Did you know:

– 50% of world’s population may have H. pylori bacterium?

– 90% of people with stomach ulcers are infected with H. pylori?

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What is Helicobacter pylori (stomach bacteria)?

Stomach bacteria or H. pylori is bacterium that can cause chronic inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach in humans called gastritis.

It is a fragile bacteria that has found an ideal home in the protective mucous layer of the stomach.

These stomach bacteria have long threads protruding from them that attach to the underlying stomach cells. The mucous layer that protects the stomach cells from acid also protects H. pylori so these bacteria do not actually invade the stomach cells.

H. pylori infection

The infection is likely one of the most common worldwide.

It occurs frequently in young people in the developing countries of the world, since the infection tends to be common where sanitation is poor or living quarters are cramped.

The rate of infection increases with age, so it occurs more often in older people.

H. pylori infection probably occurs when an individual swallows the bacteria in food, fluid or perhaps from contaminated utensils (via either the fecal-oral or oral-oral route). In many cases it does not produce symptoms.

In other words, the infection can occur without the person knowing it.

The infection, however, is very real and it does cause the body to react.

The symptoms caused by these types of stomach bacteria

During mild gastritis episodes, a person might experience:

– abdominal discomfort – minor belching – nausea – vomiting – bloating

 Other symptoms may include: – diarrhea – heartburn – bad breath. Individuals who have a more serious infection exhibit symptoms of stomach and duodenal ulcers or severe gastritis: – burning or pain in the upper abdomen, usually occurring about an hour or so after meals or even during the night – nausea and vomiting sometimes with blood – fatigue – full feeling after a small amount of food – decreased appetite that is more constant.

When any of my clients express symptoms of abdominal discomfort and/or heartburn, I usually suggest to check with their GP and run a simple H. pylori diagnostic test. It could be a breath, blood or stool test or a diagnostic endoscopy (a visual exam of the stomach through a thin, lighted, flexible tube). It is important to know the cause of the symptoms, instead of taking antacid medication and then developing a more serious problem. If untreated, H. pylori can ruin your health by not only causing gastritis, but also gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcers, cancer, gastric MALT lymphoma, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, iron deficiency anemia and idiopathic thrombotic purpura.

 What is the treatment for H. pylori?

types of stomach bacteria_2Chronic infection with H. pylori weakens the natural defenses of the lining of the stomach to the ulcerating action of acid. So it is important to treat this infection.

1. Conventional medicine usually uses combination treatment with:

–  Antibiotics –  antacids, that neutralize stomach acid –  H2-blockers that decrease the secretion of acid in the stomach. Unfortunately, these combinations of medications can be expected to cure 70% to 90% of infections. Antibiotic resistance is one of the reasons why antibiotics should be used carefully plus taking antibiotics disturbs gut flora by killing not only bad bacteria but good bacteria too. That can lead to many digestive problems. By taking antacids and/or H2-blockers, stomach acid is reduced which plays an important role in protecting the body against pathogens ingested with food or water. As a consequence, these bacteria can pass into the intestinal tract, where they can induce gastroenteritis. Stomach hydrochloric acid is important in digesting food, activation digestive enzymes, absorption of minerals like magnesium, sodium and iron.

2. Dietary recommendations

Diet not only helps prevent acquisition of the bacteria but also protects from disease consequences in those who are infected.

 – Promising research [2] on vitamin C in both mice and humans has shown that in amounts of 5g a day, it can rid the body of H. pylori in up to 30% of individuals. – Increase Vit C rich foods like fresh, raw fruit and vegetables – sweet peppers, watercress, kiwi fruit, strawberries, and Camu Camu. – The benefits of the probiotic family of lactobacilli have also been proven through research [3]. Various strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus salivarius inhibit the growth of helicobacter in mice, probably through the production of lactic acid, although they also interfere with H. pylori’s ability to stick to cells. – Increase the mucous layer in the stomach by proper hydration and Vit A rich foods – carrots, apricots, parsley, watercress, spinach, cantaloupes, mangoes, legumes, sweet potatoes and broccolZinc-carnosine has protective effects on gastric mucosa. Zinc-carnosine appears to inhibit the growth of H. pylori because of the interference of zinc with urease activity. The urease activity is essential for the initial gastric colonization of H. pylori [4]

3. Identify and reduce or avoid stress

Avoid: – sugar which can be used by the bacteria – highly acidic irritants to the stomach like chocolate, coffee, dairy products, red and processed meat, smoked and pickled foods, refined grains, spirits – overeating

To summarise, wash hands with uncontaminated water to avoid contracting the bacterium and if you are experiencing any gastrointestinal discomfort, ask your doctor to test you for H. pylori infection.

Please comment and share your thoughts with us – we would love to hear them!

Connect with Expert Vilma Brunhuber.

References:

– [1] Arch Iran Med. 2011 May;14(3):192-9. doi: 011143/AIM.0010.

– [2] Natural Medicine Journal, July 2012 vol-4 issue 7

– [3] World J Gastrointest Pathophysiol. 2014 Nov 15; 5(4): 384–391

– [4] Natural Medicine Journal, November 2013 vol 5 issue 11

– Tayomago A et al Epidemiological Study on Food Intake and Helicobacter pylori infection Kurumo Med J 2000 47: 1 25-30.

– Jarosz M, et al Effects of high dose vitamin C treatment on Helicobacter pylori infection and total vitamin C concentration in Gastric

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