Ulcer Diet Foods

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Berry salad

Ulcers, which are open sores or raw areas that occur in your gastrointestinal tract, can happen as a result of bacterial damage, smoking, and chronic use of certain medications. Some foods can aggravate ulcers making them more painful, but choosing foods from the "good" ulcer diet list can help ease symptoms.

Fiber-Rich Foods

Mayo Clinic suggests eating plenty of fruits and veggies, especially those rich in vitamins C and A, as well as whole grains when suffering from ulcers. One 2014 review published in Brazilian Archives of Digestive Surgery reports fiber-rich foods help ease intestinal discomfort caused by ulcers and reduce ulcer treatment times. Authors of the review suggest getting 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily. The University of Maryland Medical Center and Canadian Society of Intestinal Research also suggest choosing lots of fiber-rich foods.

Vegetables

Pick fiber-rich veggies as part of an ulcer diet. Examples include:

  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Squash
  • Bell peppers
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Other legumes
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Sprouts

Fruits

Eat plenty of fiber-rich fruits (except citrus fruit, which may cause discomfort in some people with ulcers), such as:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Cranberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Bananas
  • Melons

Whole Grains

Choose whole grains (over refined grains) like:

  • Brown rice
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Other whole grains

Healthy Protein Foods

The 2014 review published in Brazilian Archives of Digestive Surgery says protein is a must for ulcer healing and recovery. Wound Care Advisor notes protein foods promote healing of wounds, such as ulcers. Choose healthy protein foods (other than red meat) to complete your ulcer diet menu; examples include:

  • Eggs
  • Egg whites
  • Fish
  • Lean meats
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Seafood
  • Pork
  • Duck
  • Quail
  • Tofu
  • Legumes

Healthy Fats

The University of Maryland Medical Center says choosing healthy fats over trans fats may help reduce ulcer symptoms. Examples of healthy fats include:

  • Vegetable oils
  • Olives
  • Avocados
  • Fish oil
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Nut and seed butters

Probiotic-Rich Foods

The study in Brazilian Archives of Digestive Surgery found probiotics-rich foods help reduce ulcer treatment time and side effects associated with ulcer-treatment medications (antibiotics). When suffering from ulcers, Mayo Clinic suggests the following probiotics-rich foods for relief:

  • Aged cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Kefir

Condiments and Beverages

Pick from the following condiment and beverage list when you have ulcers. These foods are on the list because they generally don't aggravate ulcers like spicy and citrus foods.

  • Honey
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Vegetable oils
  • Filtered water
  • Flavored water (with non-citrus fruit)
  • Herbal tea
  • Plant-based milks

Herbs, Supplements, and Spices

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends the following herbs and supplements to help ease symptoms of ulcers. Always check with your doctor before trying these.

  • Cranberry extract -- May inhibit ulcer-causing H. pylori growth in the stomach
  • DGL-licorice extract -- May help protect the stomach from Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Mastic extract -- May inhibit H. pylori growth
  • Vitamin C supplements -- Aids in ulcer healing
  • Probiotics supplements -- Aids in ulcer recovery and helps counteract effects of ulcer medications (antibiotics)

Herbs

These herbs and spices tend to cause fewer symptoms than spicier seasonings. Individualized tolerances to spices may vary.

  • Basil
  • Turmeric
  • Coriander
  • Mint
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Cardamom
  • Marjoram
  • Thyme

Foods to Avoid

MedlinePlus, the University of Maryland Medical Center, and the American Academy of Family Physicians suggest you avoid the following foods when you have ulcers because these may cause discomfort in your intestinal tract. Many of the foods on the list may cause your stomach to produce more acid, which can cause digestive tract aggravation. Keep in mind what causes discomfort in some people may not in others suffering from ulcers.

  • Milk
  • Coffee (regular and decaf)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated soda
  • Other carbonated beverages
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy foods
  • Refined foods (sugars, white pasta, white bread, and white rice)
  • Red meat
  • Commercially baked goods
  • Croissants
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Crackers
  • Onion rings
  • French fries
  • Other fried foods
  • Potato chips
  • Doughnuts
  • Margarine
  • Chilies
  • Hot peppers
  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Citrus fruits
  • Citrus juices
  • Ketchup
  • Tomato sauce
  • Horseradish sauce
  • Spicy salsa
  • Spicy barbecue sauce
  • Gravies
  • Cream soups
  • Meat extract
  • Mustard seed

Which Foods to Choose?

The bottom line is to choose foods rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein, and probiotics when you have ulcers. Avoid spicy, fried, fatty, and highly acidic foods, which can make symptoms worse. However, individualized food triggers for ulcer pain vary. So, if something on the "good" foods list bothers you, try eliminating it until your ulcers heal.

Ulcer Diet Foods