Diet and nutrition in ulcer disease

Med Clin North Am. 1991 Jul;75(4):967-79. doi: 10.1016/s0025-7125(16)30424-2.


In this era of H2-inhibitors, the available evidence does not support the need to place peptic ulcer disease patients on restrictive diets. The major goal of diet is to avoid extreme elevations of gastric acid secretion and the direct irritation of gastric mucosa. In view of this, only slight modifications in the patient's usual diet are recommended. Table 1 depicts a sample menu for chronic peptic ulcer disease. Frequent milk ingestion as previously prescribed is not encouraged. This is owing to the transient buffering effect and significant gastric acid secretion effect of milk. The fat content of milk has no influence on these effects. Spices, in particular black pepper, red pepper, and chili powder, may produce dyspepsia. One study shows red chili powder to have no detrimental effect on duodenal ulcer healing. It has also been proposed that daily pepper ingestion may have a beneficial adaptive cytoprotective response. While still controversial and under evaluation, peptic ulcer patients should avoid any spice that causes discomfort, especially during exacerbation of peptic disease. Currently, studies indicate that it is prudent to avoid alcohol. This is especially true for the concentrated forms, such as 40% (80 proof) alcohol. Coffee should be avoided on the basis of its strong acid secretagogue property. Coffee can induce dyspepsia. Whether noncoffee caffeine-containing beverages (tea, soft drinks) induce peptic ulcer is unknown, but they are acid secretion stimulators. Decaffeinated coffee has an acid stimulating effect as well. It is reasonable to have peptic ulcer patients restrict decaffeinated coffee and all caffeine-containing beverages. There appears to be no evidence to restrict dietary fiber. Some fiber-containing foods may possess factors that are protective against ulcer disease. According to the Mayo Clinic Diet Manual, previously recommended small frequent feedings have not been shown to be more effective than three meals per day in the treatment of chronic peptic ulcer disease. This reference cites authorities advising against extra feedings because of increased acid secretion and unnecessary complication of eating patterns. However, some patients claim to be relieved of symptoms with more frequent feedings, especially during acute phases. Citric acid juices may induce reflux and cause discomfort in selective patients. Stomach distention with large quantities of food should be discouraged. Although there is now little role for dietary therapy, one should note that bland and ulcer diets probably are not detrimental to most persons if they are used for a short time and may have some psychological benefit.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Animals
  • Caffeine / adverse effects
  • Condiments / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Milk
  • Peptic Ulcer / diet therapy*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Caffeine