminated food, or a contaminated water source, or by close contact. H. pylori is treated with antibiotics. Proper diet can correct deficiencies caused by H. pylori.

Cruciferous Vegetables

If you have H. pylori, you are at an increased risk for developing gastric cancer. A study published by "Cancer Causes & Controls" in 2009 found that as vegetable intake increases, the risk for cancer decreases in individuals with H. pylori. Cruciferous vegetables provide protection of the gastric mucosa that line the stomach and small intestine. They are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K, folate and minerals, and they are also protective against cancer. Examples of cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, arugula and rutabaga. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.

Iron and Vitamin B-12

H. pylori can cause malabsorption of iron and vitamin B-12, leading to iron deficiency anemia and pernicious anemia. Often, once the H. pylori bacteria is cleared by antibiotics, the body is once again able to absorb iron and vitamin B-12. However, your doctor may recommend supplements or consuming iron-rich foods to bring your iron levels up to normal. Foods rich in iron and vitamin B-12 are meat, poultry, beans, and enriched breakfast cereals and breads.

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Limit Salt

Having a preference for salt along with H. pylori may put you at a greater risk for developing gastric cancer. The authors of an article published in "The Journal of Epidemiology" in 2003 concluded that a high-salt diet may enhance the effect of H. pylori infection in gastric cancers. Lower your salt intake by avoiding foods high in salt such as canned goods and salted snack foods such as chips and pretzels. Don’t keep the salt shaker at the dinner table, and season your foods with salt-free spices.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C may speed up the healing of the lining of your stomach and decrease the side effects of treatment to get rid of H. pylori. Once H. pylori is cleared from your system, vitamin C may also decrease the number of precancerous changes in the stomach. Vitamin C can be found most abundantly in citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes. It’s also found in red peppers and other vegetables.

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