Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion Made Easy
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Written by John Immel
H pylori not only causes ulcers, but affects your health in many ways. It irritates the lining of the stomach, causing inflammation. Chronic H pylori causes permanent damage to the stomach (atrophic gastritis), causing loss of stomach function and poor secretion of stomach acids. When infected, your ability to digest food diminishes over time, meaning you get less and less nourishment from your food. Eradicating H pylori can be an important way to both improve your digestion and maintain your health and vitality as you age. H pylori ability to cause stomach cancer earned it a notorious distinction as the only bacterium recognised as a Grade 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organisation.Many Hp infected individuals have little or no symptoms, despite the presence of inflammation. Others will experience a chronic ache or burning pain in the abdomen that does not wax or wane with eating. Sometimes the pain masquerades as mild nausea. You can check for pain by pressing your fingers against your stomach, as in the diagram at right. And, by pressing into your upper GI, directly above the belly button.
Despite feeling hungry, poor acid production in indivduals infected by H pylori reduces appetite. Your stomach may feel bloated and heavy after only a small portion. Appetite is also reduced in Hp (H pylori) infected individuals due to lower ghrelin levels. Ghrelin is known as the hunger hormone. The mechanism of ghrelin suppression is not known however the suppression of ghrelin may not be unique to H pylori. Infection and inflammation of the stomach generally reduces appetite. I.e. you lose your appetite when sick. Leptin, the satiation hormone, is also lower in Hp infected individuals. Thus, while appetite is decreased, so are feeling of fullness after a meal. After eradication of H pylori, ghrelin levels return to normal. 
Your esophagus may feel hot & sour even in the absence of acid reflux or heartburn. If you have H pylori, you may have frequent burping and bloating as activity of the bacteria releases carbon dioxide.
Although believed to be transmitted through saliva, vomit or fecal matter (oral-oral and fecal-oral routes), the method of transmission of H pylori is still poorly understood. Sharing drinks, kissing or living with someone who has H pylori may be common ways of catching this disease. Once established, H pylori is hardy and resilient. The infection is generally believed to persist for life unless it is treated. H pylori may spontaneously disappear in the elderly as the stomach's mucosa becomes thinner and inhospitable.
The number of those infected varies by country. Countries with good sanitation have lower rates of infection. Those traveling to developing nations face greater risk of infection. Prevalence also varies by race, age, and socio economic status. In the United States, H pylori affects 60% of Hispanics, 54% of African Americans, and 20% to 29% of Anglo Americans. Kids are also more likely to contract the disease. There are many ways to test for H pylori infection. A blood test for antibodies is a common inexpensive method. However, it shows a positive result for past infections as well as current infections. Stool and breath tests are more reliable for a current infection.
The 'H' of H. pylori is short for Helicobacter. Helico means spiral. H. pylori's spiral shape helps it burrow into the mucus layer coating the stomach, where it is protected from immune cells and lethal stomach acids. There, H. pylori uses its threadlike tendrils to attach itself close to the stomach lining, where it enjoys a relatively neutral pH environment. Adherence to the stomach wall also protects the bacteria from being flushed away by peristalsis or mucus turnover. In people producing large amounts of acids, H pylori avoids the acid-producing parietal cells of the upper stomach and instead colonizes the pyloric antrum (exit of the stomach). In those with less acid, H. pylori colonizes the entire stomach. Occasionally, H. pylori burrows inside the cells of the lining itself, where it is impervious to antimicrobials.
To borrow into the mucosa, it also releases chemicals that degrade the mucus gel structure, effectively liquefying the protective mucus layer of the stomach. The degradation of mucus exposes gastric tissue to caustic acids. These acids, ammonia, as well as other oxidising waste products produced by H pylori cause inflammation of gastric tissue (gastritis), erosion (ulcers) and damage to DNA, leading to increased risk of stomach cancer. Inflammation is present in all individuals with H. pylori infections, even patients without symptoms. Chronic gastritis may result in loss of acid-producing cells and reduced stomach function (atrophic gastritis).
