H. pylori is a bacteria which is found in saliva and feces. It can be transmitted when you kiss someone, when you shake hands with someone who has not washed their hands properly, or by consuming contaminated water or food. This is the leading cause of stomach ulcers. The bacteria multiply in the lining of the stomach and duodenum, damaging stomach tissue, and can lead to gastritis and/or a gastric ulcer. If left untreated, it can also increase the risk of stomach cancer.
The infection is more prevalent in developing countries and in young children. People who do not have access to safe drinking water or adequate sanitation facilities are more likely to contract H. pylori. In the United States, it is estimated that about 36% of the population lives with H. pylori. However, up to 80% of those infected are asymptomatic. In general, as the infection progresses, patients show more symptoms. Symptoms may include stomach aches (more often a few hours after eating and at night), nausea, vomiting, dark stools (blood in the stool), dyspepsia (burping), loss of appetite, and unintentional weight loss.
The infection can be diagnosed via a breath test, stool sample, or endoscopy. Treatment of an H. pylori infection involves antibiotics in conjunction with proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs. There is no vaccine to prevent the infection but studies are underway to develop one.
Avoiding non-potable water and practicing good hand hygiene is required to prevent the infection. In addition, certain eating habits have been associated with an increased or decreased risk of H. pylori.
A diet that is rich in plant-based whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans) is associated with a decreased risk of H. pylori. Several studies suggest that vitamin C in fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of stomach cancer and prevent the progression of an H. pylori infection. Polyphenols contained in berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries), honey, omega-3 unsaturated fats, olive oil, curcumin (found in turmeric) and garlic have also been studied for their potentially protective effects.
A diet that is high in sodium, refined grains, red meats, processed meats, added sugars, and dried, pickled, or smoked foods is associated with an increased risk of H. pylori. An excessive alcohol intake can also increase the risk of this infection.
Isothiocyanates may exert bactericidal activity against H. pylori. These are compounds found in vegetables of the brassica family, such as broccoli, radishes and vegetables from the cabbage family. A type of isothiocyanate called sulforaphane is found in high concentrations in broccoli, and in even higher concentrations in broccoli sprouts. In a study involving 48 asymptomatic patients with a confirmed H. pylori infection, the daily consumption of 70g of broccoli sprouts for 2 months resulted in a significant decrease in the bacterial colonization when compared to a placebo.
The consumption of fermented foods in relation to H. pylori remains controversial. They contain probiotics that can be protective, but also nitrosamines that can increase the risk of gastric cancer.
Finally, some strains of probiotics may also be helpful. A systematic review of five randomised controlled trials including a total of 1307 subjects demonstrated that the addition of the probiotic Sacharomyces Boulardii to the medical treatment of H. pylori was associated with an increased eradication rate and a decrease in the incidence of gastrointestinal side effects.
In conclusion, a healthy and balanced diet, which includes many plant-based whole foods, and limits processed foods and sodium, is indicated to prevent the development of an H. pylori infection. SOSCuisine’s meal plans can help you to optimize your eating habits.
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