Ulcers can be extremely painful and disruptive to daily life. While there are medications that can help treat ulcers, many people look to home remedies and lifestyle changes as additional ways to find relief. The foods and beverages you choose to consume can have a significant impact on ulcer symptoms. Read on to learn about some of the best drinks for healing ulcers.
How ulcers form
Before exploring ulcer-healing drinks, it’s helpful to understand how ulcers develop in the first place. Ulcers form when there is an imbalance between digestive fluids in the stomach and intestine and the mucus layer that protects the lining of these organs. This allows the digestive fluids to erode the tissue, leading to sores or lesions. The two most common causes of this imbalance are:
- Infection with the bacteria H. pylori. This accounts for around 60% of ulcer cases.
- Frequent and prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin. This accounts for around 30% of ulcer cases.
Other contributing factors include smoking, excessive alcohol use, extreme stress, radiation exposure, trauma, and rare disorders like Zollinger-Ellison syndrome that increase stomach acid production.
How diet affects ulcers
Dietary changes are often recommended as part of the treatment plan for ulcers. Certain foods and drinks can aggravate ulcers by increasing stomach acid production. These include:
- Coffee and other caffeinated beverages
- Carbonated beverages
- Spicy, fried, or fatty foods
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Tomatoes and tomato-based products
A bland diet is typically recommended during an active ulcer flare-up. This involves limiting acidic, spicy, and irritating foods. However, research shows that while a bland diet helps relieve ulcer symptoms, it does not speed up healing.
Best drinks for ulcer healing
When it comes to choosing beverages, there are several good options that can help promote ulcer healing without irritation. These include:
Staying hydrated by drinking adequate water is important for overall health and ulcer healing. Water helps dilute stomach acid and keeps the mucus coating strong.
- Aim for 8-10 glasses of plain water per day.
- Avoid carbonated water, which can cause gas and bloating.
- Drink water between meals rather than with meals to dilute acid without interfering with digestion.
- Sip water slowly rather than gulping it down.
- Drink enough to keep your urine pale yellow in color.
Certain herbal teas have properties that may be beneficial for ulcer healing:
- Chamomile tea – Has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that help protect the stomach lining.
- Peppermint tea – Helps relax stomach muscles to ease spasms and discomfort.
- Marshmallow root tea – Contains mucilage that coats and protects the stomach lining.
- Slippery elm tea – Forms a gel-like lining over ulcers to allow healing.
- Licorice tea – Soothes inflammation and increases protective mucus production.
Avoid any herbal teas that contain stimulants like caffeine or ephedra, which can exacerbate ulcers.
Drinking milk can help buffer stomach acid and provide protein for wound healing. Fat-free or low-fat milk is best. Some tips for incorporating milk:
- Have a glass of milk with meals or snacks.
- Use milk in smoothies, protein shakes, hot cereal, or soups.
- Stick to 1-2 cups per day to avoid gastrointestinal issues.
- Opt for lactose-free milk if you are lactose intolerant.
Aloe vera juice
Aloe vera juice contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help heal ulcers. It also may reduce gastric acid production. Keep these tips in mind:
- Use pure aloe vera juice, not versions loaded with added sugar.
- Drink 2-4 ounces of aloe vera juice daily.
- Take the juice on an empty stomach or at least 30 minutes before meals.
- Stop drinking if diarrhea develops.
Fresh vegetable juices made from low-acid veggies provide nutrients and antioxidants for healing. Good vegetable juice options include:
Avoid vegetable juices with added acid like tomato or citrus juices. Limit juice to 4-6 ounces per day and drink only during active healing.
Although green tea contains some caffeine, it is lower in caffeine than other true teas or coffee. In moderation, it may help ulcers through these mechanisms:
- Its polyphenols have anti-inflammatory effects.
- It may inhibit H. pylori growth.
- The amino acid theanine helps protect the stomach lining.
Limit green tea to 1-2 cups per day, avoiding any closer to bedtime. Choose decaffeinated versions if caffeine aggravates your ulcers.
Foods that heal ulcers
In addition to healing beverages, there are many ulcer-friendly foods to incorporate into your diet. These provide key nutrients to support your gut health.
|Oats||Soluble fiber forms a protective barrier and provides antioxidants|
|Leafy greens||Fiber, folate, and magnesium aid healing|
|Garlic||Allicin compound has antimicrobial effects|
|Yogurt with live cultures||Probiotics improve gut health and fight H. pylori|
|Lean proteins||Protein helps repair damaged tissue|
|Blueberries||Antioxidants reduce inflammation and protect the stomach|
A balanced, ulcer-friendly diet should focus on nutrient-dense whole foods while limiting irritating foods like spices, caffeine, alcohol, and anything acidic.
Lifestyle changes for ulcer healing
Making certain lifestyle adjustments can also create an environment that facilitates ulcer healing:
- Quit smoking – Smoking impairs ulcer healing and increases risk of recurrent ulcers.
- Decrease alcohol – Alcohol is an irritant that can worsen ulcer symptoms.
- Manage stress – High stress levels increase stomach acid production.
- Improve sleep habits – Lack of sleep can disrupt the gut microbiome balance.
- Take ulcer medications – Adhere properly to prescribed ulcer medications.
Work closely with your healthcare provider to ensure you are addressing the root cause of your ulcer, whether it is H. pylori infection or NSAID use. Antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors help decrease stomach acid production so ulcers can heal.
When to seek medical care
While home remedies can complement your ulcer treatment plan, it is essential that you see a doctor for an evaluation. Seek prompt medical care if you experience any of the following:
- Severe or unrelenting ulcer pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Vomiting or vomiting blood
- Stools that appear black or bloody
- Dizziness, weakness, or fainting
These can be signs of a serious complication such as perforation, bleeding, or obstruction requiring urgent medical care. Left untreated, ulcers can even lead to cancer in rare cases.
Certain beverages like herbal tea, milk, and aloe vera juice can help heal ulcers when part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Stay hydrated, follow an ulcer-friendly diet, take medications as prescribed, and seek medical care if any concerning symptoms arise. With proper care, most ulcers can be healed in 4-8 weeks.