Many doctors believe that testing and treatment of H pylori is not necessary unless symptoms are present. This is because Hp infected individuals have lower rates of asthma, food allergies and IBD. This is due to the fact that H pylori colonizes the stomach mucosa, not the stomach itself. Since the immune system recognizes that H pylori is not an invader, the immune system 'backs off' so to speak. The voluntary retreat of the immune system is adaptive, otherwise everyone would have some form of inflammatory bowel disease simply due to the large number of bacteria present in the intestines. Instead, the body simply suppresses this response to bacteria that colonize the GI.
Specifically, H pylori has been shown to protect against inflammation from Shigella and Salmonella attacks as well as inflammatory bowel diseases in general. Salmonella is a potentially fatal disease that was responsible for the fall of Athens and the rise of Sparta. Thus, having a H pylori infection may be a selective advantage. Other organisms in the gut were found to dampen inflammation caused by H pylori. The presence of C difficile, for example, was shown to reduce H pylori related inflammation in mice.
Doctors may recommend bismuth salts (such as Pepto Bismol ?), yogurt or probiotics containing lactobacillus, and herbs to enhance the effect of the antibiotics and aid in eradication. Bismuth salts have been used for over three centuries to cure various forms of dyspepsia due to their antimicrobial action and ability to soothe & coat the stomach. Although bismuth salts may suppress an active H pylori infection, cure rates are low.
The presence of infection in the gut causes buildup of free radicals released by the immune system to combat the bacteria. Antioxidant supplements are thus supportive for individuals with H pylori infection. One such antioxidant is vitamin C, naturally found in many berries as well as the ayurvedic herb amalaki. Vitamin C levels were found to be significantly lower in individuals with H pylori infection. Improving vitamin C levels led to eradication of H pylori in 30% of cases , .
Antimicrobials such as ginger, cinnamon, garlic, oregano & turmeric can inhibit H pylori growth. Antimicrobial herbs are especially useful if they are anti-inflammatories as well, such as barberry, turmeric, fresh ginger, and cinnamon. Cinnamon extract also interferes with H pylori's ability to use urea for protection against stomach acids. Fresh ginger also promotes regeneration of the protective mucus layer . Licorice root may be soothing and cooling. Green tea has been shown to block adhesion of H pylori to the stomach lining.
A Japanese study suggests that broccoli sprouts can reduce the presence of H pylori antigenin stool tests by 40%, indicating reduced presence of infection. The use of broccoli sprouts over mature heads is preferred because sprouts are higher in sulfurophane, an anti-bacterial compound believed to be behind the results. However, stool antigen returned to pre-treatments levels within 8 weeks.
From bismuth salts, to broccoli, most supplements reduce H pylori infection, inflammation, and ulcers only, but have not been proven in scientific studies as a reliable method for eradication. I.e. the infection returns after the supplement is stopped. Furthermore, many alternative therapies showed promising results in vitro (meaning in a test tube) but these results did not transfer over to in vivo (meaning in a live person) studies. Numerous website make wild claims about the effectiveness of alternative therapies based up these in vitro studies. Given the increasing resistance of H pylori to antibiotics, these alternative therapies may be helpful to quell infection long enough for an ulcer to heal. Additionally, these therapies may possibly be used in conjunction with antibiotics to improve eradication rates.
Additionally, avoid the following when you have an H pylori infection
|Digestive Irritants||Avoid smoking, alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods because they are digestive irritants.|
|Stress||Avoid stress because it increases acid levels in the stomach.|
|Aromatic||Aromatic herbs are herbs that emit a strong aroma, such as mint. Aromatics destroy the stomach mucus lining - potentially exposing the stomach to further irritation.|
|NSAIDS||Use acetominophens instead as NSAIDS may increase risk of ulcers.|
|Sugary foods / fructose||Even though sweet taste is soothing to the stomach, sweet taste also feeds bacteria.|
When attempting to eradicate or minimize presence of H pylori, the following may be useful. Consult your doctor to find out which therapies are best for you.
