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Nutrition versus the fire within; vitamins and minerals can help in prevention and treatment of peptic ulcers.

Nutrition Versus The Fire Within

Vitamins and minerals can help in prevention and treatment of peptic ulcers

Nutritional deficiencies can be responsible for ulcer development. Evidence continues to accumulate proving that diets deficient in the vitamins A, B and C, and in protein often cause gastric erosions.

Epidemiologic studies have contrasted eating habits of populations in the same country and arrived at similar conclusions. In northern India, for example, where gastric ulcers seldom ever occur, the diet is superior to that of southern India, where ulcer rates are high.

Abram Hoffer, M.D., writes in Orthomolecular Medicine for Physicians (Keats Publishing) that protein imbalances can be responsible for gastric disease:

"For perhaps 99 percent or more of man's existence on earth, his food contained the natural admixture of protein plus other constituents. When food reached the stomach, the acid was quickly bound by the protein which it helped digest. Therefore, there was no empty amount of acid lying around in the stomach; the mucosa remained intact.

"The protein buffered the acid against the stomach wall. In today's nutrition very often food is consumed that contains less protein, or it may contain no protein at all. When one drinks a bottle of soda pop ... there will be the same increased excretion of acid, but there will be no protein present and the soda pop will remain free in the stomach."

He continues to decry the proliferation of processed food in the diet: "Most nutritionists have ignored the impact of junk food on health, but it is clear that ... peptic ulcer has become prevalent in people who eat refined foods.

"Eating fresh or living food ... was the pattern to which our gastrointestinal tract adapted. The mechanics of such a system are different from one in which large quantities of food are consumed in a few minutes.

"Living food has a low bacteria count -- there has been little time for bacteria to grow. The number of bacteria is further reduced by the hydrocholoric acid in the stomach. Acid-tolerant bacteria, such as acidophilus, are able to survive passage through the stomach. Once the food has passed into the small intestine, its pH becomes alkaline.

"A high fiber diet stimulates peristalsis, moving the food through within a day or two."

In his scholarly book, Nutritional Influences on Illness, Melvyn R. Werbach, M.D. lists bioflavonoids as essential in preventing and treating ulcers. Their ability to regulate the release of histamines is considered especially important.

Dr. Werbach also notes that patients suffering from peptic ulcers are also deficient in pyridoxine (Vitamin B6).

The necessity for vitamin A in the diet to prevent stress ulcers has been noted by another researcher, M.S. Chernow, M.D. Writing in the Journal of Trauma (12:831, 1972) Dr. Chernow observed that stress ulcers that developed after serious burns were ameliorated by high dosage of the vitamin. Since that report, other researchers have concurred and also approved of beta-carotene as a suitable alternative because it can be taken in much larger dosages.

Vitamin C in its various forms (calcium ascorbate, ascorbic acid, potassium ascorbate) has been found useful in treating bleeding ulcers. It has also been proposed that the ascorbates could be useful in ulcer prevention because the vitamin stimulates would healing.

The supposition that vitamin E may protect against stress ulcerations has also been confirmed in experiments conducted by J.A. Kangas.

An Australian research team, beginning its inquiries more than a decade ago, has established the value of using zinc to treat and prevent ulcers.

Donald J. Frommer, M.D., of the department of gastroenterology at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, first reported that zinc, the dietary mineral, can speed healing of gastric ulcers even in patients who show no signs of a zinc deficiency.

Studies in other parts of the world correlate the positive results indicating that zinc not only reduces pain but modifies histamine release.
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Sep 22, 1989
Previous Article:Treatment of peptic ulcers by diet.
Next Article:Can stress-induced ulcers be fatal?

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