You expect me to say it’s because we eat too much pepper in Nigeria, don’t you? The reason why it’s tough to treat ulcers in Nigeria… it’s interesting. I personally had to deal with this illness for over a decade and following my experience, I have reached a few conclusions. First of all, most illnesses can’t be treated without the intelligence and vigilance of the patient. That means every patient of every illness has to make his or her independent observations in addition to what their doctor can tell them. Having overcome this disease, I often feel the urge to educate those who have been diagnosed lately.
Ulcers are ‘invisible’ wounds. They can’t be viewed except through an uncomfortable and quite costly procedure called an endoscopy. So a person who is experiencing ulcer pains can only try to describe how they feel in their tummy. And here comes the worst part, the pain is triggered by many foods just as it is triggered by hunger. The year I got diagnosed with duodenal ulcer I was thoroughly confused; afraid to stay hungry and afraid to eat, since I didn’t know what the triggers were. And did I mention that a troubled mind is also a trigger?
What I have learned over the years is that you need to take note of the foods that affect you because some foods affect some people and not some others. Still, there is a general list of ‘bad for ulcer foods’. I have found that most doctors can’t give you this list because most of the information and literature out there focuses on foods that are native to western diets. Unless your doctor has had ulcers himself, he is unlikely to know the Nigerian foods that hurt or help this confusing illness. I say ‘confusing’ because one bad meal choice can cause discomfort for up to 24 hours. You’re not going to know what item in the plate caused the discomfort so you could even have another helping to soothe the pain/hunger.
Below, I have compiled a list of foods, which may help anyone dealing with ulcer of any kind. In addition to listening to your doctor, you should investigate to know if these foods affect you negatively,. Some of them like Tomato stew and Egusi affect some patients so subtly that it’s hard to tell they are the culprits. Anyway, no American medical book or website is going to warn you or your doctor about Nigeria’s tomato stew or Egusi soup. I have also listed some ‘good foods’, which used to give me good relief when I had it.
Can I also bring up the common misconception about alcohol and ulcer? Every doctor will tell you to stop drinking alcoholic beverages, and they are right. But what type of alcoholic beverage are they referring to? They are all bad for ulcers except for three. There are three which actually soothe ulcers and are natural substitutes for antacids. Whisky, Brandy and Rum are different from all other types of alcoholic drinks because these three are fermented and distilled. All others (wines, vodkas, beers, champagne etc.) are either fermented or distilled… and are very dangerous to ulcer patients.
And as for antacids (Gestid, Gelusil etc.), even though every doctor will include them in your prescription, they tend to slow down the digestive system over time. They are great for instant relief but they are too unnatural as remedies to be used for a long time.
So there you have it. The goal of any ulcer sufferer is to not aggravate the wounds for a long time so that they have a chance to heal. It’s tough because of the many triggers; wrong foods, anger, stress… I remember struggling with ignorance about what foods and drinks used to trouble me. And I still see a lot of newly diagnosed patients struggling with a lack of information.
I hope this article makes you smarter about this very common but confusing illness. Oh and for people who think that it’s caused by not eating, you’re a little bit wrong; that’s just one of the causes. Ulcers are caused by bacteria called H-Pylori, as well as by hereditary factors. Below is the list of the good foods and the bad foods I have taken note of. Hope it helps.
The Bad: Peppers, Corn, Beans, Egusi, Tomato Stew, Eggs, Soft Drinks, Nuts, Potatoes, Fried Yam, Citrus fruits, Coconut.
The Healers: Paw paw, Watermelon (without the seeds), Cabbage, Moringa (juice only), Okro,