Ulcer medically means a wound that does not heal and becomes ulcerated. It is a sore that forms in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine and it is researched to be majorly caused by helicobacter pylori (H. pylori); a bacteria that attacks this lining. This bacteria however is not the only thing that can cause ulcer. Chronic use of NSAIDs is also an agent of ulcers. Forgetfulness and negligence can also lead to ulcer.
People tend to get so busy that they forget to respect their food on time. This forgetfulness gives birth to a habit of neglect for food or a balanced diet in general. The stomach has hydrochloric acid to enable digestion and it follows a chain pattern to get realized at some certain time. Now when there is no food in the stomach, it ends up burning the stomach lining, creating a path for ulcer.
Ulcers are classified into three categories:
Oesophageal ulcers are ulcers that develop in the oesophagus.
Peptic Ulcer develops in the stomach lining or small intestine.
Duodenal Ulcer is a type of peptic ulcer and it is formed in the upper small intestine.
The Best Way To Handle Living with Ulcer Patients
Almost every household (either nuclear or within the extended) have people who are victims of ulcer. As someone who grew up around these patients, a lot of adjusting and getting-used-to in our kitchen menu was something that was inculcated into me at quite a young age.
For instance, we could not be using pepper (attarugu) for soups or stew and even with other options. We had to ensure the meal prepared isn’t pepperish in any way. When it’s that time of the year (Ramadan), pap is the constant, “kunun tsamiya” was a limited variety. This is all because the body system of people with Ulcer does not react to situations the same way with ordinary people. They can’t wake up and decide they want to eat anything and everything thing out there. Even if they want to, their stomach would not grant them that liberty. Some food options are always a gamble for them.
Usually, this set of people come out surprisingly stubborn to their predicament because living with ulcer means given up on a lot of things that make eating food interesting (pepper for instance). So, you’ll find them bending and breaking all the necessary actions that are supposed to keep them off triggering their wounds.
The most common symptom of ulcer is a burning or gnawing pain in the stomach (between the breastbone and belly button),then nausea and a lack of appetite.
Here are ways to keep people living with ulcer healthy and out of attacks
1. They Should Not Starve
One of the many reasons people end up with Ulcer is that they get so busy they forget about food. Naturally, if you go long hours without food, at some point you’ll hear your stomach growling, and the pangs joining later. You should always make sure they stay away from angering their predicament by making them eat three times daily; breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
This should also follow a healthy timing because some people will eat breakfast at 9 then lunch at 5. For ulcer patients, their eating timetable should be; breakfast by 7-9 am, lunch should be around 2 pm and dinner should follow at 7-8 pm.
Snacking can happen in between the mealtimes but it’s of importance you try to adhere to these timings especially when living with ulcer patients. You are sure to witness improvement.
2. Lots of Watermelons!
Fruit is naturally a good monitor to our health but when it comes to ulcer patients, nothing can beat a sweet ripened watermelon. So, if they end up staying too long in a meeting, the market, etc. and they miss the appointed time lunch, watermelon is a great thing to have before the main deal. It makes peace with the stomach first, then the main food can stomp in without causing any harm.
Also, if it’s time for fasting, the second thing they should eat immediately after breaking their fast is watermelon, water being the first. It’ll be healthier for them to make watermelon a daily habit. My momma never makes the mistake of breaking her fast without watermelon for she knows the kind of consequences that follows are things she does not enjoy.
3. They Should Eat Bananas
Sitoindosides in dried, unripe banana increases mucus in the digestive tract which provides a strong coating to help prevent and heal ulcer.
There was a time in my life I made the habit of getting my mom watermelon and banana each time I was out. You should totally do the same with your beloved patients.
4. Limit Spicy and Oily Food
Have you experienced what it is like to add salt to open wounds? Pepper has the same effect on ulcers which is why you’ll hear people living with ulcer complain of explicit pains each time they eat their food peppery. Always take out the inside of every agent of pepper before making their food.
This will in turn reduce the rate at which pepper becomes pronounced in the final meal. Fried food or food with too much ulcer should not be their average reality. Living with ulcer means no pepper and less vegetable oil.
5. Cut off Carbonated and Caffeinated Drinks
Sodas and Colas irritate the stomach, this is because of the phosphoric acids in them. Drinks like coca-cola, sprite, caffeinated coffees should be kept out of their sight.
I’ve heard countless doctors tell their patients during consultations to stay away from soft drinks for it does more harm than good.
6. Avoid Alcohol and Smoking
Whether it’s weed or shisha or even cardboard, an ulcer patient should stay away from smoking completely. Smoking is naturally a harmful thing to our human bodies then imagine smoking when you’re already not 100% per cent healthy.
Meanwhile, alcohol increases acid production and exacerbates symptoms in individuals. Alcohol erodes the protective mucosal lining along the gastrointestinal tract which leads to further inflammation. So alcohol and smoking is a no-no for people living with ulcer.
7. Stay off NSAIDs
Ibuprofen, diclofenac amongst others can cause damage to gastroduodenal mucus, reduction to gastric mucosal blood flow and interferes with the repair of superficial injury. It also causes impairment of the barrier properties of the mucus.
NSAIDs translates to Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and you shouldn’t give it to an ulcer patient for temporal relief because it does more harm than good.
Doctors are to be consulted before any drug prescription.
8. Feed Them Vitamin A
Foods with vitamin A increases the production of mucus in the gastrointestinal tract. So, vitamin A carriers like broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes are a must for a diet rich in vitamin A reduces the development of ulcer.
9. Lots of Water and Honey
Warm water has a soothing effect on the wound this is why its consumption is encouraged, likewise honey.
My sister used to have this funny craving for honey. She uses it to butter her bread instead of normal butter/cheese, she fetches a spoonful and just throws it into her mouth, and sometimes, she dilutes honey into lukewarm water before drinking. For someone who doesn’t fancy honey, I find her actions weird but apparently, she knows what works well for her body and predicament.
10. Ulcer Patients Should Take Lots of Cabbage
Scientist thinks that it may be the amino acid gluten that gives cabbage it anti-ulcer punch because it does not just prevent healing, it speeds healing. So, get those cabbage and start making them salads and juices.
11. Avoid Them Taking Acidic Foods
Fruits like lemons and pineapple do more harm than they are beneficial to ulcer. Foods that have a sour taste should be regulated. For instance “kunun tsamiya”, you either break down the amount of tamarind to be used while making it or you don’t allow them to drink it.
12. Milk is Bad For Ulcer Patients
This only provides a temporal relief of symptoms because it coats the stomach lining temporarily also, its slight alkaline gives it antacid property. In the long run, however, milk and milk products increase acid secretion, digestive enzymes which aggravate ulcer, making symptoms worse. It is a rich source of protein after all so it’s best if its intake is kept on a low level (say once daily). Yoghurt however is believed to be good for ulcer.
Food like garri and yam causes heartburn and takes a longer time to digest due to their dryness. So it’s either you serve people living with ulcer really overcooked yam while refilling their glass of water every minute or, you don’t serve that to them at all.
Ulcer can heal but the rate at which its victims do not enjoy following doctor’s orders and the above tips on living with ulcer makes it healing process close to the impossible mission.