H. pylori (Heliobacter pylori) is a type of bacteria that can infect your stomach and damage stomach tissue. H. pylori infections can cause soreness and inflammation in the stomach and upper small intestine (duodenum) and, in some cases, can cause painful peptic ulcers in the digestive tract. (1)
To get rid of an H. pylori infection, it is recommended to take antimicrobial herbs or medications to help eliminate the harmful bacteria. In addition, certain foods with antimicrobial properties may also help eliminate H. pylori. In this article, we'll discuss what foods to eat when being treated for H. pylori, as well as foods to avoid for H pylori infections that could make treatment more difficult.
If you suspect you may have an H. pylori infection, you should consult your doctor to get a proper diagnosis.
How Do You Get an H. Pylori Infection?
H. Pylori is a type of bacteria that inhabits the digestive tract. It has adapted itself to live in the stomach's acidic environment where many other bacteria cannot survive. (1)
In order to survive, H. Pylori bacteria can reduce the acidity of the environment around it. This can change the acidity of the stomach and can lead to various stomach issues. H. pylori can also penetrate through the stomach lining, which is then protected by mucus and unable to be reached by the body's immune cells. (1)
While H. pylori infections typically don't cause symptoms, they can lead to diseases in some people, including peptic ulcers and gastritis.
H. pylori bacteria are usually passed from one person to another through direct contact with saliva, vomit, or stool. H. pylori may also be spread through contaminated food or water. However, experts still do not understand how H. pylori infections cause ulcers in some people and not others, or why H. pylori infections spread.
To learn more about H. pylori and H. pylori symptoms, read our article "H. Pylori Symptoms, Signs and Natural Treatment."
How Do You Get Rid of H. Pylori?
H. pylori doesn't always cause symptoms. In infections with no symptoms, you may not need to take any course of action to treat the infection. In cases with symptoms, H. pylori infections are usually treated with antibiotic medications. Alternatively, or in addition to standard antibiotic drugs, people often choose to supplement with herbal antimicrobial supplements and focus on eating foods with antimicrobial properties.
How Does Diet Affect H. Pylori?
H. pylori is an infection of the digestive tract, and a few variables may impact whether someone gets an H. pylori infection or whether or not that infection causes symptoms. The two most significant factors are stomach acid and microbial balance.
Stomach acid, or gastric acid, is a highly acidic liquid naturally produced by the body to help you digest and absorb nutrients from your food. This acid also kills harmful bacteria and pathogens in food that would otherwise threaten your health. (2) Certain factors can impact the strength of your stomach acid and its effectiveness at carrying out its functions.
Certain nutrients in the diet, like B vitamins, zinc, and iron, are essential for maintaining stomach acid levels. (3) A poor diet can result in low stomach acid. Nutrient loss from health issues, stress, alcohol, or smoking, can also weaken stomach acid.
When stomach acid is weak, it may interfere with your ability to properly break down and receive nutrients from your food, weakening your immunity. (2) Weak stomach acid may also be less effective at fighting off pathogens, making it more likely for H. pylori to find a home in your stomach.
The balance of bacteria in your gut microbiome also plays a significant role in gastrointestinal health. (4) Good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract help fight harmful bacteria and other pathogens.
Unfortunately, many people today suffer from poor gut health due to an imbalance of beneficial bacteria in the gut (dysbiosis). This is most commonly caused by dietary and lifestyle factors that are common in our society, such as:
- Processed foods
- Processed sugars
- Processed meats (bacon, ham, sausage, hot dogs, etc.)
- Refined grains (white bread, white flour, white rice, etc.)
All of these can affect your gut health and kill off the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Foods to Eat for H. Pylori
Your diet can play a significant role in getting rid of your H. pylori infection and restoring your gut health. The most important things to focus on are:
- Eating a nutrient-rich diet to optimize overall well-being and immunity
- Including antimicrobial foods and herbs in your diet to get rid of the infection
- Avoiding foods that negatively impact gut health or that feed bad bacteria
- Improving stomach acid health
- Improving microbial balance in the gut
Eating A Nutrient-Rich Diet
When it comes to optimizing your health, diet is undoubtedly one of the most critical factors. We all know this to some degree, yet not many people honor this fundamental factor for health. How regularly do you feed your body all the nutrients it needs on a daily basis? If you are like most people—even more health-conscious people—the answer is not very often.
It can be difficult to get all the nutrients we need each day, and it requires some basic nutrition education, personal responsibility, and discipline to be consistent. However, once you start consistently feeding your body the nutrients it needs, you will feel a significant difference in your health.