|Anti-inflammatories||There are a number of anti-inflammatory herbs that also have one of more of the below properties.|
|Antimicrobial||Yes, antimicrobial herbs can help, especially those that can survive the low pH of the stomach.|
|Astringents||Yes, helps reduce inflammation.|
|Easy to Digest||Yes - especially when atrophic gastritis present|
|Antioxidants||Yes - helps reduce inflammation. Research shows vitamin C supplements are helpful.|
|Probiotics||Probiotics can compete with H pylori. Bifidobacteria is especially useful against gastritis.|
|Demulcent||Demulcents include slimy foods like oatmeal and okra. These can soothes the stomach and rebuild the mucosa. The additional mucus may allow h pylori to survive more easily. Suggestion: Mix demulcents with antimicrobials such as coconut oil & turmeric when taking.|
An Ayurvedic diet consistent with the constitution of the client reduces stress on the digestive system and may improve the efficiency of herbs used, as well as efficacy of antibiotics. The client should follow all of the rules of maintain optimum digestive during the treatment.
Specific foods not mentioned with beneficial properties include:
|Pomegranate Juice||Astringent, anti-inflammatory, improves digestion|
|Coconut Oil||Antimicrobial, soothes inflammation|
|Blueberry, strawberry, etc.||High antioxidant|
|Other cruciferous vegetables||Like broccoli, these contain sulfurophane.|
|Cilantro||A cooling digestive useful for GI inflammation|
|Kale, Endive||A bitter vegetable which may cool inflammation|
|Aloe vera gel||Anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial|
|Honeydew, Cabbage Juice, Pear Juice||Cooling, soothing anti-inflammatories|
|1||Cinnamon||Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, digestive|
|1||Green Tea||Reduces adherence|
|1||Licorice Root||Soothes stomach|
To licorice root: Marshmallow Root 1 - Soothes stomach
To neem: Barberry 1 - Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial
Take 1 tsp in warm water, aloe vera, and wedge of lime 3x/day. If Aloe vera irritates take with pomegranate juice & lime only.
|1 Tbsp||Coconut Oil|
Cover broccoli with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Meanwhile, mix turmeric and cinnamon with several drops of water to form a paste. Sautee chopped garlic in coconut oil. Add spice paste and continue frying for 10 seconds. Deglaze pan with a cup of water from broccoli and pour into pot. Continue simmering until broccoli is soft. Serve with rice and a protein source.
 Pounder RE, Ng D (1995). "The prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection in different countries". Aliment. Pharmacol. Ther. 9 (Suppl 2): 33 - 9. PMID 8547526
 Brown LM (2000). "Helicobacter pylori: epidemiology and routes of transmission" (PDF). Epidemiol Rev 22 (2): 283 - 97. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.epirev.a018040. PMID 11218379.
 Goodman KJ, O'rourke K, Day RS, Wang C, Nurgalieva Z, Phillips CV, Aragaki C, Campos A, de la Rosa JM (December 2005). "Dynamics of Helicobacter pylori infection in a US-Mexico cohort during the first two years of life". Int J Epidemiol 34 (6): 1348 - 55. doi:10.1093/ije/dyi152. PMID 16076858.
 Scientists discover how helicobacter survives gastric acid. Abi Berger (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1117475)
 Kusters JG, van Vliet AH, Kuipers EJ (July 2006). "Pathogenesis of Helicobacter pylori Infection". Clin Microbiol Rev 19 (3): 449 - 90. doi:10.1128/CMR.00054-05. PMC 1539101. PMID 16847081.
 "Helicobacter pylori: an invading microorganism? A review". FEMS Immunol. Med. Microbiol. 36 (3): 117 - 26. doi:10.1016/S0928-8244(03)00020-8. PMID 12738380.
