Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, peptic ulcers, excess gas, bloating — there can be a number of reasons for these indigestion problems, but there’s one culprit that’s often connected to all of them: a bacteria named Helicobacter pylori. More than 20% of adult Americans are thought to have an H. pylori infection. These spiral-shaped bacteria embed themselves in the mucous lining of the stomach and can wreak all kinds of havoc on the digestive system. H. pylori damage the stomach’s protective lining and interfere with stomach acid production. These two disruptions can cause peptic ulcers (H. pylori are now known to be the primary cause of ulcers), gas, bloating, heart burn, make digestion more difficult, and may eventually lead to gastric cancer.
H. pylori is contagious, and many people may be infected without even knowing it. If you have any ongoing symptoms of the above mentioned digestions problems, you should probably consult with a doctor (although they’ll likely give you antibiotics that kill the good bacteria along with the bad), but there are also actions you can take that are good for your overall health and may prevent H. pylori from being able to colonize your stomach!
One of H. pylori’s primary foods is hydrogen gas. Intestinal gases like hydrogen are produced by bacteria in the large intestine. These bacteria feed on food that’s still not completely digested when it reaches the large intestine. Since an ample amount of stomach acid is essential for complete digestion, and H. pylori disrupt stomach acid production, an H. pylori infection can result in a vicious cycle of indigested food, leading to more hydrogen production, leading to more H. pylori (since the have more hydrogen for food). The excess use of antacids can also interfere with the stomach acid balance and exacerbate digestive problems.
There are several naturals ways, however, to improve digestion in order stop feeding the bacteria that produce the hydrogen that feeds H. pylori. One of the least known is reduced fructose consumption! Thanks to sodas, juices, agave syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and white sugar, fructose consumption has skyrocket; yet, studies have found that humans can digest only about 25 grams of fructose in one sitting (one cup of apple juice contains about 24 grams of fructose). Also, for fructose to be absorbed in the small intestines, an equal amount of glucose must be present. The result is that a lot of fructose is sent undigested to the large intestine, where it feeds the bacteria that produce hydrogen. Breath tests after high fructose meals almost always measure elevated hydrogen levels. In addition to cutting back on refined sugars and fructose, another way to improve digestion is by taking the time to adequately chew every bite of food. Thoroughly chewed food is more easily broken down by stomach acid and subsequently absorbed in the small intestine (resulting in less hydrogen, CO2, and methane gas production).
H. pylori is a nasty little bug, but we don’t have to provide the conditions where it can thrive. Compared to the contents of refined foods, fruits and vegetables and other whole foods are low in fructose and (with the right preparation) easily digested. If you’re experiencing indigestion problem, don’t assume it’s genetics or something you just have to live with, your body may be sending you a signal that you need to change something in your diet. Also, keep in mind, change doesn’t always happen over night, it will take consistently eating whole foods (and chewing them thoroughly) to see results.
References: H. pylori and Cancer, International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Hydrogen as Energy Source for H. pylori, Short-Chain Carbohydrates and Short-Chain Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Whole Health Source, University of Iowa
Originally posted 2013-05-07 02:57:27.