Not only is this important for your general health and well-being, but giving your body the nutrients it needs will support your immune health in fighting off an H. pylori infection. Furthermore, it will also help to support healthy stomach acid levels.
You can get most of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of whole foods such as:
- Whole grains
- Animal products (meats, fish, dairy, eggs)
Depending on your diet, you may also need to supplement with some nutrients to fill any nutritional gaps. B vitamins (particularly B12), amino acids, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium, tend to be the nutrients that most people do not get enough of in their diet.
Including Antimicrobial Foods and Herbs in Your Diet
Another helpful factor for eliminating an H. pylori infection is to include more antibiotic foods and herbs in your diet. This doesn't mean all your foods need these properties, but if you are trying to clear an infection, it can be helpful to include some antimicrobial foods in each meal.
There are many foods and herbs with antimicrobial properties, such as:
- Mustard greens
- Apple cider vinegar
In addition to these foods, certain foods have been studied to have antimicrobial effects on H. pylori. Therefore, these would be the best foods for H. pylori infections to include in your meals.
One study in 2007 found that olive oil has strong antibacterial abilities against eight H. pylori strains. Three of those strains are antibiotic-resistant. Olive oil also remains stable in gastric acid. (5)
Honey has also shown antibacterial abilities against H. pylori. Researchers suggest that using honey with standard treatments may shorten treatment time, with raw honey and manuka honey having the most antibacterial effects. (6)
Broccoli sprouts may also kill H. pylori. This is due to a compound in broccoli sprouts called sulforaphane. Research on mice and humans suggests that sulforaphane reduces gastric inflammation. It also may lower bacteria colonization and its effects. (7)
Including these foods in your diet may help to fight off an H. pylori infection.
Some herbal extracts may also help fight off harmful bacteria. Our G.I. Pathogen Detox, for example, is a powerful organic antimicrobial supplement that may help to fight off a wide range of pathogenic bacteria.
Avoiding Foods That Negatively Impact Gut Health
In addition to eating foods that fight off harmful bacteria, it is crucial to cut out foods that could be feeding bacteria or negatively impacting your gut health. Some of the most significant foods and substances to avoid include:
- Processed sugar
- Oxidized oils (canola, palm, vegetable, etc.)
- Processed meats
- Refined grains
Improving Stomach Acid Health
One of the best things you can do to support the treatment of H. pylori is to ensure that you have healthy stomach acid. This can be done by:
- Eating a nutrient-rich diet
- Cultivating healthy eating habits (such as not overeating and allowing for a few hours to pass between each meal)
- Supplementing with a Hydrochloric acid (HCl) supplement.
Of course, stomach acid that is too high is also not ideal, as this can lead to heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion. However, if you are suffering from an H. pylori infection, it is much more likely that your stomach acid levels are low, and therefore, may benefit from raising stomach acid levels.
Improving Microbial Balance in the Gut
Lastly, it can be very beneficial to improve the health of your gut microbiome. This can be done by including the above-mentioned tips, as well as by:
- Eating fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir and kombucha
- Supplementing with a high-quality Multi-Strain Probiotic
- Eating more prebiotic foods like garlic, onions, artichokes, leeks, etc.
- Supplementing with a high-quality prebiotic like arabinogalactan
H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can infect the stomach and upper part of the small intestine. While not everyone with an H. pylori infection shows symptoms, an infection can cause stomach discomfort, gut inflammation, and peptic ulcers.
To get rid of an H. pylori infection, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. In addition to antibiotics, or as an alternative, some people use antimicrobial herbs and other natural foods for H pylori infection.
The top foods to eat for H pylori include:
- Broccoli sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
- Raw honey (or manuka honey)
- Olive oil
These foods have some studies showing their benefits for killing H. pylori bacteria—even some strains resistant to antibiotics. In addition to these foods for H. pylori, eating other antimicrobial foods may be helpful.
Antimicrobial herbs like those in our G.I. Pathogen Detox formula may also support the elimination of pathogenic bacteria like H. pylori.
While it is important to eat foods and herbs that help fight off the infection, it is also important to focus on supporting gut health and nutrition overall by eating a nutrient-rich diet, avoiding junk foods and foods that may feed the bad bacteria in the gut, supporting regular stomach acid levels, and including probiotic-rich foods and supplements in the diet.
While these foods and herbs may help to treat H. pylori naturally, it is always recommended to consult with your doctor if you are concerned about an infection or are seeking treatment.