Along with a host of other lifestyle modifications, your diet can help a lot to soothe gastritis symptoms and make the condition heal more quickly. Certain dietary choices might improve your healing, but some foods might also make things worse. How about milk or dairy products — are they good or bad for gastritis?
Milk was thought helpful!
When you have gastritis (stomach lining inflammation), maintaining the balance of your stomach acid is a key factor to recover quickly. Uncontrolled, high levels of stomach acid will make the inflammation get worse.
Therefore, acid-suppressing medications are often the first to be prescribed when the problem requires medical intervention. The good news, gastritis is usually mild and a few lifestyle measures are often enough to make it ease up.
How about milk? Several decades ago, people believed that milk could help relieve gastritis pain. Although it’s slightly acidic, it’s far less so than the natural acid produced in the stomach. Also, it has an effect to buffer stomach acid. That’s why it was thought helpful to neutralize and rebalance stomach acid levels.
But, as far back as the end-seventies, researchers found that milk actually has bad effect for stomach acid control.
Milk does help coats the stomach lining, buffering the acid released by the stomach. But this beneficial is not long enough to effectively control the acid. It’s temporary, even the production of acid may increase higher afterwards.
In other words, drinking milk can help make you feel a bit better for a while. But it usually lasts for only a few minutes and then you may have a spike in stomach acid levels, making your gastritis symptoms worse.
It seems that milk and dairy products are actually not the answer for settling an upset stomach, including gastritis. So it’s worth a try to eliminating them for a while at least until the inflammation of your stomach lining heals completely.
Though gastritis is usually mild, it could be chronic and put you at high risk of complications such as stomach ulcers, chronic stomach bleeding, and even cancer (rare). So it’s important to make sure the inflammation relieves completely.
And if you choose to go dairy-free for gastritis, here are a few ‘safe’ milk alternatives to choose from:
This healthy, plant-derived milk could be one of your best milk alternatives. It’s not only good in taste, particularly with hot cereal … hmm yummy, but also low in lactose and other dairy’s bad things that potentially cause upset stomach. It may help relieve your stomach lining inflammation too, because it has a few anti-inflammatory properties.
But as with most nut-delivered milks, almond milk could be potential to cause allergic reactions – mostly in children. But for most people, it’s a good way for flavoring.
It may be the best bet if you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative. It’s quite comparable in vitamin D, calcium, and protein quality found in cow’s milk. Bonus, it is low in lactose and delicious (especially if you’re a fan of soy). To get the most out of the benefits, choose fortified soy milk!
If the taste matters, hemp milk may be your best milk alternative. It’s fattier than other milk alternatives mentioned before – it tends to seem thicker! But since it is quite high in fats, it might drive more extra pounds of weight. Just make sure to consume it in moderation.
Free-allergen, coconut milk
Although coconut milk is a bit too watery in taste, it is a lower-allergen alternative choice. It’s easily to digest, even for people with lactose intolerance. But its protein content is not as high as found in animal-derived milks. So don’t forget to include other high-quality protein foods if you choose coconut oil to substitute milk and dairy products!
It’s loaded with living friendly organisms, probiotics, to help promote a healthy digestive system. Some studies show that probiotics may help relieve diarrhea and make irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) ease up. Also, its vitamin D content is quite high. Even it may help your digestive make the digestion of your dietary lactose become easier.
What else to avoid with gastritis?
A few changes in diet can play a key role towards healing gastritis and preventing the condition from coming back. What to avoid in diet may vary between individuals. But the common culprits are foods that irritate stomach lining and cause a spike in stomach acid levels (e.g. alcohol, high-caffeinated drinks, and fatty, acidic, spicy foods).
The way of how you take meals may also have an effect. It’s recommended to get smaller, more-frequent meals to help minimize the effects of stomach acid. Eating too much at once is bad for controlling your stomach acid.
Furthermore, it’s not only about controlling stomach acid. Improving the overall health of your digestive system matters, too! So it’s worth a try to continue with a healthy-balanced diet, even though when the inflammation has healed.
Also, having strong body immune system is so helpful to heal the inflammation more quickly and fight against H. Pylori infection (a bacterial infection that can increase the risk of gastritis and stomach ulcers). And your diet is a good way to boost your immune system.
Lactose intolerance and gastritis
Lactose, a kind of sugar found in milk and dairy products, is another thing to worry. It’s hard to digest, making gas and abdominal bloating more likely. The challenge mounts if you have lactose intolerance, a condition in which the digestive system cannot fully digest lactose.
There is no cure for lactose intolerance. So the best way to cope with is to avoid or cut down on your dietary lactose. Here are a few strategies:
- You may not need to completely skip lactose, but you have to be more careful with it. For instance, if you want to add milk or dairy products in your regular meals, add them only in small servings.
- Avoid consuming large amounts of lactose at once! A significant increase in lactose makes the flare up more likely.
- If you do love ice-cream or other dairy products, choose ones with lactose-reduced /lactose-free label!
Also, diet low in milk and dairy products doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your dietary calcium and vitamin D. Besides milk substitutes mentioned earlier, get more vitamin D from eggs, salmon, and even spending time outdoor (sunlight exposure) will help a lot.
High-calcium food alternatives include spinach, broccoli, calcium-fortified breads, pinto beans, and oranges. If necessary, ask your doctor whether it’s OK to take supplements! Even many adults without lactose intolerance also have various deficiencies of vitamin D and calcium.