Gastritis refers to a condition characterised by the inflammation of the lining of the stomach and one that affects approximately 20%-26% of the Australian population. The question of how to prevent gastritis or reduce its symptoms, therefore, is one that many gastroenterologists are posed with.
Given that it can be exacerbated through the long-term use of painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, knowing what to avoid and what dietary and lifestyle changes are necessary for a healthier, inflammation-free digestive system is important.
This post looks at some of the primary strategies you can follow to prevent gastritis or manage its symptoms. If you’re being treated for a concomitant condition, consult a doctor about any lifestyle changes you plan on making.
One of the main ways in which you can prevent gastritis is by being mindful about the medication you take and having a good understanding of how it affects your body.
Given that long-term NSAID use can cause gastritis, speak to your doctor if you’ve been using these painkillers on a frequent basis and if any of the medication you’ve been prescribed is irritating your digestive system.
If it’s important that you take any medication for a concomitant condition that causes inflammation, doctors may prescribe enteric pills. These are tablets that come with a coating that allows them to pass from the stomach to the small intestine without dissolving.
Carefully monitoring your diet is another lifestyle change/habit that can help you prevent gastritis.
If you notice that certain food items cause you discomfort, it’s important to take note of them and reduce their intake or eliminate them from your diet. Spicy food is a known trigger of gastritis and can lead to inflammation if you don’t manage your intake of spice/chilli.
Regulating alcohol and tobacco consumption
Another way to prevent gastritis is through healthier lifestyle habits, such as cutting down on excessive smoking and drinking.
Smoking can weaken the natural defences present in the intestine and decrease blood flow to this region, leading to certain immune system changes that result in the inflammation of the stomach lining. The deleterious effects of smoking on the digestive system can be exacerbated if you have a family history of digestive issues.
Alcohol can irritate and/or erode certain parts of the stomach lining, making it more susceptible to the damaging effects of excess stomach acid, which is produced when the body is digesting food. There is strong evidence to show that reduced alcohol consumption can prevent gastritis, especially if you consider the results of one study that showed that mucosal inflammation was present in 100% of test subjects with a history of chronic alcohol drinking.
Reducing acid buildup
Gastritis can also be prevented by reducing acid buildup by eating smaller and more frequent meals.
By eating smaller quantities of food for each meal, you avoid overwhelming your digestive system with large quantities of food, making digestion smoother.
At the same time, it’s important that you don’t rush through meals and maintain an upright position while you eat. Eating fast may lead you to swallow larger pieces of food and air, which later make you burp, sending air out along with acid.
Given that stress can lead to an overproduction of gastric juices and stomach acid, which irritate the lining of the stomach, stress management is an important part of preventing gastritis symptoms.
Practice stress-relief strategies and techniques that help you manage your stress effectively. Exercise happens to be one of the most highly recommended ways of relieving stress. In fact, numerous studies have shown that increased physical activity, especially yoga, is known to be an effective way of relieving some of the symptoms and discomfort associated with certain gastroenterological conditions.
Prevent gastritis through effective lifestyle changes under the guidance of a medical professional
Fortunately, preventing gastritis does not involve drastic changes to your lifestyle and habits. By following the recommendations set out above, you may be able to minimise the likelihood of inflammation in the stomach lining and prevent the pain and discomfort associated with gastritis.