H pylori infections are relatively common. Some people develop nasty symptoms, whereas others do not. The majority of people who do develop symptoms experience problems in the upper GI tract, such as heartburn, bloating and stomach pain, though some may also develop lower GI symptoms such as diarrhea.
What many folk don’t realize is that a number of commonly eaten foods can cause exactly the same – or similar – symptoms as H pylori. This can lead to confusion. First, H pylori can be successfully eradicated only for symptoms to remain if these irritating foods are not avoided. Second, symptoms can all go away when people avoid these foods, even when H pylori is still present.
Thus, eradicating H pylori and overcoming symptoms are not necessarily the same thing! Unfortunately, the medical system does not address foods and diet when treating patients who have H pylori. But think about it: the foods that you put in your mouth day in, day out, are sure to influence the health of your gut.
Fortunately, it’s relatively simple to avoid these trouble-causing foods, as long as you know the what alternative foods are available.
In a previous article on this topic, I explained how gluten, coffee and soy-based foods can all irritate the stomach and intestinal lining in much the same way as H pylori does. Gluten and soy, in particular, are enormous problem foods. The author is allergic to soy, develops flatulence and loose stools when eating it and can attest first hand to the problems this so-called health food can cause.
Three more foods that can act as major irritants to the gut are cow’s milk, especially when heavily processed, spicy foods and polyunsaturated oils from seeds and nuts.
Cow’s milk is actually the number one allergy causing food on the planet. It presents a conundrum because some people do very well consuming cow’s milk products. However some people are very sensitive to the sugar (lactose) and protein (casein) in milk, developing digestive symptoms, skin problems and other symptoms when they consume milk.
I recommend my clients avoid cow’s milk for 60-days, then reintroduce it, noting how they feel. In the meantime, I recommend they consume goat and sheep’s milk products, which tend to be more compatible with the human gut.
Because H pylori damages the delicate lining of the digestive system – particularly the stomach and upper intestine – spicy foods can exacerbate irritation in those areas.
However, there is a caveat here, which is that certain spices, including chilli of all things, can have anti-H pylori properties.
Again, I recommend to my clients that avoid spicy food if it causes problems, but if they feel OK eating spices, I tend to encourage their use from a therapeutic perspective.
This is probably the most controversial topic because seed and nut oils are heavily promoted as being healthy options and should replace the likes of butter.
This is false, dogmatic information. Seeds oils such as sunflower, safflower, corn, soybean and nut oils are damaging to the body, especially when consumed at levels seen in today’s society. They interfere with the body’s ability to make energy, disrupt thyroid gland function and oxidize readily in the body, setting the scene for cancer and heart disease.
Specifically, these oils affect the gut by down-regulating the activity of certain enzymes that help break down food. When food is not broken down properly, it can be putrefied in the gut, causing wind, bloating, loose stools or constipation.
I recommend coconut oil, olive oil (which has a different composition to the other vegetable and seed oils) and organic goat’s butter as optimal sources of dietary fat.
Olive oil has been shown to have anti-H pylori properties and coconut oil contains lauric acid, which also has anti-H pylori activity. Thus, not only are these oils non-disruptive to the gut, they may also assist in killing the H pylori.
In summary, if you have H pylori, avoiding cow’s milk for 60-days and removing spicy foods may assist in quickly reducing digestive symptoms. Avoiding seed oils such as sunflower, safflower, corn and soybean oil has the potential to improve all aspects of your health.