Treating Helicobacter Pylori Infection with Diet, and Supplements

 Helicobacter Pylori, or H. pylori for short, is a gram-negative bacteria that can populate the human oral cavity and stomach. In developing countries, H. pylori affects 70–80% of the population, whereas in developed countries affects approximately 13% to 50% of the population [1].

In most people, H. pylori infection is asymptomatic and takes the form of mild inflammation of the stomach lining. Ulcers of H. pylori infection with increased inflammation and increased acid secretion are observed in 15–20% of infected people. This may happen if left untreated and can lead to ulcers also in the esophagus lining, causing pain when swallowing, and ulcers in the duodenum causing pain after eating food. Symptoms may include stomach ache or a burning sensation, especially when you are hungry, nausea, bloating, weight loss, and frequent burping.

Some people may mistake their symptoms for acid reflux or heartburn and take antacids and acid blockers, leading to the actual condition going untreated.  

Helicobacter Pylori can also lead to anemia. Gastric cancer from H. pylori infection is found in approximately 1% of infected people. [2].

H pylori infection is diagnosed using the 13C-urea breath test or through urine or blood tests or detection in a stool specimen.

Conventional therapy of Helicobacter pylori infection is based on long-term antibiotic treatment with at least two antibiotics often combined with a double dose of an antisecretory (proton-pump inhibitor) medication. This therapy is effective in 82% – 92% of patients. 

The problem with this therapy is the increasing resistance of H. pylori to the most commonly used antibiotics. Moreover, this therapy is often associated with side effects, mainly diarrhea, nausea, and taste disturbances, leading to treatment discontinuation. These side effects may be due to a change of the gut microbiome and their impact on the body.

The foods we eat can potentially contain many substances with potent antibacterial activity against H. pylori. Therefore, dietary intervention can lead to a decrease in H. pylori colonization and decrease the predominance of inflammation of the stomach lining, thus lowering the risk of gastric cancer.

Here are ten ways to prevent and manage the condition by changing your diet and taking supplements: 

Consume whole grains and vegetables 

Studies show that consuming high amounts of whole grains and vegetables reduces the risk of getting H. Pylori. Study participants who had the highest amounts of high in whole-grains, roots and tubers, vegetables, mushrooms, beans, nuts, and seeds in their diets had the lowest chance for H pylori infection. [3]

Reduce processed and salt-rich foods

The same study found that a diet rich in refined grains, pickled vegetables, bacon, salted fish, salted and preserved eggs, processed and cooked meat, wine, and tea was found to have the highest chance of getting an H. Pylori infection. [3]

Increase Isothiocyanate in your diet

Cauliflower, swede, cabbage, horseradish, radish, mustard, and onions contain substances called isothiocyanates. These substances have anti-cancer and bactericidal activity against H. pylori [5].

Sulforaphane, found in broccoli and their sprouts, is one of the isothiocyanates inhibiting the growth of H. pylori. [6]. In a study by Yanaka et al., patients with confirmed H. pylori infection who had a broccoli sprout intake of 70 g/day had a significant decrease in H. Pylori colonization. [7]

Consume Manuka or Oak honey

The antibacterial activity of honey is attributable to its high acidity and hydrogen peroxide content. The most potent antibacterial activity against H. pylori. was found from the oak tree and manuka honey. Honey intake at least once a week was associated with a significantly lower prevalence of H. pylori infection [8].

Take probiotics 

Certain probiotic strains have antibacterial activity resulting from their ability to secrete antibacterial substances such as lactic acid, disturbing bacterial adherence mechanisms [9].

Furthermore, a research team from the Department of Fermentation and Biosynthesis in Poland found that probiotics significantly improved eradication rates. [10] 

I recommend taking probiotic supplements with at least ten different bacterial strains and 100 billion bacteria to have a positive effect against H. Pylori.

Fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut are also good sources of probiotics. 

Take Berberine supplements

Berberine is a herbal supplement that helps the stomach produce less acid. Many studies have proven that berberine has anti-Helicobacter pylori effects and acts as an H.pylori inhibitor. 

A recent study indicated that adding berberine to the standard antibiotic triple therapy effectively eradicated H. pylori, healing peptic ulcers and improving clinical symptoms. [11] 

I recommend taking a berberine supplement of 150 mg daily until the infection is eradicated.

Take vitamin C supplements.

Vitamin C has been shown to inhibit H pylori urease activity. What does this mean? Well, urease is an enzyme central to H. pylori colonization of the stomach lining. [12]. A study into the failure of antibiotic treatment of H. Pylori showed that patients in whom the infection did not clear had lower levels of vitamin C than patients whose infection was cleared [13]. Thus for ant treatment to be effective, the person must have sufficient levels of vitamin C in the blood and gastric juices. Treatment with vitamin C has shown a healthy increase in vitamin C in gastric juice. [14-20]

I recommend taking 1000 mg liposomal vitamin C three times a week

Consume vitamin E rich foods

Vitamin E is the most effective fat-soluble antioxidant. It plays a part in stomach lining defense by protecting against damage caused by excessive free radicals. [21]. 

Vitamin E is the primary oxidant scavenger in the stomach lining, while vitamin C is responsible for scavenging free radicals in the stomach liquid.

Vitamin E can be found in avocado, almonds, red bell peppers, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pumpkin, and green leafy vegetables.

 I recommend consuming these foods regularly while suffering from an H. Pylori infection.

Prevent deficiencies caused by H. Pylori

It is important to note that many micronutrients depend on a healthy functioning stomach for absorption. 

Since H. pylori may alter the stomach physiology, it will also affect the balance of vitamins and minerals and lead to certain deficiencies. These deficiencies will affect the person’s immune system, heart, brain health and function, and cholesterol and glucose metabolism.

Therefore, it is essential to take supplements while infected with H. Pylori infection. Studies show a connection between H. pylori infection and deficiencies of vitamins A and B12. Treatment with these nutrients has shown a healthy increase in vitamin A and B12 in the blood, which helps the body fight off the infection. [22-30]

Furthermore, H. pylori infection is significantly associated with decreased bone mineral density. [31]

Therefore I recommend taking 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin twice a week, 25000 IU of vitamin A twice a week, getting sufficient skin exposure to the sun, or taking 2000 IU of vitamin D daily until the infection is eradicated.

Foods rich in nutrients that support bone density include sauerkraut, soybean products including tofu and natto, and whole sesame seed paste such as tahini, all of which I also recommend consuming regularly.

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