 Leptin and Ghrelin in Relation to Helicobacter pylori Status in Adult Males. Jatin Roper, Fritz Francois, Peter L. Shue, Michelle S. Mourad, Zhiheng Pei, Asalia Z. Olivares de Perez, Guillermo I. Perez-Perez, Chi-Hong Tseng, and Martin J. Blaser. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2435636)
 Prior Helicobacter pylori infection ameliorates Salmonella typhimurium-induced colitis: mucosal crosstalk between stomach and distal intestine. Higgins PD1, Johnson LA, Luther J, Zhang M, Sauder KL, Blanco LP, Kao JY. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21560200)
 Wang KY, Li SN, Liu CS, Perng DS, Su YC, Wu DC, Jan CM, Lai CH, Wang TN, Wang WM (September 2004). "Effects of ingesting Lactobacillus- and Bifidobacterium-containing yogurt in subjects with colonized Helicobacter pylori" (PDF). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80 (3): 737 - 41. PMID 15321816.
 Effects of high dose vitamin C treatment on Helicobacter pylori infection and total vitamin C concentration in gastric juice. Jarosz M1, Dzieniszewski J, Dabrowska-Ufniarz E, Wartanowicz M, Ziemlanski S, Reed PI. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9926292 )
 Nontraditional therapies to treat Helicobacter pylori infection. Morris O Makobongo, Jeremy J. Gilbreath, D. Scott Merrell (http://www.researchgate.net/publication/261221943_Nontraditional_therapies_to_treat_Helicobacter_pylori_infection )
 Mahady et al., 2005; Nanjundaiah et al., 2011; Haniadka et al., 2013
 Gutsy Germs Succumb to Baby Broccoli (http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/Gutsy_Germs_Succumb_to_Baby_Broccoli)
 Exploring alternative treatments for Helicobacter pylori infection. Guadalupe Ayala, Wendy Itzel Escobedo-Hinojosa, Carlos Felipe de la Cruz-Herrera, and Irma Romero (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3925854)
Disclaimer: 'H pylori infection' could be serious and should be checked by a medical doctor.
Symptoms Tell A StoryThe first step to healing is learning patterns from your symptoms. Symptoms are clues that reveal underlying imbalances, showing you where your body is weak. Specifically, they reveal the doshas & qualities that may have become aggravated. If you notice a quality or dosha appears next to many of your symptoms, it helps you establish a pattern that may be systemic.
One or more of the following doshas and qualities may be aggravated.If you have a systemic imbalance of one of these doshas or qualities, Ayurveda would generally recommend avoiding foods and lifestyle habits with that quality.
Key: V = Vata, P = Pitta, K = Kapha. A slash through a dosha means it an aggravated dosha. To learn more about the symbols above, click on them.
Correct ImbalanceFood and lifestyle habite with the following effects may reduce imbalances associated with 'H pylori infection'.
Stage of Disease: 3 - Attacking TissueIf you have symptoms in this category it means that your imbalances have weakened organs and tissues. At any moment, these imbalances could overwhelm weakened tissue and develop into degenerative disease.
Please review these herbs & products below to determine which ones might be helpful for H pylori infection.
|Aloe Vera Gel||Aloe Vera Juice|
|Cabbage (cooked)||Cantaloupe / Melons|
|Coconut Oil||Coconut Water|
|Fennel Seeds||Ginger (Fresh)|
|Red Leaf Lettuce||Rose Petals|
|Turmeric||Turmeric Root (Fresh)|
|Sores inside mouth||Indigestion / Upset stomach|
|Quickly full / early satiety||Irregular/small appetite|
|Discomfort in abdomen||Frequent Nausea|
|Sharp abdominal pain||Burping|
|Strong abdominal pulse||Pain left upper abdomen|
|Abdominal pain continuous||Gastritis|
|Pain above belly button||Burning abdominal pain|
|Stomach Ulcer||Duodenal Ulcer|
About the AuthorJohn Immel is the founder of Joyful Belly, helping people confidently choose food that restores their healthy glow through wisdom, personal growth and balance. John's approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, as if it were second nature. His articles, books, and Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week eCourse provides tools for gracefully healing your mind and body. John also directs Joyful Belly's Master of Ayurvedic Digestion & Nutrition 500 hour certification program, where practitioners learn advanced clinical skills for digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
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